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At the 20th annual PlayMakers Ball on Nov. 10, PlayMakers Repertory Company will honor actress Louise Fletcher ’57 with the PlayMakers Distinguished Achievement Award.
Fletcher, winner of the Academy and Golden Globe awards, joins a distinguished group of honorees representing all disciplines in the theater arts, including actors Jack Palance ’41, Eva Marie Saint, Faye Dunaway and Hume Cronyn, New York Times critic Frank Rich, costume designer William Ivey Long ’69, director Gene Saks and Broadway composer and lyricist Richard Adler ’43.
The black-tie PlayMakers Ball, held at The Carolina Inn, is the largest fundraising gala in the state and underwrites production costs and artist salaries for the nonprofit, professional theater in residence at UNC.
Fletcher is perhaps best known for her portrayal of the tyrannical Nurse Ratched in the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, for which she won both the 1975 American and British academy awards for best actress. A versatile and productive actress whose work spans nearly five decades, her ties to North Carolina run deep. She is a self-described “Playmaker” who trained with late UNC professor Foster Fitz-Simons and acted in the outdoor drama Unto These Hills in Cherokee.
Of her training in Chapel Hill, Fletcher mused, “One of the best lessons I learned was through my experience working as a Playmaker. I dug ditches to lay the cable in the Forest Theatre. I built sets and moved them. I learned how to stage-manage. All these jobs gave me a healthy attitude about the big picture.”
After graduation, Fletcher moved to Hollywood, landing roles in the classic television series Bat Masterson, Lawman, Maverick, 77 Sunset Strip, Wagon Train, The Untouchables and Perry Mason.
Her film credits include Robert Altman’s Thieves Like Us, Neil Simon’s The Cheap Detective, Lewis Teague’s The Lady in Red, Brainstorm The Boy Who Could Fly, Nobody’s Fool, Two Moon Junction, Blue Steel and Blind Vision. Brainstorm, filmed in North Carolina in 1981, marked the first time Fletcher had returned to the state since graduation.
Fletcher recently appeared on the small screen in the CBS drama Joan of Arcadia for which she was nominated for an Emmy.
When not working, Fletcher is an art dealer and recently completed a decadelong renovation of a farmhouse in southwest France. Fletcher has served on the board of the NIH Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders and other organizations for the deaf.