Louise Fletcher, Oscar Winner as Nurse Ratched, Dies at 88
Louise Fletcher, an Oscar winner for her iconic portrayal of heartless Nurse Ratched in the 1975 hit "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," died Friday of natural causes.
She was 88.
Her son, Andrew Bick, confirmed to THR that Fletcher had died at her Montdurausse, France, home.
Born July 22, 1934, in Birmingham, Alabama, Fletcher was a busy working actress from the late '50s into the '60s, including on classic shows like "Perry Mason" (1960).
But she took time off to be a mom, and when she returned, her comeback film "Thieves Like Us" (1974) for Robert Altman brought her to the attention of director Milos Forman, who tested her — repeatedly — for the role of Ratched, a part he had offered to many top stars, only to be turned down.
She sealed the deal and went on to portray the vicious sanitarium matron with aplomb. So hated was her character, audiences cheered when Jack Nicholson's character became violent toward her during a key scene — before she had him lobotomized.
Winning Oscar gold, Fletcher — a child of deaf parents — made history by incorporating ASL into her touching acceptance speech.
Fellow Oscar winner Marlee Matlin remembered her on Twitter, writing, "Sad to read of the passing of Louise Fletcher. Brilliant actress & Academy Award winner, I remember her as the daughter of Deaf parents (CODA) who was the FIRST to sign her acceptance speech at the Oscars. And she was so lovely as my mother on 'Picket Fences.' RIP dear Louise."
Though she never found a regular place in award-worthy fare after "Cuckoo," she appeared in such films as "Exorcist II: The Heretic" (1977), "The Cheap Detective" (1978), "Strange Invaders" (1983), "Firestarter" (1984), "Once Upon a Time in America" (1984), "Flowers in the Attic" (1987), "Mulholland Falls" (1996), and "Cruel Intentions" (1999).
On TV, she was on over a dozen episodes of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" (1993-1999) and recurred on "Shameless" (2011-2012).