I've got some sad news to pass along, Berkshire County. Oscar-winning actress Louise Fletcher passed away from natural causes on Friday. This amazing woman was 88 years old.

Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely LOVE cinema. Everything from Halloween and Alien to Chinatown, Rashomon, and The Seventh Seal. Horror movies, cult classics, foreign flicks, black and white, period epics, trashy comedies, wars, and westerns. It doesn't matter.

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As a matter of fact, I loved movies before I ever even saw any movies. Well, outside of the occasional Disney movie or Swiss Family Robinson. Whenever my family would go visit my Grammy Tarbox in Newburyport, it was something I eagerly looked forward to.

You see, my Grammy had a huge picture book about movies! Filled with big, beautiful photographs of famous scenes from the world of cinema, and I would sit for hours on end with that coffee-table book in my lap lost in my own imagination.

The point that I'm trying to make is that even before I could really watch movies, I was already in love with them and I would faithfully watch every Academy Awards telecast to see which big movies(and big movie stars) would be taking home a trophy at the end of the evening.

I still remember the first time I was ever truly moved by an Oscar acceptance speech. It's literally crystal-clear in my mind. The family was gathered around the TV in the living room watching the 48th Annual Academy Awards and I was 6 years old. 6!!! I remember it as though it happened yesterday.

Some wonderful actresses were nominated for their outstanding performances in 1975. I remember good old Charles Bronson was a co-presenter(I didn't find out until later that the woman presenting the award with Chuck was his wife Jill Ireland).

When Louise Fletcher's name was announced as the winner of the Best Actress Academy Award I was like, "Okay, cool. I've heard of her. Congrats!" Then she got up on stage to give her speech and I was totally blown away. I remember fighting back tears just like she was.

I didn't find out until much later that Louis Fletcher was born to deaf parents. But you know what? That didn't matter. It was still very classy...and very touching. Take a look for yourself:

See what I mean? That's an honest, from-the-heart, classy lady. I want to go watch One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest for the 100th time now. Mind you, Louise Fletcher was much, MUCH more than Cuckoo's Nest.

If you asked me to name my all-time favorite actresses, Louise Fletcher probably wouldn't immediately come to mind, but upon reflection, I don't think she ever gave a bad performance. Indeed, she made some bad movies better. Even in the universally reviled Exorcist 2: The Heretic, she gave a full, committed performance.

Fletcher was absolutely wonderful in movies as diverse as Cruel Intentions, The Cheap Detective, Invaders From Mars(the remake), Blue Steel, The Lady In Red, Virtuosity, and 2 Days in the Valley, just to name a few. She was even fantastic in two little-seen early 1980s movies, Strange Invaders and Strange Behavior(weird movies but GREAT performances!).

Louise, thank you for all the great performances over the years and most of all thank you for that wonderful moment from 1976 when you showed the rest of the world how to give a truly heartfelt acceptance speech amidst all the glitz and glamour. You will be missed.

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