Real-Life Cuckoo's Nest Doctor Dead at 96

Dean Brooks had role in film, was regarded as psychiatric reformer
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 1, 2013 10:31 AM CDT
Real-Life Cuckoo’s Nest Doctor Dead at 96
Dean Brooks, as Dr. Spivey, in a scene from 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.'   (YouTube/United Artists)

(Newser) – Dean Brooks ran Oregon's state psychiatric hospital for nearly three decades and gained a reputation as a patients' advocate and an innovator in how they were treated. That's why his obituary—he died Thursday at age 96—is in Oregon's Statesman Journal. But the reason he has a lengthy writeup in the New York Times as well has more to do with his role in the Jack Nicholson classic One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

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Brooks allowed the 1975 movie to be shot at Oregon State Hospital and served as a technical adviser. He so impressed the crew that he got a speaking role as the fictional hospital's Dr. Spivey. The Times notes an interesting twist: Brooks came off stilted when he read lines, so the filmmakers decided to let him and Nicholson ad-lib their scenes together, including Nicholson's intake interview. They did the latter in just two takes. (Read more One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest stories.)

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