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Sad news arrived late last night with word that Oscar-winning director Milos Forman, the man behind the Best Picture winners One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Amadeus, had passed away at age 86.

It would take some time for Forman to find his footing in Hollywood.

Forman first attracted worldwide attention with such features as Black Peter (1964), The Loves of a Blonde (1965) - an Oscar nominee for best foreign-language film - and The Firemen's Ball (1967), which put him in hot water with the communist regime in Czechoslovakia.

Valmont, Forman's 1989 adaptation of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, proved something of an anticlimax as another version, directed by Stephen Frears and containing a star-making performance from John Malkovich, had been released the previous year.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, the 1975 film starring Jack Nicholson, and Amadeus both triumphed at the Oscars.

He moved to the US following his native country's "Prague Spring" uprising against the Communist regime in 1968; he became a USA citizen in the 1970s.

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"That is the only way to open the film to a certain kind of lightness", he said.

Former collaborator writer and producer Larry Karaszewski, who worked on Man On The Moon and The People vs Larry Flynt, said Forman was our friend and our teacher.

This left Forman to be raised by foster parents who sent him to film school in Prague.

But his biggest success was still yet to come; in 1984, Forman released "Amadeus", a historical film adapted from a stage-play of the same name by Peter Shafferabout Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his rivalry with fellow composer Antonio Salieri. Nominated for 53 awards, the film received eight Academy Awards (including Best Picture), four BAFTA Awards, four Golden Globes, and a Directors Guild of America award. Forman established his talent with a title at the 1958 Brussels World Exhibition, but made his feature debut in 1963 with Black Peter, which won the top prize at the Locarno Film Festival.

Forman, who had travelled to the United States after Communist film authorities rejected his ideas, was also known for The People vs Larry Flynt (1996) and Man on the Moon (1999).

He married Martina Zborilova, his third wife, in 1999.