Oscar Winner & ‘Deep Space Nine’ Guest Star Louise Fletcher Dead at 88

Louise Fletcher

Paramount Louise Fletcher as Kai Winn in "What You Leave Behind."

Oscar-winning actress and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” recurring guest star Louise Fletcher is dead at age 88, according to The New York Times. The newspaper, citing her agent, reported that Fletcher died on Friday, September 23, 2022, at her home in Montdurausse, a town in Southern France. A cause of death was not provided.

Fletcher was born Estelle Louise Fletcher on July 22, 1934, in Birmingham, Ala., and, according to the New York Times, she was one of four hearing children of Robert Capers Fletcher, an Episcopal minister, and Estelle (Caldwell) Fletcher, both of whom were deaf since birth. Fletcher studied drama at the University of North Carolina and relocated to Los Angeles upon graduation in order to pursue acting. She studied acting with teacher and actor Jeff Corey, who, according to Memory Alpha, was also one of Leonard Nimoy’s acting coaches and later played Plasus in the “Star Trek: The Original Series” episode, “The Cloud Minders.”

Fletcher Made Her ‘DS9’ Debut as Winn in the First-Season Episode, ‘In the Hands of the Prophets’ 

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Starting in 1958, Fletcher became a regular presence in television shows and, later, in movies. She ultimately amassed nearly 140 screen credits, according to the Internet Movie Database. Those credits include “Playhouse 90,” “Maverick,” “The Untouchables,” “A Gathering of Eagles,” “Thieves Like Us,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “The Lady in Red,” “Firestarter,” “Brainstorm,” “Blue Steel,” “The Player,” “Virtuosity,” “VR.5,” “The Practice,” “Cruel Intentions,” “Joan of Arcadia,” “Picket Fences,” “ER,” “Heroes,” “Shameless,” “A Perfect Man,” and her final project, two 2017 episodes of the show “Girlboss.” She received Emmy Award nominations for “Joan of Arcadia” and “Picket Fences.”

Fletcher, based on the power of her Academy Award-winning performance as the evil Nurse Ratched in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” was often called upon to play unlikable characters. She did so notably in the film “Flowers in the Attic” and on television in “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.” Fletcher, according to Memory Alpha, made her debut in 1993 as elaborately costumed Vedek — and later Kai — Winn Adami in the first-season episode “In the Hands of the Prophets” and went on to make 13 more appearances as the character all the way up to the series finale, “What You Leave Behind,” in 1999.

Fletcher Ultimately Appeared in 14 ‘DS9’ Episodes 

Louise Fletcher

GettyLouise Fletcher walks the red carpet at the 20212 premiere of “Shameless.”

Memory Alpha described Winn as follows: “An ambitious Bajoran religious leader and the first kai of Bajor elected after the Cardassian Occupation. A member of a frequently outspoken orthodox order, Winn was steadfastly rooted in her faith even as she proved a shamelessly arrogant and treacherous opportunist. In that regard, she often came into conflict with the Emissary of the Prophets, Benjamin Sisko, whom she considered an outsider unworthy of receiving the wisdom of the Prophets. After years of living in Sisko’s shadow, however, and a lifetime of never receiving any guidance and affirmation from the Prophets whom she had served and sworn allegiance to all her life, she eventually turned against them. However, she realized her error and died trying to undo it.”

Speaking to StarTrek.com, the official “Star Trek” site, in 2012, Fletcher said, “She wanted power and she was ambitious. She was sort of a Margaret Thatcher in space, or, as I used to say, I was the Pope in space. People would say, ‘Oh, you’re doing “Star Trek.” Who are you playing?’ I’d say, ‘Think the Pope in space, except she’s like an ancient Pope, from the old days when Popes were ruthless and powerful and exerted their powers and fought wars and did all kinds of naughty things.’”

Fletcher also marveled to the official site in that same interview about Kai Winn’s enduring popularity. “I still get fan mail,” she said. “People are still interested. They still want your autograph. Or they’ll send those (“Deep Space Nine” trading) cards and ask you to sign them and send them back. I would say that my mail is 40 percent ‘Cuckoo’s Nest,’ 40 percent ‘Star Trek,’ and 20 percent other shows and movies. And that’s great. I’m glad I did ‘Star Trek.’ I’m so glad I’m part of that whole happening.”

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Fletcher is survived by two sons, John and Andrew, and her sister, Roberta.

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