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The Devastating Death Of Louise Fletcher

Louise Fletcher, the Oscar-winning actor best known for her role as Nurse Ratched in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," died Friday at her home in Montdurausse, France. Her agent, David Shaul, announced the 88 year-old's death to Deadline. While her cause of death is unknown, Shaul said she died in her sleep with her family by her side. 

"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" director Milos Forman had sought out actors such as Ellen Burstyn, Faye Dunaway, and others before Fletcher took the role, according to TV Radio Talk (via littlereview.com). Fletcher told the publication that she understood why others had turned it down, saying, "Also, the part of Nurse Ratched does not offer an actress the opportunity for any great dramatic fireworks. It all has to be underplayed. While she is a neurotic character, she is nonetheless in absolute control of her emotions. A lot has to be implied, then, with the eyes or just a slight intonation of the voice." 

Fletcher's performance earned her not only an Academy Award, but also the BAFTA Award and Golden Globe Award. Perhaps more impressive is the way her subtle performance as the sadistic nurse has resonated through the ages, as evidenced by the character's place on AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Heroes and Villains list, as well as the recent Ryan Murphy's Netflix prequel series, "Ratched."

Fletcher is best remembered for playing dark characters

Born to deaf parents in Birmingham, Alabama, on July 22, 1934, Louise Fletcher began her acting career in the 1950s with roles on TV shows like "Maverick" and "Wagon Train." "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" represented a major step forward in her career, but not necessarily one that guaranteed future success. After she, Milos Forman, and Jack Nicholson all won Oscars for the film (Fletcher made sure to thank her parents in ASL during her acceptance speech), Forman correctly predicted their next films would be disappointments. "It was true. I made The Heretic — the second Exorcist — and it was a huge flop. Milos did Ragtime. And Jack did [The] Missouri Breaks," she told The New York Times in 1995. 

Fletcher had a hard time finding roles that didn't typecast her after "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." She is remembered for playing the power-hungry Vedek/Kai Wynn in "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," and Frank's violent, manipulative mother, "Grammy" Peggy Gallagher, on "Shameless." She also played memorable roles on "Picket Fences," "VR.5," and "Joan of Arcadia." Her best-known film appearances after "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" are "Cruel Intentions," "Virtuosity," and "Flowers in the Attic." 

While some actors become frustrated with a lack of roles as they get older, Fletcher took things in stride. "Some of us will always have to answer the question 'What have you done lately?'" she told The New York Times. "We get older and the executives get younger. You have to keep proving yourself. I'm not bitter. It's just the truth."

Fletcher is survived by her two sons and her granddaughter.