Louise Fletcher, the actress who won an Academy Award for playing the villainous Nurse Ratched in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” died Friday in France, according to her agent David Shaul. She was 88.
Shaul said Fletcher died of “natural causes,” without providing further details. She was surrounded by family at her home in Montdurausse.
Shaul, who said he worked with Fletcher over the past few decades, said she lived in a converted 300-year-old farmhouse there and also had a residence in Los Angeles.
“France was her favorite place on the planet; she built a home in a beautiful place that she loved,” he said. “She was a great woman – what a career.”
Fletcher’s Oscar came for her second movie after a long break from acting to raise her children.
“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” starred Jack Nicholson as a new patient at a mental institution, where Mildred Ratched – played by Fletcher – reigns as an authoritarian, controlling nurse.
In her Oscar speech, Fletcher sweetly thanked her “Cuckoo’s Nest” colleagues and then, using sign language, acknowledged her deaf parents watching at home.
“I want to say thank you for teaching me to have a dream. You are seeing my dream come true,” she told them.
The film swept the top five Oscars for 1975 – for Best Picture, director Milos Forman, adapted screenplay, actor Nicholson and actress Fletcher.
Her role became regarded as one of film history’s greatest villains, No. 5 on the list compiled by the American Film Institute, behind the likes of Hannibal Lecter and the Wicked Witch of the West.
In 2020, Fletcher’s role inspired a spinoff, the Ryan Murphy TV series “Ratched.”
Fletcher also had a continuing role in the “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” series and played Helen Rosemond in the 1999 film “Cruel Intentions,” among many other film and TV credits. Most recently, she appeared in the Netflix comedy series “Girl Boss” and on the series “Shameless.”
Fletcher is survived by her two sons, John and Andrew Bick; her sister, Roberta Ray; and a granddaughter. Fletcher was married to Jerry Bick in 1959 and the couple divorced in 1977.