Her dream came true

The Academy Awards  loom.  There’s an awful lot of self-congratulation and puffery on display at these affairs, and the red carpet ceremonies, with their fawning questions and inane banter, became unwatchable many years ago.  I tune into the actual ceremony every year though, hoping that an upset, or an uproarious joke, or some genuine emotion, will make things memorable.  That hasn’t happened very often.

So I thought I’d make a brief post about a truly lovely moment from the 1976 ceremony (only the third one I ever watched), when “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” won the five top prizes.  Louise Fletcher earned the Best Actress trophy for her role as Mildred Ratched, the cold, tyrannical head nurse of a psychiatric hospital in Oregon.  Fletcher’s own demeanor, on display in her acceptance speech, is the antithesis of Ratched’s.  And I’ve never forgotten how she thanks her parents; it’s a moment of grace.

[The Oscars were a much lower key affair in 1976: fewer glitzy gowns and jewelry, less snazzy TV production values. And an apparent ban on smiling by nominees as their names were announced!]

Only three films have swept the awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Screenplay. “It Happened One Night” was the first, followed by “Cuckoo”; “Silence of The Lambs” was the last to do so.


  • Definitely different times. I will be watching any sporting event tonight. As an aside our oldest, Brian, who was a carpenter. put a new roof on Milos Foreman’s home in Litchfield. His only contact with Milos was “hi” on day 1.

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  • Very inspiring acceptance speech. It seems we’ve lost the element of humility over the years! Thanks for sharing! >

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  • I had forgotten that Charles Bronson and Jill Ireland announced the award. Charles Bronson was a veteran and always credited the GI bill as giving him the leg up on life he needed to make something of himself. As such he ardently supported the VA Hospital system. In 1976 he lived with Jill Ireland on their farm in West Windsor, VT – not too far away from Dartmouth Medical Center. I was a medical student in 1976 when Bronson and Ireland brought their two children into the VA outpatient clinic (White River Junction, VT) because the children had colds. They were very nice. Like most parents, they wanted antibiotics. (Trivia tidbit: Jill and Charles met in 1968. Jill was married to David McCallum (‘Man From Uncle’ fame). Charles and David were doing the movie: “The Great Escape.”) Jill died way too young of breast cancer in 1990.


  • What a wonderful acceptance speech; I teared up! I’m taping (tivo-ing) the show tonight to FF through tomorrow. I don’t care about spoilers since I [quiet voice] haven’t seen any of the films.

    I loved seeing her sign, although I wish she had spoken while signing the entire thing. I feel like that’s what a person with signing parents would more likely do now, don’t you? It helps bring signing into the “norm.” I don’t know if you knew we signed a bit when our kids were little. They had some speech delays (all three of them!) and signing is a way to help them communicate, reducing everyone’s frustration. It was simple stuff like “more,” “all done,” “cracker,” etc.

    It is really interesting to see how subdued everyone is in that clip! I’m going to go watch Nicholson’s speech now!

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  • Louise Fletcher’s performance was top notch. She committed to it and what ever source she was working with kept her in the truth. Great casting. She took the ball and made it her own. So much going on. Good stuff and a nod to good work.

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    • Thanks, CBH. Really glad you’re continuing to explore, and enjoy, past posts. It’s been years since I watched Cuckoo straight through in its entirety…I think it’s due for another viewing. Fletcher is a class act; which she’d been more active in film over the years.

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      • I’m up for a rewatch here also. The mainstream media gets on film for not having great roles for woman. This film along with ones like ‘Last Picture Show’, ‘Hud’ etc blow that all to hell. I put those performances up with my all time favorites. Yeah I’ll keep popping in from time to time.

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        • Last Picture Show = tremendous! Back before Jeff Bridges turned into ‘The Dude’ 24/7/365…!


        • Sam the Lion. It’s almost like he was a real person. I love McMurtry. Burstyn, Brennan, Leachman and Johnson. Give us that cast and we’ll make a film. Yeah ‘The Dude’ is a beauty, so’s Jeff. Later. CB

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