I Killed Louise Fletcher!

Well, I didn’t, but it sure seems that way. I mentioned her in this post only yesterday and then, boom, she dies! Cause and effect, right? That’s the kind of science that elects Presidents in this country! Anyway, one of the main reasons I love my wife is that she is fond of saying things like “Why is everyone so mean to that nice Nurse Ratched, who was only trying to help those mentally disturbed men?” I could never truly love anyone who wasn’t at war with the entire universe.

Fletcher’s chilling, ice cool, Oscar winning performance as Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) is of course the most famous creation of the late Louise Fletcher (1934-2022). One might have expected that it would lead to more critically acclaimed work, but something interesting and frankly wonderful happened. Fletcher’s ability to be terrifying led her down a path similar to those taken by Karloff and Vincent Price, a huge preponderance of terrible horror and sci fi movies (and some good ones). Her subsequent credits include Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), Mama Dracula (1980), Strange Behavior (1981), Strange Invaders (1983), Brainstorm (1983), Firestarter (1984), Invaders from Mars (1986), The Boy Who Could Fly (1986), the scary grandma in Flowers in the Attic (1987), Shadowzone (1990), The Haunting of Sea Cliff Inn (1994), Frankenstein and Me (1996), The Stepford Husbands (1996), a recurring role on Deep Space Nine, all the way to Grizzly II: The Revenge, shot in 1983 but released only recently. And there’s much more of a similar caliber in her dossier.

Naturally, Fletcher did other stuff as well. She started out in live TV drama in the ’50s, and TV work is probably where she met Robert Altman, who gave her a great role in Thieves Like Us (1974), co-produced by her then husband Jerry Bick. Raised by two deaf parents, Fletcher was slated to play the role of Ned Beatty’s wife in Nashville (1975) a part that had been created with her and her signing ability in mind. But Altman fell out with Bick, and so Fletcher’s part went to Lily Tomlin. Fletcher divorced Bick in 1977. You can also see her in Neil Simon’s The Cheap Detective (1978), Menahem Golan’s The Magician of Lubin (1979), etc. Her last credits were on the show Girlboss (2017).

In 1998 Fletcher got into trouble for running over a highway patrolman who was removing a deer carcass from the road. I’m sure it was an accident but in my imaginary bio-pic The Louise Fletcher Story, I picture her aiming her vehicle very carefully.