Louise Fletcher, Oscar Winning Nurse Ratched Actress, Dies at 88

Louise Fletcher, a beloved actress known for her Oscar-winning performance as Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, has passed away at the age of 88. The news was confirmed in a statement from her agent, David Shaul, who revealed that Fletcher died in her sleep on Friday, September 23rd, 2022. She was surrounded by family at her home, which she had rebuilt from a 300-year-old farmhouse, in Montdurausse, France. A cause of death has not been specified at this time. 

Fletcher was born in Birmingham, Alabama on July 22, 1934 to deaf parents Robert and Estelle. After deciding to become an actress at the age of 11, she studied theater at the University of North Carolina, and she began to act onsceen in the late 1950s in programs like Lawman, Maverick Perry Mason, and Untouchables. 

In the 1960s, she took an eleven-year break from acting to raise her two sons, who she had had with her first husband, producer Jerry Bick. Fletcher's marriage to Bick is ultimately what got her back into acting, as he asked her to take on a role in Robert Altman's Thieves Like Us. Thieves Like Us later caught the attention of director Milos Formann, who cast her as Nurse Ratched, the standout villain of the 1975 adaptation of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Fletcher would go on to win an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance, as well as a BAFTA Award and a Golden Globe. Her Oscars acceptance speech made history when she utilized sign language to thank her parents.

"Just enjoy it; it'll make you wonderfully happy for a night," Fletcher said of her Oscar win in a 1995 interview with The New York Times. "But don't expect that it'll do anything for your career... I got the Oscar when I was 41. If I was 23, it would have been hard to deal with. Hell, at my age it was hard to deal with. It was like being thrown an explosive."

Following One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Fletcher had a unique career revival, with memorable appearances in Cruel Intentions, Blue Steel, Exorcist II: The Heretic, and The Lady in Red. She then recurred as Kai Winn Adami on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. She went on to earn two Emmy nominations for her work on Picket Fences and Joan of Arcadia. Prior to her passing, she appeared in Girlboss, Shameless and Grizzly II: Revenge.

Our thoughts are with Fletcher's family, friends, and fans at this time.