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Scientist Obituary: Dr. Dean Brooks, Real Life “Cuckoo’s Nest” Doctor

Remember Dr. Spivey, the director of the mental hospital in the classic, Oscar-winning One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest? That was no actor. That was Dr. Dean Brooks, the real life superintendent of Oregon State Hospital in Salem, who passed away on May 30th, 2013 at the age of 96.

Dr. Brooks was the only superintendent of a psychiatric hospital that would open its doors for the film’s director, Milos Forman. He even let Mr. Forman and one of the film’s screenwriters live in his hospital for weeks to gain an understanding of life in a mental institution.

>Dr. Dean Brooks shoots a scene with “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” star Jack Nicholson.

Dr. Brooks is remembered as an innovator with an unusual approach, who let his patients wear their own clothes rather than hospital uniforms and took them on therapeutic trips into the wilderness.

Read more about Dr. Dean Brooks in his New York Times obituary.

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Seandor Szeles

    Seandor Szeles is the co-editor of the Secret Life Blog. He is most interested in the human side of science and providing take-away for educators.