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Estelle Louise Fletcher

Also Known As: "Louise Fletcher"
Birthplace: Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama, United States
Death: September 23, 2022 (88) (Natural Causes, died in her sleep)
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Robert Capers Fletcher and Estelle Fletcher
Ex-wife of Jerry Bick
Mother of Private and Private
Sister of Private; Private and Private

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Louise Fletcher

Estelle Louise Fletcher was 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

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 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.

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

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.



Louise Fletcher (1934-2022 ) was a television and film actress from Birmingham, Jefferson County. She is best known for her iconic portrayal of Nurse Ratched in the 1975 film One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, for which she won an Academy Award for Best Actress.

Born in Birmingham on July 22, 1934, Estelle Louise Fletcher was one of four children of Robert and Estelle Fletcher, who were both deaf. Robert Fletcher was an Episcopal priest who ministered in sign language to a congregation of deaf and hearing-impaired people in Birmingham. Fletcher and her siblings were not hearing impaired, but Fletcher was so shy that her first teacher thought she was deaf and recommended that her parents send her to a school for the hearing impaired. This angered her father, who wanted his children to be successful in the hearing world. As a result, he sent each of his children to spend time with his wife's hearing sister in Texas. Thus, Louise Fletcher grew up in two different worlds. When she was three years old, she spent a year with her hearing aunt and would spend three months of each year of her childhood in Bryan, Texas. In her wealthy aunt's home, Fletcher learned to speak and was also introduced to acting. This lifestyle was a stark contrast to life in her parents' modest home in Alabama and visits with her father to minister at nearby asylums to the deaf residents.

Fletcher graduated from Ramsay High School in Birmingham and then attended the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (UNC). She participated in the theatre department at UNC and graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in 1957. After graduation, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting. There, she worked as a receptionist during the day and took acting classes at night. In 1958, Fletcher had her first small role in an episode of the television series Bat Masterson. For the next several years, she acted almost continuously, appearing in various television series, including Maverick and The Untouchables.

In 1962, Fletcher married Jerry Bick, a Hollywood producer and friend of director Robert Altman. The following year, she made her film debut with a small, uncredited role in the war drama, A Gathering of Eagles. Also in 1963, her first son was born. In 1964, Fletcher became pregnant with her second son and retired from acting to raise her children. After an 11-year hiatus, Fletcher agreed, at the urging of her husband and Altman, to take a role in Altman's 1974 film Thieves Like Us, although she initially refused because her husband was a coproducer. She played the role of a law-abiding woman who betrays her brother to the police in hopes of protecting her children. The film was set in 1930s Mississippi, and Altman thought her southern upbringing made her perfect for the role.

Fletcher's role in Thieves Like Us caught the attention of director Miloš Forman, who was working on a film adaptation of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), Ken Kesey's book about life in a mental hospital. To prepare for her role, Fletcher observed group therapy sessions at Oregon State Hospital in Salem, Oregon, where the movie was filmed. Although she won a Golden Globe and awards for Best Actress at the American and British Academy Awards, she was disturbed by her character's cruelty and never watched the film. At the end of her acceptance speech at the American Academy Awards ceremony, she used sign language to thank her parents, who watched from their home in Birmingham. This action intrigued the press and brought attention to the deaf community.

Her next film, Exorcist II: The Heretic, came out in 1977 and was unsuccessful. The following year, she and Bick divorced but remained close friends. Despite the lukewarm reception of Exorcist II, Fletcher would go on to create a niche for herself in horror and science fiction film and television. Several popular performances include roles in the films Brainstorm (1983) and Flowers in the Attic (1987) and the television series VR.5 (1995-1997). From 1993 to 1999, she played Kai Winn Adami on the science-fiction series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

In 1996, Fletcher had a guest role on the CBS series Picket Fences that won her an Emmy nomination. In 1999, she was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award in her hometown of Birmingham at the city's inaugural Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival. She received a second Emmy nomination for her role on the CBS series Joan of Arcadia in 2004. In 2009, Fletcher had a recurring role on the popular NBC series Heroes. She played the mother of a deaf child and used her knowledge of sign language on the show. More recently, she played William H. Macy's mother on the Showtime series Shameless (2012). Fletcher lives in Los Angeles but remains involved with St. John's Episcopal Deaf Church in Birmingham, where her father was the first rector. She has served on the board of the National Institute of Health's National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. She continues to act in film and television.

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Louise Fletcher's Timeline

July 22, 1934
Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama, United States
September 23, 2022
Age 88