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.
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.)