Louisa Moritz, an actress who appeared in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and brought a good-natured joy to a stereotypical blonde bombshell persona in early ’70s fare like Love, American Style and Match Game but in more recent years joined other women in accusing Bill Cosby of sexual assault, has died from a longstanding heart ailment, her longtime friend and publicist Edward Lozzi announced.
Moritz was 72 and died at her home last week in Los Angeles of natural causes.
In Cuckoo’s Nest, Moritz played Rose, a small but pivotal performance in which her good-time pal of Jack Nicholson’s R.P. McMurphy sneaks into the mental hospital for the against-the-rules party that leads to tragedy. In one memorable moment, she slow-dances sweetly with Danny Devito’s childlike Martini, his head resting upon her breast.
Moritz had already become a recognizable, if not quite name-famous, presence on many commercials and episodic TV appearances including programs such as Love, American Style anthology comedy series (a 1971 segment co-starred Charles Nelson Reilly) when she was booked on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. As she’d allege in 2014, Cosby assaulted her in the Tonight Show dressing room, forcing her to perform oral sex on him. Moritz was one of the first of seven women to accuse and sue Cosby. (Cosby has denied all charges of non-consensual sex).
Joseph Cammarata, the Washington D.C. lead attorney in the defamation lawsuit against Cosby, released the following statement today:
Louisa Moritz was a brave woman who stood up against a powerful Hollywood icon, Bill Cosby, in an effort to restore her good name and reputation, after he publicly branded her a liar when she made public her allegations of sexual abuse and assault by Mr. Cosby. Ms. Moritz was one of seven women who sued Bill Cosby for defamation. Despite her death, her claim against Mr. Cosby will continue in a Federal court in Massachusetts. We look forward to a resolution of the case that will establish that Louisa was a truth teller, so that her legacy will live forever untarnished.
Moritz’s other film credits include her 1970 debut as a young prostitute in The Man from O.R.G.Y., 1975’s Death Race 2000 with Sylvester Stallone, 1978’s Cheech and Chong hit Up in Smoke, 1982’s The Last American Virgin and as the kleptomaniac Bubbles in 1983’s classic-of-its-kind Chained Heat.
In addition to the previously mentioned programs, TV credits include appearances on ’60s-’70s series including The Leslie Uggams Show, The Joe Namath Show, Ironside, Happy Days, M*A*S*H, Chico and the Man, The Rockford Files, The Incredible Hulk and The Associates.
According to Lozzi, Moritz was writing two books at the time of her death, including one about Cuban cook and another about “how to get out of traffic tickets.” She also produced TV self help shows about self defense.
Moritz was born Louisa Castro on September 25, 1946 in Havana, Cuba. She moved to New York City in the 1950s. Lozzi said Moritz was inspired to change her last name from Castro after seeing the St. Moritz Hotel in New York City. In addition to acting, she later sold real estate, went to law school and became a lawyer and bought a Beverly Hills hotel she renamed the Beverly Hills St. Moritz.
“Although often cast as the generic dumb blonde in many films and TV shows (a part which she has always played with great spirit and infectiously sweet good humor),” said Lozzi, who knew Moritz for 38 years, the actress “in real life is the total radical opposite of this particular persona: She not only made the Deans List while studying for her law degree at the University of West Los Angeles, but also won the American Jurisprudence Bancroft Whitney Prize for Contracts as well.“
Added Lozzi, “Louisa Moritz was so full of life, talent, and she was a genius with a 6th sense for making money. Her parties in Mt. Olympus in the 1980’s were wild and most popular with actors, producers, models, make up artists, set directors, stuntmen…all of the categories. Her support of the Motion Picture Home and animal rights groups was heavy. Her hundreds of TV and film roles will keep her memory alive with her fans forever. Her support of other women who accused Bill Cosby of rape will keep her with us for years to come.”
Funeral arrangements and memorial are pending.