Miloš Forman, the Czech American filmmaker who may have been best-known for his Oscar-winning work on Amadeus and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, is dead at 86.
Forman died on Friday after a brief, unspecified illness, his wife, Martina Zborilova-Forman, told the Czech News Agency (h/t Variety). She said in a brief statement that “his departure was calm, and he was surrounded the whole time by his family and his closest friends.”
One of many directors making up film’s “Czech New Wave” of the 1960s, Forman’s first appearance on the Hollywood radar dates back to the middle years of that decade. His early works Loves of a Blonde and The Firemen’s Ball both scored “Best Foreign Film” nominations at the Academy Awards.
Forman’s earliest work in the United States was Taking Off, which turned out to be a critical and commercial failure despite winning the Grand Prix at the 1971 Cannes Film Festival. It did, however, lead him to connect with producers Michael Douglas and Saul Zaentz for what turned out to be his Hollywood breakout.
The 1975 adaptation of Ken Kesey’s novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, secured Forman his first Best Director win at the Academy Awards. It also won Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
In many ways, Cuckoo set the tone for Forman’s Hollywood work to follow, a filmography dominated largely by thoughtful adaptations and biographies. His best known works tell someone else’s story, from adaptations of Hair (a Broadway music) and Amadeus (a stage play) to biopics about Hustler founder Larry Flynt (The People vs. Larry Flynt) and comedian Andy Kaufman (Man on the Moon).
Forman’s passing prompted a swift response from major figures in Hollywood and beyond.
Crushed tonight to learn of the passing of one of the great teachers in my life, Milos Foreman. He leaves behind a beautiful and moving and artistically daring collection of films and also many other students touched by his generosity, charm and brilliance. RIP.
— Mangold (@mang0ld) April 14, 2018
Milos Forman was our friend and our teacher. He was a master filmmaker – no one better at capturing small unrepeatable moments of human behavior. We made two movies together and every day spent with him was a unique adventure. Milos loved life. I will miss his laughter. pic.twitter.com/1ER5ExUUHx
— Larry Karaszewski (@Karaszewski) April 14, 2018
Very sad to hear that the great director Miloš Forman has passed away. He had a tremendous filmography that documented the rebel heart and human spirit. I have seen ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ enough times to be able to silently mouth along with the movie. RIP. pic.twitter.com/4QwOHL7tS4
— edgarwright (@edgarwright) April 14, 2018
Just learned the sad new about #milosforman who’s movies are among some of my favorites of all time. A resume that produces both “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and “Amadeus” deserves to be up there alongside the greats. Good bye to an icon. And Bravo. pic.twitter.com/tnNHrEgw8H
— Josh Gad (@joshgad) April 14, 2018