When she attended the International Press Academy Awards and party five years ago, actress Louise Fletcher declared: “This is the best awards show I’ve ever been to”
And Fletcher was at the Academy Awards many times, once to pick up Best Actress for playing Nurse Ratched in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” And, that’s where she befriended another Oscar winner, Cloris Leachman, who played Frau Blucher in “Young Frankenstein”but won her award for Best Supporting Actress for “The Last Picture Show.”
That was the 16th annual International Press Academy awards show where domestic and foreign entertainment journalists hand out awards for excellence in movies, TV, games and DVDs. The show ended up with heckling from the audience—including the correct pronunciations of nominees as they were being read out—some personal confessions, and some Hollywood secrets revealed.
Cloris Leachman made snoring sounds during the video tribute for director Peter Bogdanovich, who directed her Academy Award winning role for “The Last Picture Show.” Her co-star Timothy Bottoms gave her a long deep kiss on stage and he said, “I learned that from you in the movie.” Then, when reading the tribute, Leachman stopped and said, “Can we read this a little faster? I’m getting hungry.”
Later, Louise Fletcher (Nurse Ratched) took the stage and declared, “This is the best awards show I’ve ever been to. It’s crazy!” This lesser-known awards show is made up of more than 100 journalists and is usually not a predictor of Oscar or Emmy wins, but the show is turning into a bit of a wild party, like the Golden Globes of a decade ago.
That year, Mitzi Gaynor was presented the Mary Pickford Award for artistic contribution to the entertainment industry, pointed to her nose and confessed, “A nose like this could not be made by God.” Gaynor also confessed that she went to an audition and said she was 18 (“I was really 20”) and met Mary Pickford. “She told me she saw me in Golden Girls and … and said ‘You have a long career ahead of you’ … and now I’m getting this award named after her,” Gaynor said breaking down in tears.
Now, Fletcher is being asked back to be the Mary Pickford Award honoree for Outstanding Contribution to the Entertainment Industry. She will be presented with a statuette on Sunday, Feb. 21 in Century City at the 20th Satellite Awards.
“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is adapted from Ken Kesey’s novel and directed by Miloš Forman, and it’s a favorite of US President Barack Obama. “I’m in his favorite movie. I feel honored because of that,” Fletcher said.
Part of Classic Hollywood, Louise Fletcher won worldwide acclaim at a time when star-actors such as Walter Matthau and Gene Kelly were on hand as “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” became only the second film in cinema history since 1934’s “It Happened One Night” to win ‘The Big Five’ awards. Those are: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Jack Nicholson), Best Actress, and Best Screenplay. (Only 1991’s “Silence of the Lambs” has since joined the two.)
A longtime artist-activist, Fletcher’s early life with deaf parents (whom she thanked while getting her Oscar by doing sign language) made her acutely aware of social issues. Hollywood’s recent diversity fracas is on her radar.
“One with leanings like mine would have expected this to change in a big, big, way by now,” Fletcher said. “And we see this in every aspect of life, not just the entertainment industry. But we can do better. And we have to do better. The Academy hates to be under pressure, but they do have an African-American President (Cheryl Boone Isaacs), When that happened, I expected things to change more, because it takes that kind of push, because it doesn’t seem to happen otherwise. It has been tooth-and-nail for Obama to be recognized, even in the highest position in the land. There couldn’t be a more thinking man, my heart goes out to him.”
Now on the 40th Anniversary of her Oscar win, Fletcher becomes the 20th Anniversary Mary Pickford Award recipient. She joins past honorees, including Ellen Burstyn, Mike Medavoy, Martin Landau, Gena Rowlands, Susan Sarandon, Robert Evans, Francis Ford Coppola, Maximilian Schell, Jodie Foster, Rod Steiger, Louis Gossett, Jr., Vanessa Williams, Terence Stamp and Kathy Bates.
“The funny thing is, the year I won, at the awards, they gave Mary Pickford an honorary award (Oscar),” Louise Fletcher added, “so I have a connection to her. They filmed it at her home because she was housebound.” Nicholson, who also won his first Oscar for “Cuckoo’s Nest,” said “and I’d like to thank Miss Pickford who, incidentally, I believe was the first actor to get a percentage of her pictures.”
The last time she was at the IPA Awards, Fletcher introduced Douglas Trumbull for the Nikola Tesla Award for visionary achievement in filmmaking. Trumbull worked on special effects for The Wizard of Oz, Blade Runner, Back to the Future, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Trek: The Movie. “Working with him on Brainstorm was the best time of my life, and I was having a heart attack in that,” quipped Fletcher. Brainstorm was also the movie that Natalie Wood was filming when she fell off a boat and drowned, and Trumbull had to figure out how to finish the movie without her. Now, with the investigation into her death opening up again, he said, “The situation with Natalie Wood was bad bad. It was a bad time for me and all involved, and I got this movie finished against all odds.” He talked about the “vipers in Hollywood” and one of the “worst experiences any director would ever have to go through.”
The IPA is among the largest, most diverse associations of professional entertainment journalists. See for Satellite Award information.