The legendary actress died at the age of 88 on last Friday in France.
Louise Fletcher, the legendary actress, previously said that there is one thing all her house guests want to see when they came into her home. She told The Wrap, "It’s usually the first thing they want to see, even before they see me. They always ask if they can hold it and they always say, ‘Oh, it’s heavy.'" It is the eight-pound heavy Academy Award that she won on March 29, 1976. Fletcher received this highest accolade as an actor for her role in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The actor died in her home in France at the age of 88 on 23rd September, per Variety. The devastating news shocked her fans across the world, who are now honoring her legacy and memory.
Forty-four years ago, the night that Fletcher won an oscar was iconic and emotional in all its senses. At that time, Gerald Ford was president, the United States was celebrating its bicentennial, and Fletcher was scaring audiences worldwide with her cold-eyed, starring portrayal of Nurse Ratched, a legendary cinematic antagonist. People watching the Oscars that night, however, saw a very different outpouring of passion from the stage. Fletcher gave one of the best Oscar acceptance speeches of all time.
She decided to honor her father and mother, both of whom were born deaf. She went from witty and humorous words to an emotional and moving tribute as she spoke to her parents in American Sign Language. She said using ASL, "I wanted to say thank you for teaching me to have a dream. You are seeing my dream come true."
RIP Louise Fletcher, whose extraordinary iconic performance as Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest will forever be remembered, as will her amazing and deeply moving Oscar speech which she ended by speaking to her deaf parents in ASL. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/hLbxfk2aKl— Reel and Roll Films - Jupe & Jobu Tupaki Freak (@reelandroll) September 24, 2022
She said in an interview before last year's Oscar ceremony, "I don’t know how so many years could go by so fast. It was 45 years ago and I wasn’t too young when I made the movie. Well, I mean, I was 41, and that seemed old to me back then. Which is a funny thing to say now that I’m 86."
"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" was the first film in over four decades to win the best picture, director, actor, actress, and screenplay. It was nominated for four more Oscars and was a huge box office success.
RIP Nurse Ratched #LouiseFletcher pic.twitter.com/bbmChrpPGy— Jonathan Frakes (@jonathansfrakes) September 24, 2022
Fletcher's Nurse Ratched was ranked the fifth-greatest villain in film history — and the second-greatest villainess, trailing only the "Wicked Witch of the West" — in the American Film Institute TV special "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes & Villains."
Fletcher told the outlet, "We had the most amazing childhood, my brother and sisters and I. My parents would tell us, ‘You can do anything you want with your life, whatever you choose is fine with us.’ I didn’t fully realize it until later how rare that is." She knew that she wanted to honor her parents weeks before the Oscars. She said, "If I got the chance, I would have to thank them. I was compelled to thank them. I don’t know how to impress on you what it meant to be their child. It was such a beautiful, rich childhood for all of us. I needed my parents to know that they were the reason that I succeeded."
Louise Fletcher was 40 and largely unknown when she was cast as Nurse Ratched in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." She won an Oscar for the role, and the American Film Institute named Nurse Ratched as one of the most memorable villains in film history. https://t.co/KTemkoZord pic.twitter.com/RxkrFqReEx— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 24, 2022
Nobody knew that she would be using ASL during her speech except her sister Georgina who told her that she would use a version of ASL that could be translated into perfect English. Her parents Reverend R.C. and Estelle Fletcher were watching the show on TV in Alabama. She said, "I got to see a video of them watching me on television when I won. I saw their reaction at the moment, which was such a wonderful thing. They were so moved and so proud."
Cover Image Source: (L) Oscars | Youtube ; (R) Getty Images | David Livingston