Saturday, September 24, 2022

Godspeed Louise Fletcher

Actress Louise Fletcher, best known for playing the cruel Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) and who also played Bajoran religious leader Kai Winn Adami on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, died yesterday, September 23 2022, at the age of 88.

Louise Fletcher was born on July 22 1934 in Birmingham, Alabama. Both of her parents were deaf and she would learn sign language while young. As a little girl Louise Fletcher was very shy and her parents sent her to live with an aunt in Texas, who helped teach her how to speak. She attended Ramsay High School in Birmingham, and then the University of North Carolina where she received a bachelor's degree in drama. She and some friends made a trip to Los Angeles and Louise Fletcher decided to stay there. She worked as a reception while taking acting classes at night under legendary character actor and acting teacher Jeff Corey.

Louise Fletcher made her debut in an episode of the single season, syndicated anthology series Flight. In the late Fifties she guest starred on the shows Playhouse 90, Bat Masterson, Yancy Derringer, Lawman, Maverick, 77 Sunset Strip, The Untouchables, One Step Beyond, Markham, Wagon Train, The Millionaire, Sugarfoot, Tate, and Perry Mason.

In the Sixties Louise Fletcher guest starred on The Best of the Post and The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp. She made her film debut in A Gathering of Eagles in 1963. It was following the birth of her two sons that she took a break from acting in order to raise them. She returned to acting after nearly ten years. She guest starred on the TV series Medical Center in 1973 and in the Seventies went onto appear in the television movies Can Ellen Be Saved? and Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery. She received acclaim for her role as Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1976), for which she also won the Academy Award for Best Actress. Louise Fletcher also appeared in the movies Thieves Like Us (1974), Russian Roulette (1975), Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), The Cheap Detective (1978), The Lady in Red (1979), The Magician of Lublin (1979), Natural Enemies (1979), The Lucky Star (1980), and Mama Dracula (1980).

In the Eighties Miss Fletcher appeared in the movies Strange Behavior (1981), Talk to Me (1982), Strange Invaders (1983), Brainstorm (1983), Grizzly II: The Predator (1983), Firestarter (1984), Once Upon a Time in America (1984), Invaders from Mars (1986), The Boy Who Could Fly (1986), Nobody's Fool (1986), Flowers in the Attic (1987), Two Moon Junction (1988), Best of the Best (1989), Shadowzone (1990), and Blue Steel (1990). She appeared in the TV movies Islands, A Summer to Remember, Last Waltz on the Tightrope, Second Serve, J. Edgar Hoover, The Karen Carpenter Story, Final Notice, and Nightmare on the 13th Floor. She guest starred on the shows Worlds Beyond, The Twilight Zone, and In the Heat of the Night.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. She also had regular roles on the TV shows The Boys of Twilight and VR.5. She guest starred on two episodes of Picket Fences as the mother of Laurie Bey (Marlee Martin). She also guest starred on the shows Tales from the Crypt, The Ray Bradbury Theatre, Civil Wars, Profiler, The Practice, Fantasy Island, Brimstone, and Any Day Now. She appeared in the mini-series In a Child's Name and The Fire Next Time. She appeared in the movies The Player (1992), Blind Vision (1992), On Deadly Ground (1994), Giorgino (1994), Tryst (1994), Tollbooth (1994), Virtuosity (1995), Return to Two Moon Junction (1995), Mulholland Falls (1996), Edge & Pen (1996), Frankenstein and Me (1996), 2 Days in the Valley (1996), High School High (1996), Gone Fishin' (1997), The Girl Gets Moe (1997), Hollywood Salome (1998), Love Kills (1998), Cruel Intentions (1999), A Map to the World (1999), The Contact (1999), Big Eden (2000), Very Mean Men (2000), and More Dogs Than Bones (2000).

In the Naughts Louise Fletcher appeared in the movies After Image (2001), Touched by a Killer (2001), Manna from Heaven (2002), Silver Man (2003), Finding Home (2003), Dancing in Twilight (2004), Clipping Adam (2004), Aurora Borealis (2005), Fat Rose and Squeaky (2006), The Last Sin Eater (2007), and The Genesis Code (2010). She guest starred on the shows It's All Relative, Joan of Arcadia, Wonderfalls, 7th Heaven, ER, Heroes, and Private Practice.

In the Teens she had a recurring role on the TV show Shameless. She guest starred on the show Girlboss. She appeared in the TV movies Of Two Minds and Bad Girls. She appeared in the movies Cassadaga (2011) and A Perfect Man (2013).

Louise Fletcher was an incredible actress. Her performance as Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is among the greatest in movie history. Indeed, Nurse Ratched ranked no. 5 in AFI's 2003 list "100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains." As well known as Louise Fletcher was as Nurse Ratched, she played many other roles in her career. As Kai Winn Adami she went from an overly zealous religious leader in the beginning to a major villain on the show towards its end. Her talent was on display very early in her career. In the Bat Masterson episode "Cheyenne Club" she played a woman whose father calls upon Bat to make sure her fiancé doesn't cheat at cards. In the Eighties version of The Twilight Zone, in the episode "The Hunters," she played an archaeologist investigating a cave in which something seems to be moving around. In Firestarter she played the wife of a farmer who kindly takes Andy and his pyrokinetic daughter Charlie in when they are running from The Shop (officially called  the Department of Scientific Intelligence ). Throughout her career Louise Fletcher played a wide variety of roles and played all of them convincingly.

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