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Estelle Louise Fletcher (22 July 193423 September 2022; age 88) was the Academy Award-winning, Emmy Award-nominated American actress who played the Bajoran spiritual leader Vedek (later Kai) Winn Adami in fourteen episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

A screen legend in her own right, Fletcher was best known for her performance as Nurse Mildred Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, which earned her the 1975 Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Star Trek: Voyager guest star Brad Dourif was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in the film, while Michael Berryman, Peter Brocco, Christopher Lloyd, and Vincent Schiavelli also had roles. The film featured makeups by Fred Phillips.

Fletcher is one of only six Star Trek performers to have been nominated for a Best Leading Actress Academy Award (the others being Samantha Eggar, Whoopi Goldberg, Jean Simmons, Winona Ryder and Michelle Yeoh) and one of only two (the other being Yeoh) to have won the award.

Life and early career[]

Fletcher was born in Birmingham, Alabama. Both of her parents were deaf, and as a result, she learned sign language at a very early age. Her aunt, who taught her how to speak, also introduced her to acting.

Fletcher attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where in 1956 she acted in the Institute of Outdoor Drama. After graduation, she traveled to Los Angeles, working as a receptionist by day and taking acting classes at night. By the end of 1958, she was working regularly in television, and continued to do so for several years.

Fletcher made guest appearances on dozens of popular television series, including Maverick, Wagon Train, and Perry Mason. She also appeared in the second episode of CBS' The Untouchables, which, like Star Trek: The Original Series, was produced by Desilu Studios. She made her film debut with an uncredited role in A Gathering of Eagles (1963, featuring Robert Lansing).

Following her marriage to producer Jerry Bick in 1960 and subsequent motherhood, Fletcher went on a long hiatus to raise her family, returning in the 70s. Fletcher divorced Bick in 1978 after 18 years of marriage; they have two grown sons.


Fletcher returned to the silver screen when she was cast by legendary director Robert Altman in the 1974 film Thieves Like Us. Her co-stars in this film included Keith Carradine, John Schuck and Bert Remsen.

In January 1975, Fletcher won the role of Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Five other actresses had turned down the role, and Fletcher was cast only a week before filming began. Not only did Fletcher win the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance (which was presented to her by Jill Ireland and her husband Charles Bronson), but the film also won Best Picture, as well as three other Oscars. Her portrayal of a cruel, sadistic nurse in a 1950s mental ward, stifling patients' individuality (as well as their recovery), was ranked the fifth greatest screen villain by the American Film Institute. [1]

After winning her Academy Award, Fletcher starred in numerous other film projects, the majority of which feature fellow Star Trek alumni. In 1978, she had a memorable supporting role in The Cheap Detective, co-starring James Cromwell, David Ogden Stiers, Victor Tayback, and Jonathan Banks. The following year, she appeared with her Cuckoo's Nest co-star The Lady in Red (also featuring Dick Miller).

In 1983, Star Trek: The Motion Picture special effects director-turned-feature film director and producer Douglas Trumbull cast her in Brainstorm. That same year, she co-starred with fellow recurring Deep Space Nine performer Wallace Shawn in Strange Invaders, along with Kenneth Tobey, Dey Young and Thomas Kopache. Fletcher was also cast in Firestarter (1984, co-starring Leon Rippy). Fletcher won a Saturn Award as Best Actress from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films for her role in Brainstorm, and was also nominated for a Saturn Award for her performance in Flowers in the Attic (1987). In 1989, she was seen in Best of the Best, which was edited by William Hoy.


Fletcher had a role in Blue Steel (1990, co-starring Clancy Brown, Mike Starr, and William Marshall. She then appeared in In a Child's Name (1991, with Jeff Allin, Timothy Carhart, Dennis Cockrum, David Huddleston, Caroline Kava, and Mitch Ryan_. In 1992, she was a regular on The Boys of Twilight, along with Amanda McBroom. In 1994, Fletcher co-starred with David Warner in the thriller Tryst, with Seymour Cassel in Tollbooth, and with Bruce Davison in the TV movie Someone Else's Child.

In 1995, Fletcher portrayed Elizabeth Deane in Virtuosity. She then portrayed Nora Bloom on VR.5. Fletcher then guest-starred in two 1996 episodes of Picket Fences, earning an Emmy Award nomination for her performance in her second episode. Ray Walston was a cast member of the series after recurring in season 1. Her character was the mother of the also deaf Marlee Matlin.

Fletcher was one of several Trek alumni to star in Breast Men (1997), her performance in which earned her a Golden Satellite Award nomination. Among her co-stars in Breast Men were Matt Frewer, Terry O'Quinn, Raphael Sbarge, Frank Novak, and Heidi Swedberg. In 2000, Fletcher co-starred with Whoopi Goldberg in More Dogs Than Bones, and in 2005, she co-starred with Erick Avari in Dancing in Twilight.

Fletcher earned her second Emmy Award nomination for her performance in an episode of CBS' Joan of Arcadia, on which Michael Welch was a regular. Fletcher then appeared on 7th Heaven (starring Stephen Collins and Catherine Hicks) and had a recurring role on NBC's ER. More recently, she portrayed Martha Wilson in the direct-to-video release, A Dennis the Menace Christmas.

In 2009, Fletcher guest-starred in two episodes of Heroes. Her first episode, "Ink," was directed by former Voyager regular Roxann Dawson and also guest-starred Robert Knepper and Rick Worthy. Her second episode, "Hysterical Blindness," featured series regulars Greg Grunberg, Zachary Quinto, and Cristine Rose.

For more film and TV projects, see Other Trek connections below.

As Winn Adami[]

In 1993, Fletcher accepted the role of Vedek Winn in the first season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Her portrayal of the inflexible, wry character gave it the condescending edge the part required. After two seasons, her character advanced to the status of Kai, which made her an even more integral part of the Deep Space Nine saga. Her recurring character on the series continued until the series finale in 1999.


Other Trek connections[]

Additional film & television works not mentioned above in which Fletcher worked with other Star Trek alumni are:

Feature films[]

TV series[]

TV movies[]

External links[]