Milos Forman, 'Amadeus' and 'Cuckoo's Nest' Director, Dies at 86

Cristina Cross
April 15, 2018

The two-time Oscar victor passed away following a short illness, his third wife Martina confirmed to Czech news agency CTK.

Born in the town of Caslav east of Prague on February 18, 1932, Forman lost both parents in Nazi concentration camps.

He was the orphan of Nazi Holocaust victims, Forman had abandoned his homeland after communist troops invaded in 1968 and crushed a brief period of political and artistic freedom known as the Prague Spring.

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Forman recalled the last time he saw his father: when aged seven he was pulled out of class to see Forman senior escorted by two leather-coated members of the Gestapo.

"I was used to seeing the Russian and Czech films about composers, and they were the most boring films", he said.

His first American film was Taking Off in 1971 and he followed it up with One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in 1975, which became the second film to win five Oscars - picture, director, actor, actress and adapted screenplay.

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He became an established foreign film director in the 1960s for "Loves of a Blonde" and "The Firemen's Ball", which were nominated for Oscars in the best foreign-language film category. Aspland said Forman's wife, Martina, notified him of the death. With lavish costumes, Mozart's ravishing music and exceptional performances from actors Tom Hulce as Mozart and F. Murray Abraham as Salieri, Forman scored another artistic triumph.

Forman, by then an American citizen, returned to film the drama nearly entirely in Czechoslovakia. "The Communist Party was my Nurse Ratched, telling me what I could and could not do; what I was or was not allowed to say; where I was and was not allowed to go; even who I was and was not".

He received a third Oscar nomination for his 1996 film, "The People vs. Larry Flynt", a raucous and randy account of the First Amendment battles of Hustler magazines publisher Larry Flynt, who was played by Woody Harrelson. His other movies included Hair (1979), Ragtime (1981), Valmont (1989), Man on the Moon (1999) and Goya's Ghosts (2006), the latter of which proved to be his final directorial offering.

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"Amadeus" won eight Academy Awards, including for best picture and for Forman as best director. Their twin sons Andrew and James were named after Kaufman and Jim Carrey, who portrayed the madcap comic in Man on the Moon.

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