Fletcher at the National Film Society convention in May 1979.
|Born||Estelle Louise Fletcher
July 22, 1934
Birmingham, Alabama, US
|Spouse(s)||Jerry Bick (1960-1977) (divorced); 2 sons|
Estelle Louise Fletcher (born July 22, 1934), is an American actress. She gained international prominence for her performance as Nurse Ratched in the 1975 feature film One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress, BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role and Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama. She also won the Saturn Award for Best Actress for Brainstorm in 1983.
Fletcher was born in Birmingham, Alabama, the second of four children to Estelle Caldwell and the Reverend Robert Capers Fletcher, an Episcopal priest from Arab, Alabama. Both of her parents were deaf and worked with the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Fletcher's father founded more than 40 churches for the deaf in Alabama. Fletcher and her siblings, Roberta, John and Georgianna, were all born without any hearing loss; she was taught to speak by a hearing aunt, who also introduced her to acting. After attending the University of North Carolina, she traveled to Los Angeles, California, where she found work as a secretary by day and received acting lessons by night.
Fletcher began appearing in several television series, including Lawman in 1958 and Maverick in 1959. (The Maverick episode, "The Saga of Waco Williams", was the series' highest-rated episode.) Also in 1959, she appeared in the second episode of the original Untouchables TV series (starring Robert Stack), "Ma Barker and Her Boys" as Elouise. In 1960 Fletcher made two guest appearances on Perry Mason, both times as the defendant: Gladys Doyle in "The Case of the Mythical Monkeys," and 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 the NBC western television series, Tate, starring David McLean.
In 1974, she returned to film in Thieves Like Us, co-produced by her husband 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), for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. When Fletcher accepted her Oscar, she used sign language to thank her parents.
After Cuckoo's Nest, Fletcher had mixed success with movies. She made multiple good movies and a few that failed at the box office before succeeding with television roles. 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 Sebastian's aunt). Additionally, she played the character Ruth Shorter, a supporting role, in the 2005 film Aurora Borealis alongside Joshua Jackson and Donald Sutherland, and appeared in the Fox Faith film The Last Sin Eater (2007).
Fletcher co-starred in such made-for-TV movies 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. She also earned Emmy Award nominations for her guest roles on the Tom Skerritt's CBS television series, Picket Fences (1996), and later on Joan of Arcadia (2004). In 2009, Fletcher appeared in the NBC series Heroes as the physician mother of character Emma Coolidge. In 2011, she appeared in the Showtime series 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.
Fletcher married literary agent and producer Jerry Bick in 1959, divorcing in 1978. The couple had two sons, John Dashiell Bick and Andrew Wilson Bick. Fletcher took an 11-year hiatus from acting to raise her sons.
One Step Beyond Jeannie
- Louise Fletcher. Yahoo Movies.
- "Rev. John Fletcher, 87; Ministered to the Deaf", The New York Times, 16 March 1988.
- Robertson, Nan. "The Fletchers: Family That Heard The Silent Thanks", The New York Times, 5 April 1976.
- Weinraub, Bernard. "Oscar's Glory is Fleeting. Ask One Who Knows", The New York Times, 27 March 1995.
- "Jerry Bick, Literary agent, producer", Variety, 22 November 2004.