Louise Fletcher

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Louise Fletcher
Hugh O'Brian Louise Fletcher Wyatt Earp 1961 CROP.png
Fletcher on the set of The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, 1961
Born Estelle Louise Fletcher
(1934-07-22) July 22, 1934 (age 79)
Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1958–present
Spouse(s) Jerry Bick (1960-1977) (divorced); 2 sons

Estelle Louise Fletcher (born July 22, 1934), is an American film and television actress. She initially debuted in television series such as Maverick in 1959 before being cast in Robert Altman's Thieves Like Us (1974). The following year, Fletcher gained international recognition for her performance as Nurse Ratched in the 1975 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. Other notable film roles include Brainstorm (1983), Firestarter (1984), Flowers in the Attic (1987), 2 Days in the Valley (1996), and Cruel Intentions (1999).

Later into her career, Fletcher returned to television, appearing as Kai Winn Adami in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, as well as receiving Emmy nominations for her guest starring roles in Picket Fences and Joan of Arcadia. Most recently, Fletcher has appeared in a recurring role on the Showtime television series Shameless in 2011 and 2012, as Frank Gallagher's foul-mouthed and hard-living mother who is serving a prison sentence for manslaughter.

Early life[edit]

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.[1] Fletcher's father founded more than 40 churches for the deaf in Alabama.[2] Fletcher and her siblings, Roberta, John and Georgianna,[2] were all born without any hearing loss;[3] 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 at the National Film Society convention in May 1979.)

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.[4] 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 consequently cast her as McMurphy's nemesis Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (1975). Fletcher gained international recognition and fame for the role, winning Academy Award for Best Actress, as well as a BAFTA Award and Golden Globe. When Fletcher accepted her Oscar, she used sign language to thank her parents.[5]

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 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.

Personal life[edit]

Fletcher married literary agent and producer Jerry Bick in 1959, divorcing in 1978.[5] The couple had two sons, John Dashiell Bick and Andrew Wilson Bick.[6] Fletcher took an 11-year hiatus from acting to raise her sons.[5]


List of acting credits in film and television
Year Title Role Notes
1963 A Gathering of Eagles Mrs. Kemler uncredited
1974 Thieves Like Us Mattie
1975 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Nurse Ratched Academy Award for Best Actress
BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress (2nd place)
Russian Roulette Midge
1977 Exorcist II: The Heretic Dr. Gene Tuskin
1978 The Cheap Detective Marlene DuChard
1979 Natural Enemies Miriam Steward
The Magician of Lublin Emilia
The Lady in Red Anna Sage
1980 Mama Dracula Mama Dracula
The Lucky Star Loes Bakker
1981 Strange Behavior Barbara Moorehead
1983 Brainstorm Dr. Lillian Reynolds Saturn Award for Best Actress
Strange Invaders Mrs. Benjamin
Overnight Sensation Eve Peregrine – 'E. K. Hamilton'
1984 Firestarter Norma Manders
Talk to Me Richard's mother
1986 Nobody's Fool Pearl
The Boy Who Could Fly Psychiatrist
Invaders from Mars Mrs. McKeltch
1987 Flowers in the Attic Grandmother – Olivia Foxworth Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress
Grizzly II: The Predator Park Supervisor
1988 Two Moon Junction Belle Delongpre
1989 Best of the Best Mrs. Grady
The Karen Carpenter Story Agnes Carpenter
1990 Blue Steel Shirley Turner
Shadowzone Dr. Erhardt
1991 In A Child's Name Jean Taylor
1993–1999 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Winn Adami
1994 Giorgino Innkeeper
Tryst Maggie
Tollbooth Lillian
Someone Else's Child Faye
1995 Return to Two Moon Junction Belle Delongpre
Virtuosity Elizabeth Deane
1996 The Stepford Husbands Miriam Benton
Edie & Pen Judge
Mulholland Falls Esther uncredited
Frankenstein and Me Mrs. Perdue
High School High Principal Evelyn Doyle
2 Days in the Valley Evelyn
1997 Breast Men Mrs. Saunders Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
The Girl Gets Moe Gloria
Gone Fishin' Restaurant Owner uncredited
1998 Love Kills Alena Heiss
1999 A Map of the World Nellie Goodwin
Cruel Intentions Helen Rosemond
The Contract Grandma Collins
2000 More Dogs Than Bones Iva Doll
Very Mean Men Katherine Mulroney
Big Eden Grace Cornwell
Silver Man Val
2001 After Image Aunt Cora
Touched by a Killer Judge Erica Robertson
Dial 9 for Love Abbie
2002 Manna from Heaven Mother Superior
2003 Finding Home Esther
2004 Clipping Adam Grammy
2005 Aurora Borealis Ruth Shorter
Dancing in Twilight Evelyn
ER Roberta 'Birdie' Chadwick
2006 Fat Rose and Squeaky Bonnie
Me and Luke Grandmother Glennie
2007 A Dennis the Menace Christmas Martha Wilson
The Last Sin Eater Miz Elda
2009 Heroes Doctor Coolidge
2010 Private Practice Pete Wilder's mother
2011–2012 Shameless Peggy Gallagher Guest Star season 1 and 2


  1. ^ Louise Fletcher. Yahoo Movies.
  2. ^ a b "Rev. John Fletcher, 87; Ministered to the Deaf", The New York Times, 16 March 1988.
  3. ^ Robertson, Nan. "The Fletchers: Family That Heard The Silent Thanks", The New York Times, 5 April 1976.
  4. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlyGH4G39KE
  5. ^ a b c Weinraub, Bernard. "Oscar's Glory is Fleeting. Ask One Who Knows", The New York Times, 27 March 1995.
  6. ^ "Jerry Bick, Literary agent, producer", Variety, 22 November 2004.

External links[edit]