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Milos Forman, Oscar-winning ‘Cuckoo's Nest’ director, dead at 86

The legendary film director Milos Forman died on Friday, his wife told Czech media. He was 86 years old.

Forman, who directed “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, “Hair”, and “Amadeus”, died suddenly in the U.S. after a “short illness,” his wife Martina Zborilova told the Czech news agency CTK.

“His departure was calm and he was surrounded the whole time by his family and his closest friends,” she said.

His agent Dennis Aspland told the Daily News Forman died at Danbury Hosptial near his home in Warren, Conn.


Forman (c.), showing off his Berlin Film Festival honors alongside German director Wim Wenders, Denzel Washington, Paul Thomas Anderson and Chinese director Zhang Yimou.


Forman, who was born in the small town of Caslav in 1932, moved to U.S. in the 1960s and became widely known for his humanism, dark humor, and fascination with rebellious characters.

He studied at the University of Prague’s Film Institute before he kick-started his career — and the Czech New Wave with three hits in as many years.

Black Peter, his first major feature in 1964, won Forman international acclaim and his star only continued to rise with “Loves of a Blonde.”

The 1965 film is a bittersweet coming-of-age story that sold out in his home country before it was nominated for both an Oscar and a Golden Globe.

Just two years later, Forman made “The Firemen’s Ball”, a satirical look at the country’s communist regime. Despite being banned in Czechoslovakia, the film nabbed another Best Foreign Film nomination at the Academy Awards.

In a 2004 interview with the LA Times, Forman said, “When we started to make our films, they were really Czech films about Czech society and Czech little people — and who cares about Czech little people? So it was satisfying to have people in other countries respond.”


Forman won a Best Director Oscar for “The People v. Larry Flint.”


Forman eventually moved to the U.S., where he reportedly lived off a can of chili every day while living at the Chelsea Hotel in New York.

Forman’s early work caught the eye of Michael Douglas, who enlisted him to adapt “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

The film was instant hit that solidified the director as a formidable force in Hollywood, and he later directed “Amadeus”, “Hair”, “Ragtime”, and “The People vs Larry Flint.”

Forman’s first wife was actress Jana Brejchova. The two divorced after four years, and Forman went on to have twin sons with his second wife, actress Vera Kresadlova.

That marriage ended in 1999, and Forman married Zborilova. The two had another set of twins, who the director named after Andrew Kaufman and Jim Carrey.

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