Oscar-winning actress Louise Fletcher has died at the age of 88, her family confirmed. Fletcher died on Friday at her home in Montdurausse, France, from natural causes, her son Andrew Bick told The Hollywoodreporter. Fletcher survived two bouts of breast cancer. She will be remembered as one of the most powerful performers of her time.
She won an Oscar at the 48th Academy Awards in Los Angeles in March 1976 for her role of Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, one of the most reviled characters in cinema history. Her performance in the film also won her a Golden Globe and BAFTA Award the same year.
Death of a Legend
Although the family didn't share Fletcher's cause of death, it is believed that she died of natural causes. According to her family agent David Shaul, who confirmed her death to Deadline, Fletcher died in her sleep at the home she had built from a 300-year-old farmhouse, surrounded by family.
Earlier today, she said to her family about her beloved home, "I can't believe I created something so meaningful to my well-being."
Although Fletcher is known for her powerful performances in innumerable films, she will be best remembered for her role in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), co-starring Jack Nicholson, which is considered by many to be among the greatest films ever made.
Fletcher had a successful acting career that lasted more than 60 years and included numerous appearances in cinema and on television. As the Bajoran spiritual leader Kai Winn Adami, she had a recurrent role on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
In addition, she appeared as a guest star on Picket Fences and Joan of Arcadia, which earned her Emmy nominations in 1996 and 2004, respectively.
Fletcher is the second of four children born to the Reverend Robert Capers Fletcher and his wife Estelle, who were both deaf and worked with the deaf and hard-of-hearing.
The native of Birmingham, Alabama, who was taught to talk by a hearing aunt, went on to express interest in acting as a child.
An Illustrious Career
She made her professional debut in 1958, landing four distinct television guest appearances in the shows Yancy Derringer, Flight, Playhouse 90, and Bat Masterson. Similar roles followed at a steady clip throughout the 1960s, with appearances on Sugarfoot, Perry Mason and The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp.
Fletcher made her film debut in 1963's A Gathering of Eagles, which also starred Rock Hudson, Rod Taylor, Mary Peach, and Barry Sullivan.
Her breakthrough performance came in in 1974's Thieves Like Us. Milo Forman was drawn to her Thieves Like Us performance, and as a result, she was offered the character of Nurse Ratched in One Who Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest.
The psychological comedy-drama won the Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Leading Actor, Best Leading Actress, and Best Screenplay out of nine nominations. It was a critical and commercial success.
Fletcher's use of sign language during her acceptance speech for Best Actress is still remembered as one of the most unforgettable moments in Academy Awards history.
She continued to work steadily in both film and television over the years. Her recurrent role as the Bajoran religious figure Kai Winn Adami in the popular series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is actually when most fans first became familiar with her (1993-1999).
Fletcher married Jerry Bick, a movie producer in 1959 but the couple divorced in 1977. According to Deadline, she is survived by her sons John and Andrew Bick, granddaughter Emilee Kaya Bick, sisters Roberta Ray and Edward Ray, as well as 10 nieces and nephews.
She most recently portrayed the meth-dealing mother of William H. Macy in the Shameless television series, and she also made an appearance in the 2013 Liev Schreiber movie A Perfect Man and the Netflix series Girlboss with Britt Robertson.