Milos Forman, ‘Cuckoo’s Nest’ Director, Dead at 86

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Director Milos Forman, whose work included the Academy Award-winning films One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Amadeus, died April 13 in Connecticut. The cause and place of death were not reported.

Born Jan Tomáš Forman in Čáslav, Czechoslovakia, on Feb. 18, 1932, he started as an actor/writer in the mid ’50s, then moved into directing. Forman came to the United States in the late ’60s, after having established himself in his homeland with films like Loves of a Blonde (an Oscar nominee for best foreign-language film) and The Fireman’s Ball. His first American-made film, Taking Off, failed to do just that but Forman’s 1975 adaptation of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, based on Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel about life in a mental institution, became a major film of its era. Starring Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher, the film swept the Oscars, taking awards for Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay.

In 1979, Forman filmed another adaptation, this time of the Broadway musical Hair, which achieved only middling reviews and financial success. Ragtime, in 1981, with music by Randy Newman, was nominated for eight Oscars and was followed in 1984 by an adaptation of Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus, centering of classical music composer Wofgang Amadeus Mozart. Starring Tom Hulce, Elizabeth Berridge and F. Murray Abraham, it garnered several Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor for Abraham.

Related: Jonathan Demme, another Oscar-winning director, died in 2017

Forman’s later films included The People vs. Larry Flynt, the story of the porn magnate, starring Woody Harrelson, Courtney Love and Edward Norton (Forman was nominated for Best Director, but did not win); Man on the Moon, about the late comic Andy Kaufman, which starred Jim Carrey (who won a Golden Globe for his performance); and several others.

Watch the original trailer for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

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