An Academy Award for Best Actress might seem like a blessing, but the women who win might think it’s more of a curse.
Why? Because most of them find themselves sitting in divorce courts after their affairs with Oscar.
One study from researchers at the University of Toronto looked at every Best Actress and Best Actor nominee from 1936 to 2010. A whopping 60 percent divorced at least once after earning the nomination. (I guess it's really NOT an honor just to be nominated.)
Sadly, the marriages of Best Actress winners were the least likely to last. Of the leading ladies, winners were more than one and a half times more likely to divorce than non-winners—a difference that didn’t hold true for leading men.
“Winning an Oscar would shift the status balance in favor of the woman,” says lead author Colleen Stuart, Ph.D. “That can be a source of relationship strain, especially because it violates the cultural norm that women are subordinate to their husbands.”
We’d like to think that’s changing, but many successful women (famous or not) still find their relationships crumbling as they climb the proverbial ladder.
If that sounds familiar, these three tips can be your counter-curse:
Complement him. “People always told me to look for someone who matched my ambition, education and professional status,” says Marcia Reynolds, PsyD, author of Wander Woman: How High Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction. “I finally realized that someone who wanted to be as successful as I was would be trouble.”
Instead of hitching your star to another overachiever, Reynolds suggests looking for someone who complements you. If you’ve got the world domination role covered, look for someone who doesn't consider the less flashy role to be the backseat.
Find balance. “Emotionally, you need to keep balance in the relationship,” says Reynolds. “You need to allow the man to feel important.” That’s not to say that you should be subservient (the happy-to-keep-his-dinner-warm housewife is so last century). It means, ask him about his day, listen to him. “Never diminish it like it was less important,” warns Reynolds. After all, would you want him to do that to you?
Show him some R-E-S-P-E-C-T. That’s right, give him a little respect when you get home. “If the woman starts to feel that she’s better than her husband, that’s death for the relationship,” says Reynolds. “You can’t be looking at what your partner doesn’t have. You have to constantly look at what he brings to the relationship and honor that. It might be qualities like patience, kindness, social intelligence or generosity. Everybody is contributing something.”
See these famous women who have succumbed to the Oscar curse:
Your suspicion is true: There really is an Oscar curse. Best Actress nominees have a sky-high 60 percent divorce rate and the winners are more than one and a half times more likely to divorce than the leading ladies they’re up against. This reel of Best Actress winners wound up single after shacking up with Oscar.
Katharine Hepburn, “Morning Glory” (1933)
Named the most iconic leading lady of all time, Katharine Hepburn’s 60-year career and record-breaking four Best Actress Oscars made her more successful than most of the men in her life. Her only marriage ended the year she won her first Oscar and she settled instead for a 26-year affair with married actor Spencer Tracy. She described it as “absolute bliss,” though she was always the other woman.
Ginger Rogers, “Kitty Foyle” (1940)
Screen legend Ginger Rogers, best known as Fred Astaire’s love interest in some of the most iconic Hollywood musicals, made a lot of movies—and divorced a lot of men (five, to be exact). She and her second husband, actor Lew Ayres, split the same year she won Best Actress for her title role in “Kitty Foyle.”
Ingrid Bergman, “Anastasia” (1957)
Best known as Humphrey Bogart’s gorgeous love interest in “Casablanca,” Ingrid Bergman won three Oscars, two Emmys, one Tony and a lot of hearts in her career. Her three marriages left a trail of heartbreak and her second—to Italian director Roberto Rossellini—ended the same year that she won the Oscar for her leading role in “Anastasia.
Jane Fonda, “Klute” (1971)
Better known now for her workouts than her acting chops, Jane Fonda took home the Oscar for her role as a call girl helping to solve a missing person’s case in “Klute.” The next year, her marriage to French director Roger Vadim ended in divorce. She went on to become a household name—and rack up two more divorces.
Julia Roberts, “Erin Brockovich” (2000)
Julia Roberts, still Hollywood’s favorite pretty woman, took home the gold for her title role in “Erin Brockovich.” Three months later, her three-year relationship with “Law & Order” star Benjamin Bratt officially fizzled out. (Of course, Roberts met her current husband while she was still with Bratt, so who knows if some other sparks weren’t already flying.)
Halle Berry, “Monster’s Ball” (2001)
Halle Berry was a rising star when she became the first African American to win the Best Actress Oscar. Married to Eric Benet at the time, the bombshell couple split the following year.
Hilary Swank, “Million Dollar Baby” (2004)
When Hilary Swank won the Oscar for “Boys Don’t Cry,” she hugged her husband, kissed him—and then totally forgot to thank him (she even read off a written list!). They survived that mishap and she thanked him first the next time (saying, “I like to think I’ve learned from past mistakes”), but a year later, the two called it quits on their 10-year marriage. Rumor had it he couldn’t handle her success.
Reese Witherspoon, “Walk the Line” (2005)
Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Philippe seemed like a match made in Hollywood heaven until they shocked everyone by splitting a scant eight months after she took home the Best Actress Oscar for her role as June Carter in “Walk the Line.” With Ryan fading into oblivion (have you seen him since “Cruel Intentions?”) and Reese skyrocketing to stardom, her success may have pushed him over the line. They called it quits amid rumors that Ryan was cheating.
Kate Winslet, “The Reader” (2008)
When Kate Winslet won a long-overdue Best Actress award for her role in “The Reader,” she and Sam Mendes (an acclaimed director and Academy Award winner himself) seemed like one of those quiet, strong couples that would stay above the fray. Alas, they too fell prey to the Oscar curse, splitting a year after Kate finally took home the top prize.
Sandra Bullock, “The Blind Side” (2009)
When Sandra Bullock should have been making headlines for her Oscar-winning role in “The Blind Side,” her divorce took top billing instead. A scant 10 days after her win, Sandra moved out amid a flurry of rumors that her husband, Jesse James, had cheated.
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