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

Czech-born filmmaker won two Oscars in storied career

milos forman
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Milos Forman, the Czech-born filmmaker who won two Oscars for directing classics such as “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Amadeus,” died on Friday at age 86.

His wife, Martina, broke the news to the Czech news agency CTK on Saturday, according to Reuters. After fleeing his homeland following a Communist crackdown in the late 1960s, Forman quickly established himself in Hollywood as a filmmaker gifted at telling stories of rebels and the burgeoning counterculture.

He won an Oscar for directing 1975’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” which starred Jack Nicholson as a criminal who ends up in a psychiatric facility after pleading insanity and rebels against an oppressive nurse played by Louise Fletcher.

A decade later, he directed the eight-fold Oscar winner “Amadeus,” which depicted the life of 18th-century composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart through the eyes of his rival Antonio Salieri.

He earned a third nomination for 1996’s “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” a depiction of the porn magazine publisher’s protracted legal fight for First Amendment rights.

Other notable films include 1979’s “Hair,” based on the summer-of-love Broadway musical, 1981’s “Ragtime,” 1989’s “Valmont” and 1999’s “Man on the Moon,” a biopic of comedian Andy Kaufman starring Jim Carrey.

Born in the Czech town of Caslav in 1932, he was raised as an orphan because both of this parents were killed in concentration camps during World War II.

After studying at the Prague Film Academy, he became a leading figure in the Czechoslovak New Wave film movement. Several of his early films, including 1964’s “Black Peter” and the 1967 satire “The Fireman’s Ball,” were banned by Czech authorities.

He moved to the U.S. following his native country’s “Prague Spring” uprising against the Communist regime in 1968; he became a U.S. citizen in the 1970s.

In 2007, he returned to Prague to direct a revival of the comic jazz opera “A Walk Worthwhile” that had first been staged in the 1960s. He also shot a film version, released internationally in 2009.