Who was Milos Forman? Oscar-winning director of Cuckoo's Nest dies

Bessie Dean
April 14, 2018

Forman, who was born Jan Tomas Forman in Czechoslovakia, died on Friday in the US after a short illness.

Forman was born in 1932 in Czechoslovakia. Both of Forman's parents died in Nazi concentration camps during World War II, and he wound up being raised by relatives before entering the Prague Film Academy.

Forman first attracted global attention with such features as Black Peter (1964), The Loves of a Blonde (1965) - an Oscar nominee for the best foreign-language film - and The Firemen's Ball(1967), which put him in hot water with the communist regime in Czechoslovakia.

Forman helmed the adaptation of Ken Kesey's novel "Cuckoo's Nest" and it went on to become a critically acclaimed film in 1975. Starring Jack Nicholson as an insurgent patient, it was a sensation at the Oscars, winning five major categories (picture, director, actor, actress and adapted screenplay).

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His career overseas started with "Taking Off" in 1971, followed by "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" four years later, which brought Forman his first Oscar for the best director.

Forman won Best Director again - while the movie won Best Picture and six additional awards - in 1984 for Amadeus, the brilliant and sumptiously mounted historical drama based on Peter Shaffer's play about the life of Mozart. The movie tells the life of 18th-century composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart through the eyes of his rival Antonio Salieri and delivered Forman his second Oscar.

His other notable work included the rock musical Hair in 1979, Ragtime in 1981 and The People vs Larry Flint in 1996, which was nominated for an Academy Award that year. At the time, Forman was in Paris, in negotiations for Taking Off, a US production about the youth protest movement.

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