Jack Nicholson Roger Ebert Ken Kesey Louise Fletcher France USA film actress Jack Nicholson Roger Ebert Ken Kesey Louise Fletcher France USA

Louise Fletcher, Oscar Winner for ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,’ Dies at 88

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Carmel Dagan Staff Writer Louise Fletcher, who won the best actress Oscar for her indelible performance as Nurse Ratched in Milos Forman’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” died Friday at her home in France, according to a rep.

She was 88. The classic film, based on Ken Kesey’s novel and exploring the repressive tendency of authority through the story of the patients and staff of a psych ward, won five Oscars in 1976, including best picture and best actor for Jack Nicholson. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” was the first film in more than four decades to sweep the major categories of best picture, director, actor, actress and screenplay.

It was nominated for an additional four Oscars and was also a substantial box office hit. In the American Film Institute TV special “AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Heroes & Villains,” Fletcher’s Nurse Ratched was named the fifth-greatest villain in film history — and second-greatest villainess, behind only the Wicked Witch of the West.

Ironically, the Ratched character had been softened in the script compared to Kesey’s original, and Fletcher gave a rather subtle performance, often conveying the character’s emotions simply through facial expressions, which is why she deserved her Oscar in the first place.

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