Estelle Louise Fletcher (born July 22, 1934) is an Academy Award-winning, American film and television actress. She initially debuted in the television series 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. She became only the third actress to win an Academy Award, BAFTA Award and Golden Globe Award for a single performance, after Audrey Hepburn and Liza Minnelli. Other notable film roles include Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), 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 missionary 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 1960, divorcing in 1977. The couple had two sons, John Dashiell Bick and Andrew Wilson Bick. Fletcher took an 11-year hiatus from acting to raise her sons.



1963A Gathering of EaglesMrs. KemlerUncredited
1974Thieves Like UsMattie
1975One Flew Over the Cuckoo's NestNurse RatchedAcademy Award for Best Actress
BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated—New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
1975Russian RouletteMidge
1977Exorcist II: The HereticDr. Gene Tuskin
1978The Cheap DetectiveMarlene DuChard
1979Natural EnemiesMiriam Steward
1979The Magician of LublinEmilia
1979The Lady in RedAnna Sage
1980Mama DraculaMama Dracula
1980The Lucky StarLoes Bakker
1981Strange BehaviorBarbara Moorehead
1983BrainstormDr. Lillian ReynoldsSaturn Award for Best Actress
1983Strange InvadersMrs. Benjamin
1983Overnight SensationEve Peregrine – 'E. K. Hamilton'
1984FirestarterNorma Manders
1984Talk to MeMrs. Patterson
1986Nobody's FoolPearl
1986The Boy Who Could FlyPsychiatrist
1986Invaders from MarsMrs. McKeltchNominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress
1987Flowers in the AtticOlivia FoxworthNominated—Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress
1987Grizzly II: The PredatorPark Supervisor
1988Two Moon JunctionBelle Delongpre
1989Best of the BestMrs. Grady
1989The Karen Carpenter StoryAgnes Carpenter
1990Blue SteelShirley Turner
1990ShadowzoneDr. Erhardt
1991In A Child's NameJean Taylor
1994Someone Else's ChildFaye
1995Return to Two Moon JunctionBelle Delongpre
1995VirtuosityElizabeth Deane
1996The Stepford HusbandsMiriam Benton
1996Edie & PenJudge
1996Mulholland FallsEstherUncredited
1996Frankenstein and MeMrs. Perdue
1996High School HighPrincipal Evelyn Doyle
19962 Days in the ValleyEvelyn
1997Breast MenMrs. SaundersTelevision movie
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
1997The Girl Gets MoeGloria
1997Gone Fishin'Restaurant OwnerUncredited
1998Love KillsAlena Heiss
1999A Map of the WorldNellie Goodwin
1999Cruel IntentionsHelen Rosemond
1999The Devil's ArithmeticAunt Eva
1999The ContractGrandma Collins
2000More Dogs Than BonesIva Doll
2000Very Mean MenKatherine Mulroney
2000Big EdenGrace Cornwell
2000Silver ManVal
2001After ImageAunt Cora
2001Touched by a KillerJudge Erica Robertson
2001Dial 9 for LoveAbbie
2002Manna from HeavenMother Superior
2003Finding HomeEsther
2004Clipping AdamGrammy
2005Aurora BorealisRuth Shorter
2005Dancing in TwilightEvelyn
2006Fat Rose and SqueakyBonnie
2006Me and LukeGrandmother Glennie
2007A Dennis the Menace ChristmasMartha Wilson
2007The Last Sin EaterMiz Elda
2013A Perfect ManAbbie


1958Playhouse 90Pete's GirlEpisode: "Seven Against the Wall"
1958Bat MastersonSarah Lou ConantEpisode: "Cheyenne Club"
1959MaverickKathy BentEpisode: "The Saga of Waco Williams"
1960Perry MasonGladys DoyleEpisode: "The Case of the Mythical Monkeys"
1961The Life and Legend of Wyatt EarpAithra McLoweryEpisode: "The Law Must Be Fair"
1990In the Heat of the NightCatherine TylerEpisode: "December Days"
1991Tales from the CryptAgentEpisode: "Top Billing"
1993–1999Star Trek: Deep Space NineWinn Adami14 episodes
1995–1997VR.5Mrs. Nora Bloom6 episodes
1996Picket FencesChristine Bey2 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
1998The PracticeJudge N. SwansonEpisode: "Rhyme and Reason"
2004Joan of ArcadiaEva GarrisonEpisode: "Do the Math"
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
20057th HeavenMrs. WagnerEpisode: "Honor Thy Mother"
2005ERRoberta 'Birdie' Chadwick3 episodes
2009HeroesDoctor Coolidge2 episodes
2010–2011Private PracticeFrances Wilder2 episodes
2011–2012ShamelessPeggy Gallagher4 episodes