American actress Louise Fletcher, who brought the villainous character of Nurse Ratched to life in the 1975 classic One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, has passed away at the age of 88.
Having survived two bouts of breast cancer during her life, Fletcher died of natural causes at her home in France on Friday, September 23, her son told The Hollywood Reporter.
Fletcher’s acting career spanned six decades and began when she received her bachelor’s degree in drama from the University of North Carolina in 1957
She soon began appearing in television shows such as Lawman, Maverick, The Untouchables as well as two guest appearances on the American legal drama Perry Mason in 1960.
Her appearance in the 1974 American crime film, Thieves Like Us, caught the eye of director Miloš Forman who chose to cast her as Nurse Ratched, the main antagonist to Jack Nicholson’s McMurphy, in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
She received international recognition and critical praise for her role as the villainous Nurse Ratched and won an Academy Award for Best Actress, as well as a BAFTA Award and Golden Globe for her performance.
Fletcher, who is the daughter of deaf parents, famously delivered part of her Oscar acceptance speech and thanked her parents using sign language.
Following her impressive performance in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Fletcher appeared in such films as Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), The Cheap Detective (1978), The Lady in Red (1979), Firestarter (1984), Invaders From Mars (1986), Flowers in the Attic (1987), Two Moon Junction (1988), Best of the Best (1989), and Blue Steel (1990).
Although her subsequent roles never appeared to match the success of her portrayal of Nurse Ratched, Fletcher was nominated for an Emmy Award for her guest role on Picket Fences and Joan of Arcadia.
She had a recurring role as a religious leader in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine from 1993 to 1999 and most recently appeared in four episodes of Shameless as the Gallagher family’s criminal grandmother as well as a recurring role in Girlboss.
Following the news of her passing, fans and entertainment identities alike took to social media to pay tribute to the late actress.
American actress Marlee Matlin was among the first to honour Fletcher, stating that she was “sad to hear of the passing” of the “brilliant actress”.
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. pic.twitter.com/e9om1R4DtW
— Marlee Matlin (@MarleeMatlin) September 24, 2022
Robert Hewitt Wolfe who was a scriptwriter on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine spoke of what an “honour and pleasure” it was to write for the late actress.
It was an honor and a pleasure to write for Louise Fletcher, one of the absolute greats. A blazing talent and a compete class act. May she rest with the Prophets. https://t.co/qhF726GW9r
— Robert Hewitt Wolfe (@writergeekrhw) September 24, 2022
RIP Louise Fletcher, whose extraordinary iconic performance as Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest will forever be remembered, as will her amazing and deeply moving Oscar speech which she ended by speaking to her deaf parents in ASL. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/hLbxfk2aKl
— Reel and Roll Films – Jupe & Jobu Tupaki Freak (@reelandroll) September 24, 2022
The key to a really, really great villain is that you LOVE to hate them with every fiber of your being, to the point of physically reacting to them when they appear. Louise Fletcher played two of the best villains ever committed to the screen. She was absolutely phenomenal. RIP. pic.twitter.com/vWYFGzqZUu
— Rich Masters (@MastersRich) September 24, 2022
— Jonathan Frakes (@jonathansfrakes) September 24, 2022
Rest peacefully Louise Fletcher. pic.twitter.com/N6Y8VmCzCU
— ???????????????????????????? ????????️ (@DADiClementi) September 24, 2022
RIP Louise Fletcher
She effortlessly went toe to toe with Jack Nicholson in a complex & controversial role as Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.
It’s one of the best performances in 70s cinema.
No mean thing. pic.twitter.com/yf2XtQpXAX
— Tom Reagan’s Hat (@RufusTSuperfly) September 24, 2022
Fletcher is survived by her two sons, John and Andrew.