The so-called Oscar Curse that left Best Actress Academy Award winners like Halle Berry, Reese Witherspoon, and Sandra Bullock single not long after winning the most esteemed prize may be more common than you think, according to a new study.
Researchers at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and Pittsburgh Carnegie Mellon University say actresses who win Best Actress trophies are at a higher risk of divorce than nominees who do not win. To prove their point, the researchers point to a long line of Best Actress winners — including Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, and Kate Winslet — who have ended their marriages not long after taking home their awards.
“Research has shown that, in the general population, gender differences have historically given roles with greater power and status to men and roles with lesser status and power to women. Studies have demonstrated that breaching this social norm within a marriage-for example, when a wife earns more than her husband-can strain the relationship,” says Tiziana Casciaro, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at the Rotman School, who co-authored the study with Colleen Stuart, a post-doctoral fellow at Carnegie Mellon University, and Sue Moon, a PhD student at the Rotman School.
The study looked at the 751 nominees in the Best Actor and Actress categories of the Academy Awards between 1936 to 2010. The results show that Best Actress winners have a 63 percent chance of their marriages ending sooner than the marriages of non-winners.
“It appears that even the marriages of Hollywood actresses at the top of their careers are not immune to the consequences of violating social norms that affect the wider population. Our results suggest that the sudden success reduces the longevity of their marriages,” said Stuart.
Actors who win Best Actor awards, on the other hand, do not experience an increase in the risk of divorce after their Oscars.
The median marriage duration for Best Actress winners was 4.3 years. That’s substantially lower than the 9.5-year marriage duration for non-winners. Best Actor non-winners are wed for an average of 12.66 years, while Best Actor winners usually keep things together at home for 11.97 years. Not a huge statistical difference.
This year’s Best Actress nominees include engaged former child star Natalie Portman and Annette Bening, the longtime bride of former Hollywood playboy Warren Betty.