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Louise Fletcher, Academy Award-winning actress from Alabama She died at her home in France on Friday, according to her agent. She was 88 years old.
Fletcher died while she slept in her Montdaoras home surrounded by her family, her agent David Shaul told The Associated Press. The cause of her death was not mentioned.
Birmingham native was a Hollywood Pioneer And she learned what it meant to be a feature film villain after her breakthrough performance as Nurse Ratched in 1975’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” for which she won an Academy Award.
In the film directed by Milos Forman, Fletcher starred with Jack Nicholson in a role turned down by notable stars including Anne Bancroft, Ellen Burstyn and Angela Lansbury.
Fletcher was little known at the time but was chosen for her outstanding performance in Robert Altman’s “Thieves Like Us” in 1974.
“I was the last person to be cast,” she said during a 2004 interview. “It wasn’t until we got halfway to shooting that I realized the part was offered to him other actresses Who wouldn’t want to appear horribly on screen.”
Her harsh and methodical performance propelled “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” to become the first film since 1934’s “It Happened One Night” to win Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay.
During her acceptance speech in 1976 oscars awards ceremony, Fletcher recalled how viewers “all hated me” for the role.
She also used sign language to speak in person with her deaf parents.
She said in a sign, “I want to thank you for teaching me to dream. You see my dream come true.”
Her comments were met with thunderous applause.
Fletcher, who was in her forties at the time, had co-starred in “Mama Dracula,” “Dead Kids,” “The Boy Who Can Fly,” “The Cheap Detective,” “Natural Enemies,” and “Cruel Intentions.” and “Exorcist II: The Heretic”. She also starred in several TV seriesincluding “Joan of Arcadia,” “Picket Fences,” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”
Despite her success and famous roles, Fletcher was late in Hollywood when she married producer Jerry Peck in the early 1960s and postponed her acting career to raise her two sons.
“I made the decision to stop working, but I didn’t consider that an option,” she said during a 2004 interview. “I felt compelled to stay at home.”
She and Beck separated in 1977 and he died in 2004.
She is survived by their two sons, John and Andrew Beck.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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