Louise Fletcher, a late-blooming star who earned an Academy Award for her compelling portrayal of the cold-blooded Nurse Ratched in ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,’ has passed away at age 88.
Her agent David Shaul told The Associated Press on Friday that Fletcher died quietly while dozing off at her home in Montdurausse, France. The reason wasn’t stated.
Fletcher was in her early 40s and relatively unknown when director Milos Forman chose her for the role opposite Jack Nicholson in the 1975 movie. Forman had admired her work in director Robert Altman’s ‘Thieves Like Us’ the year before.
She had no idea that notable actors like Anne Bancroft, Ellen Burstyn, and Angela Lansbury had turned down the role.
In a 2004 interview, she said, ‘I was the last person cast.’ I didn’t realise the part had been offered to other women until we were halfway through filming because they didn’t want to seem so awful on screen. After ‘It Happened One Night’ in 1934, ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ went on to become the first movie to win best picture, best director, best actor, best actress, and best screenplay.
While holding her Oscar during the 1976 ceremony, Fletcher exclaimed to the audience, ‘It seems like you all hate me.’
Her height also hindered Fletcher’s career. She was regularly rejected from tryouts because, at 5 feet 10 inches, her leading man was taller.
Fletcher relocated to Los Angeles as soon as she received her degree from North Carolina State University in order to begin her acting career.
On July 22, 1934, in Birmingham, Estelle Louise Fletcher, the second of four children, was born. Her father was a travelling Episcopal clergyman who lost his hearing at the age of four after being struck by lightning, and her mother was born deaf.
Deadline was the first to report on Fletcher’s passing.