Oscar-winning actress Louise Fletcher has died

He was 88 years old. In 1976, she had won the statuette for best actress for her performance as Nurse Ratched, which 45 years later inspired a Netflix series.

Louise Fletch, the actress who won an Oscar for her unforgettable role as Nurse Ratched in Milos Forman’s Trapped with No Way Out, died Friday at her home in Montdurausse, France, at the age of 88. It was one of her children, Andrew Bick, who reported her death.

A single performance like the one Louise Fletcher put together in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (known to us as “Trapped without exit”) more than four decades ago, it would have been enough to place her in the Olympus of actresses.

In fact, it was worth the Oscar for the best female performance of 1976 when there were also names like Isabelle Adjani, barely twenty years old for the “Intimate Diary of Adele H), Ann-Margret, Glenda Jackson and Carol Kane. But Fletcher, the unforgettable nurse Mildred Ratched from that film was much more and, in fact, prolonged her artistic career for several decades.

Louise Fletcher received the Oscar for Best Actress for her role in Dead End. Photo: AP

Fletcher was born on July 22, 1934 in Birmingham, Alabama, and that performance – a true duel with another colossus like Jack Nicholson – was memorable. The film directed by Milos Forman won five of the Oscars, the main ones: best film, director, actor, actress and screenplay. An achievement that he had only achieved in 1934 with “It happened one night” and that he would only achieve “The silence of the innocents” in 1991, the last one until now.

In his award acceptance speech, Fletcher used sign language, thanking his parents, deaf. “I was taught to have a dream, which has come true,” she said.

Louise Fletcher was 88 years old and lived in France. AP Photo

Louise Fletcher was 88 years old and lived in France. AP Photo

And Forman was awarded as “best director” among these exceptional candidates: Fellini for Amarcord, Altman for Nashville, Sidney Lumet for Dog Day Afternoon and Stanley Kubrick for Barry Lindon.

“Trapped with no way out” was based on a novel by Ken Kesey (1962) and was produced by Michael Douglas. This, in fact, was ambitious for the leading role but age did not help him then and he opted for a more experienced (and well-known) Nicholson.

Louise Fletcher was the second of four children and her father was an Episcopal bishop, who founded more than 40 parishes in the United States. Louise studied at the University of North Carolina and only became an actress when she settled in Los Angeles in the late 1950s, participating in TV series such as Perry Mason and Maverick.

She was also cast in several westerns. “No TV producer thought that a tall woman like me, 1.78, could be attractive… But I was able to get roles in westerns because the actors were taller,” she said.

She married producer Jerry Bick, but after an appearance in the movie “Eagle’s Nest”, Louise he retired for a decade to take care of his children. She was to make a comeback with “Thieves Like Us,” directed by Robert Altman and produced by Bick in 1974 (and three years later, she divorced him). Altman was also going to summon her for one of her classics, “Nashville” (1975) but a fight with Bick left Louise out, replaced by Lily Tomlin.

Milos Forman wrote in his memoirs of the moment he cast her in Trapped…: “I asked her to read the script with me and suddenly, under the velvety exterior, I discovered a toughness and willpower that seemed tailor-made for the role”.

Jack Nicholson in his unforgettable role as Randle McMurphy, in Dead End.

Jack Nicholson in his unforgettable role as Randle McMurphy, in Dead End.

The film was a success in every sense, despite the tragic derivation of its history, set in a psychiatric hospital. In addition to the consecration in the Oscar was awarded at the Golden Globe and the Bafta, among otheryes It was filmed at the Oregon State Hospital in Salem, and is a remarkable duel between Nicholson as Randle McMurphy – a misdemeanor, who is referred to the Psychiatric Hospital – and the nurse, with her soft voice and manners, who hides the personality and decision of a rock, directing his area with an iron hand.

There are moments that remain in everyone’s memory, such as McMurphy’s arrival at the hospital to shake up the interns’ routine, or when he seizes a bus and takes his colleagues on a “fun adventure.” McMurphy becomes an emblem of the fight “for sex, drink, freedom and permanent rebellion.”

The Serie "Ratcheted"with Sarah Paulson

The series “Ratched”, with Sarah Paulson

And although Fletcher was no longer a candidate, she alternated in some quality products such as “Natural Enemies” and other more commercial ones. She was in “The Exorcist II”, “Eyes of Fire”, “Invaders from Mars”, among others.

During the 1990s and early 2000s, Fletcher rose to prominence again, but for his television roles on “Star Trek.” Her last role was in 2017 during the Netflix series “Girboss”. And two years ago Netflix made a series (“Ratched”) based on the story of the nurse turned villain. Cold, severe, implacable, that image of Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched marked her career.

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Oscar-winning actress Louise Fletcher has died