When the actress included American Sign Language into her 1976 Academy Awards acceptance speech, it caused a stir.
The renowned actress Louise Fletcher has passed away. She was most known for playing the vicious and terrifying Nurse Ratched in the 1975 movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. She was 88.
According to her agent David Shaul, the actress “died quietly in her sleep at her home in Montdurasse, France, surrounded by relatives.” No specific cause of death was given.
Fletcher started her acting career in the 1950s by making appearances on television programs including Lawman, Bat Masterson, Maverick, and The Untouchables. She was born in Birmingham, Alabama, to deaf parents.
Fletcher returned to the big screen in 1974 as Mattie in Robert Altman’s crime drama Thieves Like Us after taking a decade off in the early 1960s to raise her two children. This role caught the eye of director Milos Forman, who later cast her as the evil nurse in his adaptation of Ken Kesey’s popular 1962 book.
With an iron grip, Fletcher, playing the role of Nurse Ratched, oversaw the fictional Salem State Hospital, controlling the patients and constantly sparring with Jack Nicholson’s character Randle McMurphy, the cunning convict who faked insanity to escape jail. At the 1976 Academy Awards, she won an Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her depiction of the nasty health counselor. During her victory speech, she made headlines by expressing her gratitude to her parents in American Sign Language.
In her signature, she said, “For my mum and father, I want to say thank you for educating me to have a dream. “You’re seeing the realization of my dream,” For the part, Fletcher also received a Golden Globe and an Emmy award.
The memory of Nurse Ratched lives on, and more than 45 years later, Sarah Paulson’s portrayal of the character in the 2020 Netflix original series Ratched, which had one season, was inspired by it.
After becoming well-known, Fletcher continued to appear in movies and television shows for the next 40 years. She played Aunt Helen in the 1999 film Cruel Intentions and the grandmother in the 1987 horror movie Flowers in the Attic. She also had a long-running role as Kai Winn on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in the 1990s. In 2017, she had her final role in the Girlboss comedy series on Netflix.
Marlee Matlin, who collaborated with Fletcher on the 1996 television series Picket Fences, wrote a eulogy for the actress after hearing of her passing. She tweeted, “Sad to read of Louise Fletcher’s passing.” “Oscar-winning actress who is brilliant. She was the first CODA (daughter of Deaf parents) to sign her Oscar victory speech, which stands out in my memory. And in “Picket Fences,” she was really stunning as my mother. Godspeed, Louise.”