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Louise Fletcher

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Louise Fletcher
Fletcher at the 48th Academy Awards (1976)
Estelle Louise Fletcher

(1934-07-22)July 22, 1934
DiedSeptember 23, 2022(2022-09-23) (aged 88)
Years active1955–2017
Known forOne Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Jerry Bick
(m. 1960; div. 1977)

Estelle Louise Fletcher (July 22, 1934 – September 23, 2022) was an American actress. She is best known for her portrayal of the antagonist Nurse Ratched in the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), which earned her numerous accolades, including the Academy Award, BAFTA Award, and Golden Globe Award for Best Actress.

Fletcher had a recurring role as the Bajoran religious leader Kai Winn Adami in the television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993–99). She was nominated for two Emmy Awards for her roles in the television series Picket Fences (1996) and Joan of Arcadia (2004). Her final role was as Rosie in the Netflix series Girlboss (2017).

Early life[edit]

Estelle Louise Fletcher was born on July 22, 1934, in Birmingham, Alabama,[1] the second of four children of Estelle (née Caldwell)[2] and the Reverend Robert Capers Fletcher, an Episcopal missionary from Arab, Alabama. Her parents were deaf and worked with the deaf/hard-of-hearing,[3][4] but Fletcher and her siblings, Roberta, John,[5] and Georgianna,[6] were all hearing normally,[7] so the children were sent in turns to live with Estelle's hearing sister in Texas for three months at a time to ensure they learned spoken English.[3] Fletcher's father founded more than 40 churches for the deaf in Alabama.[6] She received a bachelor's degree in drama from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1957.[8]


James Garner and Fletcher in Maverick (1959)

Fletcher began appearing in several television series including Lawman (1958) and Maverick (1959). (The Maverick episode "The Saga of Waco Williams" with James Garner was the series's highest-rated episode.)[9] Also in 1959, she appeared in an episode of the original Untouchables TV series starring Robert Stack, "Ma Barker and Her Boys", as Elouise.[10] Fletcher recalled having greater success being cast in Westerns due to her height:

I was 5 feet 10 inches [1.78 m] tall, and no television producer thought a tall woman could be sexually attractive to anybody. I was able to get jobs on westerns because the actors were even taller than I was.

— Louise Fletcher (November 1975)[3]

In 1960, Fletcher made two guest appearances on Perry Mason, as defendant Gladys Doyle in "The Case of the Mythical Monkeys", and as Susan Connolly in "The Case of the Larcenous Lady". In the summer of 1960, she was cast as Roberta McConnell in the episode "The Bounty Hunter" of Tate, starring David McLean.[11]

[When conceiving of a way to play Nurse Ratched] [s]he thought back to her childhood in Alabama, and the "paternalistic way that people treat other people there." Moving to California had opened her eyes to how warped things had been back home. "White people actually felt that the life they were creating was good for black people," she says—a dynamic she recognized in Nurse Ratched and her charges. "They're in this ward, she's looking out for them, and they have to act like they're happy to get this medication or listen to this music. And make her feel good about the way she is.

Michael Schulman profile of Louise Fletcher, Vanity Fair, July 10, 2018

In 1974, Fletcher returned to film in the crime drama Thieves Like Us, co-produced by her husband Jerry Bick and Robert Altman, who also directed. When the two had a falling out on Altman's next project (Nashville (1975)), Altman decided to cast Lily Tomlin for the role of Linnea Reese, initially created for and by Fletcher. Meanwhile, director Miloš Forman saw Fletcher in Thieves and cast her as McMurphy's nemesis Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975).[3] She based her performance of the character on the paternalistic way she saw white people treat black people in her native Alabama.[12] Fletcher gained international recognition and fame for the role, winning the Academy Award for Best Actress, as well as a BAFTA Award and Golden Globe. She was only the third actress ever to win an Academy Award, BAFTA Award, and Golden Globe Award for a single performance, after Audrey Hepburn and Liza Minnelli. When Fletcher accepted her Oscar, she used sign language to thank her parents.[13][2]

After Cuckoo's Nest, Fletcher had mixed success in film. She made several financially and critically successful films, while others were box-office failures. Fletcher's film roles were in such features as Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), The Cheap Detective (1978), The Lady in Red (1979), The Magician of Lublin (1979), Brainstorm (1983), Firestarter (1984), Invaders From Mars (1986), Flowers in the Attic (1987), Two Moon Junction (1988), Best of the Best (1989), Blue Steel (1990), Virtuosity (1995), High School High (1996), and Cruel Intentions (1999), as the aunt of Ryan Phillippe's Sebastian. Additionally, she played the character Ruth Shorter, a supporting role, in Aurora Borealis (2005), alongside Joshua Jackson and Donald Sutherland, and appeared in the Fox Faith film The Last Sin Eater (2007).[14]

Fletcher co-starred in TV movies such as The Karen Carpenter Story (1989) (as Karen and Richard Carpenter's mother, Agnes), Nightmare on the 13th Floor (1990), The Haunting of Seacliff Inn (1994), and The Stepford Husbands (1996). From 1993 to 1999, she held a recurring role in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as the scheming Bajoran religious leader Kai Winn Adami.[15] She also earned Emmy Award nominations for her guest roles on Picket Fences (1996), and later on Joan of Arcadia (2004).[16] In 2009, Fletcher appeared in Heroes as the physician mother of character Emma Coolidge. In 2011 and 2012, she appeared on four episodes of Shameless as Grammy Gallagher, Frank Gallagher's foul-mouthed and hard-living mother, who is serving a prison sentence for manslaughter related to a meth lab explosion. She portrayed the recurring role of Rosie on the series Girlboss (2017).[17]

Personal life[edit]

Fletcher in 2014

Fletcher married producer Jerry Bick, divorcing in 1977.[13] The couple had two sons, John Dashiell Bick and Andrew Wilson Bick.[18] Fletcher took an 11-year break from acting to raise them.[13]

Fletcher received an honorary degree from Gallaudet University in 1982.[19]

Fletcher died at her home in Montdurausse, France, on September 23, 2022, at the age of 88.[17]



Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1963 A Gathering of Eagles Mrs. Kemler [20]
1974 Thieves Like Us Mattie [14]
1975 Russian Roulette Midge [14]
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Nurse Ratched [14]
1977 Exorcist II: The Heretic Dr. Gene Tuskin [14]
1978 The Cheap Detective Marlene DuChard [14]
1979 The Lady in Red Anna Sage [14]
The Magician of Lublin Emilia [21]
Natural Enemies Miriam Steward [14]
1980 The Lucky Star Loes Bakker [14]
Mama Dracula Mama Dracula [14]
1981 Strange Behavior Barbara Moorehead [21]
Be Pretty and Shut Up Herself Documentary [14]
1982 Talk to Me Richard's Mother [14]
1983 Strange Invaders Mrs. Benjamin [14]
Brainstorm Lilian Reynolds [14]
1984 Firestarter Norma Manders [14]
Once Upon a Time in America Cemetery Directress Extended cut only [14]
Overnight Sensation Evie Peregrine aka "E.K. Hamilton" Short [14]
1986 Invaders from Mars Mrs. McKeltch [14]
The Boy Who Could Fly Dr. Grenader [14]
Nobody's Fool Pearl [14]
1987 Flowers in the Attic Grandmother [14]
1988 Two Moon Junction Belle Delongpre [14]
1989 Best of the Best Mrs. Grady [14]
1990 Shadowzone Dr. Erhardt [14]
Blue Steel Shirley Turner [14]
1992 The Player Louise Fletcher [14]
Blind Vision Miss Taylor [14]
Giorgino Innkeeper [14]
Tryst Maggie [14]
Tollbooth Lillian [14]
1995 Return to Two Moon Junction Belle Delongpre [14]
Virtuosity Elizabeth Deane [14]
1996 Mulholland Falls Esther Uncredited [20]
Edie & Pen Judge [21]
Frankenstein and Me Mrs. Perdue [14]
2 Days in the Valley Evelyn [14]
High School High Principal Evelyn Doyle [14]
1997 Gone Fishin' Restaurant Owner Uncredited [22][23]
The Girl Gets Moe Gloria [14]
1998 Johnny 316 Sally's Mother [21]
Love Kills Alena Heiss [14]
1999 Cruel Intentions Helen Rosemond [14]
A Map of the World Nellie Goodwin [14]
The Contract Grandma Collins [14]
2000 Big Eden Grace Cornwell [14]
Very Mean Men Katherine Mulroney [14]
More Dogs Than Bones Iva Doll [14]
2001 After Image Aunt Cora [14]
Touched by a Killer Judge Erica Robertson [14]
2002 Manna from Heaven Mother Superior [14]
2003 Silver Man Val [21]
Finding Home Esther [14]
2004 Clipping Adam Grammy [14]
2005 Aurora Borealis Ruth Shorter [14]
Dancing in Twilight Evelyn [14]
2006 Fat Rose and Squeaky Bonnie [21]
2007 The Last Sin Eater Miz Elda [14]
A Dennis the Menace Christmas Mrs. Martha Wilson [21]
2010 The Genesis Code Ellen Taylor [20]
2011 Cassadaga Claire [20]
2013 A Perfect Man Abbie filmed in 2000 [20]
2020 Grizzly II: Revenge Eileene Draygon filmed in 1983 [20]


Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1958 Flight unknown role "Red China Rescue" [24]
Playhouse 90 Pete's Girl 2 episodes [25]
Bat Masterson Sarah Lou Conant "Cheyenne Club" [14]
Yancy Derringer Miss Nellie / Alithea "Old Dixie" [20]
1959 Lawman Betty Horgan "The Encounter" [14]
Maverick Kathy Bent "The Saga of Waco Williams" [20]
77 Sunset Strip Julia Murphy "A Bargain in Tombs" [17]
The Untouchables Eloise "Ma Barker and Her Boys" [10][20]
Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond Jeannie "The Open Window" (broadcast Nov. 3rd., US) [20]
Markham Ellen Amery "Strange Visitor" [26]
1959–60 Wagon Train Elizabeth / Martha English 2 episodes [20]
1960 The Millionaire Holly "Millionaire Vance Ludlow" [27]
Sugarfoot Julie Frazer "Funeral at Forty Mile" [17]
Tate Mrs. McConnell "The Bounty Hunter" [28]
Perry Mason Susan Connolly / Gladys Doyle 2 episodes [20][17]
1961 The Best of the Post unknown role "Groper in the Dark" [29]
The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp Aithra McLowery "The Law Must Be Fair" [17]
1973 Medical Center unknown role "Child of Violence" [30]
1974 Can Ellen Be Saved? Bea Lindsey TV movie [14]
1978 Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery Sally Kimball TV movie [14]
1984 Islands Maureen Davis TV movie [14]
1985 A Summer to Remember Dr. Dolly McKeever TV movie [21]
1986 Last Waltz on a Tightrope Cynthia Diamond TV movie [21][31]
Second Serve Dr. Sadie M. Bishop TV movie [21]
1987 J. Edgar Hoover Annie M. Hoover TV movie [21]
1988 Worlds Beyond Karen Earl "Home" [29]
The Twilight Zone Dr. Cline "The Hunters" [20]
1989 The Karen Carpenter Story Agnes Carpenter TV movie [14]
Final Notice Mrs. Lord TV movie [21]
1990 In the Heat of the Night Catherine Tyler "December Days" [20]
Nightmare on the 13th Floor Letti Gordon TV movie [14]
1991 The Hitchhiker Mother Birch "Offspring" [32]
Tales from the Crypt Agent "Top Billing" [20]
In a Child's Name Jean Taylor Miniseries (2 episodes) [21]
1992 The Boys of Twilight Genelva McPherson / Genelva 4 episodes [14][25]
The Ray Bradbury Theater Miss Weldon "The Dead Man" [32]
Civil Wars Judge Francis Wyler "The Triumph of DeVille" [33]
1993 The Fire Next Time Sarge Miniseries [14]
1993–99 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Kai Winn / Vedek Winn recurring role (14 episodes) [20]
1994 The Haunting of Seacliff Inn Dorothy O'Hara TV movie [14]
Someone Else's Child Faye Maddox TV movie [14]
1995 Dream On Joanna "Try Not to Remember" [34]
1995–97 VR.5 Mrs. Nora Bloom recurring role (6 episodes) [14]
1996 Picket Fences Christine Bey 2 episodes [20]
The Stepford Husbands Miriam Benton TV movie [14]
1997 Sins of the Mind D. Anna Bingham TV movie [20]
Married to a Stranger Nana, Megan's Mother TV movie [14]
Heartless Aunt Lydia McGuffy TV movie [20]
Breast Men Mrs. Saunders TV movie [14]
1998 Profiler Miriam Newquay, Jack's Mother 2 episodes [20]
The Practice Judge N. Swanson "Rhyme and Reason" [20]
Fantasy Island Doris Leeman "Dying to Dance" [32]
Brimstone Evelyn McNabb "Encore" [32]
1999 The Devil's Arithmetic Aunt Eva TV movie [14]
Time Served Warden Mildred Reinecke TV movie [14]
2003 A Time to Remember Billy Calhoun TV movie [14]
2004 It's All Relative ER Nurse "Oscar Interrupts" [20]
Joan of Arcadia Eva Garrison "Do the Math" [20]
Wonderfalls Vivian Caldwell "Barrel Bear" [20]
2005 7th Heaven Mrs. Wagner "Honor Thy Mother" [20]
ER Roberta "Birdie" Chadwin 2 episodes [20]
2006 A Dad for Christmas Glennie TV movie [20]
2009 Heroes Dr. Coolidge 2 episodes [20]
2010–11 Private Practice Frances Wilder 2 episodes [20]
2011–12 Shameless Peg Gallagher recurring role (4 episodes) [20]
2012 Of Two Minds Aunt Will TV movie [20]
2017 Girlboss Rosie 2 episodes [17]


Association Year Category Nominated Work Results Ref.
AARP Movies for Grownups Awards 2007 Best Grownup Love Story (shared with Donald Sutherland) Aurora Borealis Nominated [35]
Academy Awards 1975 Best Actress One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Won [36]
BAFTA Awards 1977 Best Actress in a Leading Role Won [37]
CinEuphoria Awards 2020 Career — Honorary Award Won [38]
Genie Awards 1981 Best Performance by a Foreign Actress The Lucky Star Nominated [39]
Gold Derby Awards 2012 Drama Guest Actress Shameless Nominated [40]
Golden Globes 1976 Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture — Drama One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Won [41]
Golden Raspberry Awards 1987 Worst Supporting Actress Invaders from Mars Nominated [21]
Online Film & Television Association 1997 Best Guest Actress in a Syndicated Series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Won [42]
Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series Won
1998 Best Guest Actress in a Syndicated Series Won [43]
1999 Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series Nominated [44]
Best Guest Actress in a Syndicated Series Won
2012 Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series Shameless Won [45]
Palm Beach International Film Festival 2005 Legend in Film Award Won [46]
Primetime Emmy Awards 1996 Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series (for episode "Bye Bye, Bey Bey") Picket Fences Nominated [47]
2004 Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series (for episode "Do the Math") Joan of Arcadia Nominated
Satellite Awards
2016 Mary Pickford Award Won [48]
Saturn Awards 1984 Best Actress Brainstorm Won [49]
1988 Best Supporting Actress Flowers in the Attic Nominated [50]


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  4. ^ "Louise Fletcher". Yahoo Movies. Archived from the original on May 22, 2011.
  5. ^ John "Caldwell" Fletcher obituary, Legacy.Com
  6. ^ a b "Rev. John Fletcher, 87; Ministered to the Deaf". The New York Times. March 16, 1988. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  7. ^ Robertson, Nan (April 1976). "The Fletchers: Family That Heard The Silent Thanks". The New York Times. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
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  10. ^ a b "Ma Barker and Her Boys (1959)". BFI. Archived from the original on December 3, 2018. Retrieved September 29, 2022.
  11. ^ "The Bounty Hunter". Kanopy. Retrieved September 25, 2022.
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  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Louise Fletcher – Filmography". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved September 25, 2022.
  22. ^ "Gone Fishin' (1997) – Miscellaneous Notes". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved September 28, 2022.
  23. ^ King, Dennis (June 4, 1997). "Movie Review: 'Gone Fishin'". Tulsa World. Retrieved September 28, 2022.
  24. ^ Irvin, Richard (May 12, 2014). George Burns Television Productions: The Series and Pilots, 1950–1981. McFarland. p. 132. ISBN 9780786494866.
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  26. ^ "Strange Visitor (1959)". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on December 3, 2018. Retrieved September 28, 2022.
  27. ^ TV Guide. Triangle Publications. 1962. p. 14.
  28. ^ Hicks, Chris (August 23, 2012). "Chris Hicks: Robert Redford cut his teeth on '60s TV". Deseret News. Salt Lake City. Retrieved September 28, 2022.
  29. ^ a b "Louise Fletcher: Facts & Related Content". Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. January 9, 2018. Retrieved September 28, 2022.
  30. ^ Dagan, Carmel (September 23, 2022). "Louise Fletcher, Oscar Winner for 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,' Dies at 88". Variety. Retrieved September 28, 2022.
  31. ^ "Television Listings". New York. Vol. 21, no. 35. New York Media. September 5, 1988. p. 100. ISSN 0028-7369.
  32. ^ a b c d "Louise Fletcher". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 28, 2022.
  33. ^ "'90210' Makes College Plans". Sun-Sentinel. Fort Lauderdale, Florida. October 29, 1992. Retrieved September 28, 2022.
  34. ^ "Dream On Season 6 Episodes". TV Guide. Retrieved September 28, 2022.
  35. ^ Newcott, Bill (March 2007). "Movies for Grownups Awards 2007". AARP The Magazine.
  36. ^ "48th Oscars Highlights". Oscars.org. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. September 12, 2014. Retrieved September 29, 2022. Louise Fletcher winning Best Actress for 'One Flew Over...
  37. ^ Holloway Cheney, Diane (2021). Academy Award Winning Movies 1928–2020: How Movies Have Changed Through the Years. Gatekeeper Press. ISBN 978-1-6629-1894-0.
  38. ^ Peralta, Paulo (January 13, 2020). "CinEuphoria: CinEuphoria Prémios 2020 – Prémio Honorário: Carreira". CinEuphoria.
  39. ^ "The main question in tonight's presentations of the second…". United Press International. March 12, 1981. Retrieved September 28, 2022.
  40. ^ Derby, Gold (March 7, 2016). "2012 GOLDDERBY TV AWARDS". GoldDerby. Retrieved June 28, 2021.
  41. ^ "Louise Fletcher". www.goldenglobes.com. Retrieved June 28, 2021.
  42. ^ "1st Annual TV Awards (1996–97) – Online Film & Television Association". Retrieved June 28, 2021.
  43. ^ "2nd Annual TV Awards (1997–98) – Online Film & Television Association". Retrieved June 28, 2021.
  44. ^ "3rd Annual TV Awards (1998–99) – Online Film & Television Association". Retrieved June 28, 2021.
  45. ^ "16th Annual TV Awards (2011–12) – Online Film & Television Association". Retrieved June 28, 2021.
  46. ^ Montalbano, Dave (2010). The Adventures of Cinema Dave in the Florida Motion Picture World. Xlibris Corporation. p. 83. ISBN 978-1-4628-3673-4.
  47. ^ "Louise Fletcher". Television Academy. Retrieved June 28, 2021.
  48. ^ Kilday, Gregg (February 21, 2016). "Satellite Awards: 'Spotlight' Collects Four Prizes, Including Best Picture". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 26, 2022. Oscar winner Louise Fletcher was this year's recipient of the group's Mary Pickford Award for contributions to the entertainment industry.
  49. ^ "Fletcher". Star Trek. Retrieved September 28, 2022.
  50. ^ "'Robocop' Leads In Nominations For Saturn Awards". Associated Press News. April 7, 1988. Retrieved September 28, 2022.

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