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Nurse Ratched Slept Here

from The New York Times

Once a ‘Cuckoo’s Nest,’ Now a Museum


Thomas Patterson for The New York Times

The movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” was filmed at the Oregon State Hospital in Salem. The new  Museum of Mental Health  honors the experiences of the patients who have lived there over the decades. More Photos »

SALEM, Ore. — Nurse Ratched slept here.

The punctiliously cruel psychiatric ward tyrant in the book and movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” was brought to cinematic life by the actress Louise Fletcher during filming here at the Oregon State Hospital in the 1970s.

But the melding of real life and art went far beyond the film set. Take the character of John Spivey, a doctor who ministers to Jack Nicholson’s doomed insurrectionist character, Randle McMurphy. Dr. Spivey was played by Dr. Dean Brooks, the real hospital’s superintendent at the time.

Dr. Brooks read for the role, he said, and threw the script to the floor, calling it unrealistic — a tirade that apparently impressed the director, Milos Forman. Mr. Forman ultimately offered him the part, Dr. Brooks said, and told the doctor-turned-actor to rewrite his lines to make them medically correct. Other hospital staff members and patients had walk-on roles.

Now jump cut to the present: the office and treatment rooms of the hospital, which opened in 1883, have been turned into a Museum of Mental Health — one of only a few around the world that are part of a still-functioning hospital, which sprawls behind the old brick structure.

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Posted on April 3, 2013 by Editor

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