Louise Fletcher won a best actress Oscar for playing the villainous Nurse Ratched in the 1975 film version of Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The daughter of an Episcopalian missionary, Fletcher went to the University of North Carolina until 1957, when she headed to Los Angeles to take acting classes and break into show business. Taller than most actresses, Fletcher got mostly parts in TV westerns, where she didn't dwarf the lead actors. Married to producer Jerry Bick, she retired from acting in 1962 to care for their two sons. Bick produced Robert Altman's 1974 film Thieves Like Us, and Fletcher was persuaded to play a small role on screen. Director Milos Foreman noticed her and picked her to play opposite Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The film won Best Picture in 1976, as well as Oscars for Fletcher, Nicholson and Forman. She's worked steadily since then in films and television, but will always be remembered as that mean nurse in the mental ward. Her other feature films include Brainstorm (1983, starring Christopher Walken), Invaders From Mars (1986), Flowers in the Attic (1987), Virtuosity (1995, starring Denzel Washington) and 2 Days in the Valley (1996). Fletcher also played a recurring role as a villain in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in 1999.
Both of Louise Fletcher’s parents were deaf from an early age; when she accepted her Oscar, part of her speech was in sign language.
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