LOS ANGELES (CBSLA/AP) — Czech filmmaker Milos Forman, whose American movies “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Amadeus” won a deluge of Academy Awards, including best director Oscars, died Saturday. He was 86.

Forman died about 2 a.m. Saturday at Danbury Hospital, near his home in Warren, Connecticut, according to a statement released by the former director’s agent, Dennis Aspland. Aspland said Forman’s wife, Martina, notified him of the death.

Martina told the Czech news agency CTK that he died after a brief illness, Deadline.com reported.

Along with “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Amadeus,” Forman also directed 1989’s “Valmont,” 1996’s “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” 1999’s “Man on the Moon,” and 2006’s “Goya’s Ghosts.”

“Milos was truly one of ours,” Directors Guild of America President Thomas Schlamme said. “A filmmaker, artist, and champion of artists’ rights. His contribution to the craft of directing has been an undeniable source of inspiration for generations of filmmakers. His directorial vision deftly brought together provocative subject matter, stellar performances and haunting images to tell the stories of the universal struggle for free expression and self-determination that informed so much of his work and his life.

“A member of the DGA’s National Board and a recipient of the DGA’s highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award, Milos actively championed artist’s rights throughout his career, speaking multiple times before Congress and world audiences about the importance of creative rights and artists’ protections against the violation of those rights. He stood up on behalf of his beloved fellow filmmakers time and again, and he believed with all his heart that creativity and artistic freedom could make a difference in the world. Now it’s up to us to prove him right. We will miss him.”

“Another great one passes through the doorway,” tweeted Jim Carrey, “Man on the Moon” star. “I’m glad we got to play together. It was a monumental experience.”

“Milos Forman was our friend and our teacher,” tweeted Larry Karaszewski, who co-wrote “The People vs. Larry Flynt” and “Man on the Moon.”

“He was a master filmmaker – no one better at capturing small unrepeatable moments of human behavior. We made two movies together and every day spent with him was a unique adventure. Milos loved life. I will miss his laughter.”

“Milos Forman has left us,” actor Antonio Banderas tweeted. “Genius of cinematography and master in the portrayal of the human condition. RIP.”

Added “Baby Driver” director Edgar Wright, also on Twitter: “Very sad to hear that the great director Milos Forman has passed away. He had a tremendous filmography that documented the rebel heart and human spirit. I have seen ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ enough times to be able to silently mouth along with the movie. RIP.”

When Forman arrived in Hollywood in the late 1960s, he was lacking in both money and English skills, but carried a portfolio of Czechoslovakian films much admired internationally for their quirky, lighthearted spirit. Among them were “Black Peter,” ”Loves of a Blonde” and “The Fireman’s Ball.”

The orphan of Nazi Holocaust victims, Forman had abandoned his homeland after communist troops invaded in 1968 and crushed a brief period of political and artistic freedom known as the Prague Spring.

In America, his record as a Czech filmmaker was enough to gain him entree to Hollywood’s studios, but his early suggestions for film projects were quickly rejected. Among them were an adaptation of Franz Kafka’s novel “Amerika” and a comedy starring entertainer Jimmy Durante as a wealthy bear hunter in Czechoslovakia.

After his first U.S. film, 1971’s “Taking Off,” flopped, Forman didn’t get a chance to direct a major feature again for years. He occupied himself during part of that time by covering the decathlon at the 1972 Olympics for the documentary “Visions of Eight.”

“Taking Off,” an amusing look at generational differences in a changing America, had won praise from critics who compared it favorably to Forman’s Czech films. But without any big-name stars it quickly tanked at the box office.

Actor Michael Douglas gave Forman a second chance, hiring him to direct “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest,” which Douglas was co-producing.

The 1975 film, based on Ken Kesey’s novel about a misfit who leads mental institution inmates in a revolt against authority, captured every major Oscar at that year’s Academy Awards, the first film to do so since 1934″s “It Happened One Night.”

The winners included Jack Nicholson as lead actor, Louise Fletcher as lead actress, screenwriters Bo Goldman and Lawrence Hauben, Forman as director and the film itself for best picture.

The director, who worked meticulously, spending months with screenwriters and overseeing every aspect of production, didn’t release another film until 1979’s “Hair.”

The musical, about rebellious 1960s-era American youth, appealed to a director who had witnessed his own share of youthful rebellion against communist repression in Czechoslovakia. But by the time it came out, America’s brief period of student revolt had long since faded, and the public wasn’t interested.

“Ragtime” followed in 1981. The adaptation of E.L. Doctorow’s novel, notable for Forman’s ability to persuade his aging Connecticut neighbor Jimmy Cagney to end 20 years of retirement and play the corrupt police commissioner, also was a disappointment.

Forman returned to top form three years later, however, when he released “Amadeus.”

Based on Peter Shaffer’s play, it portrayed 18th century musical genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as a foul-mouthed man-child, with lesser composer Salieri as his shadowy nemesis. It captured seven Academy Awards, including best picture, best director and best actor (for F. Murray Abraham as Salieri).

Hunting for locations, Forman realized Prague was the only European capital that had changed little since Mozart’s time, but returning there initially filled him with dread.

His parents had died in a Nazi concentration camp when he was 9. He had been in Paris when the communists crushed the Prague Spring movement in 1968, and he hadn’t bothered to return home, becoming a U.S. citizen in 1975.

The Czech government, realizing the money to be made by letting “Amadeus” be filmed in Prague, allowed Forman to come home, and the public hailed his return.

“There was an enormous affection for us doing the film,” he remarked in 2002. “The people considered it a victory for me that the authorities had to bow to the almighty dollar and let the traitor back.”

Never prolific, Forman’s output slowed even more after “Amadeus,” and his three subsequent films were disappointments.

“Valmont” (1989) reached audiences a year after “Dangerous Liaisons,” both based on the same French novel.

“The People vs. Larry Flynt” (1996) starred Woody Harrelson as the Hustler publisher. It garnered Oscar nominations for the actor and Forman’s direction.

“Man on the Moon,” based on the life of cult hero Andy Kaufman, did win its star, Carrey, a Golden Globe. But it also failed to fully convey Kaufman’s pioneering style of offbeat comedy or the reasons for his disdaining success at every turn.

Larry Karaszewski, who co-wrote “Man on the Moon” and “The People vs Larry Flynt” with Scott Alexander, called Forman “our friend and our teacher” on Twitter. “He was a master filmmaker – no one better at capturing small unrepeatable moments of human behavior.”

Jan Tomas Forman, born in Caslav, Czechoslovakia, was raised by relatives after his parents’ deaths and attended arts school in Prague.

The director’s first marriage, to actress Jana Brejchova ended in divorce. He left his second wife, singer Vera Kresadlova, behind with the couple’s twin sons when he left Czechoslovakia. He married Martina Zborilova in 1999. They also had twin sons.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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