Study seeks to determine validity of so-called ‘Oscar Curse’

A recent study by researchers at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management set out to find an answer to a question that has increasingly become a subject of great debate both on the internet and over the airwaves: Are actresses who win an Academy Award for Best Actress subject to an “Oscar Curse,” meaning are they more likely to divorce?

(While the question may seem somewhat trivial on first glance, consider that five out of the last nine winners of the Academy Award for Best Actress have divorced their spouses. This includes Halle Berry (2001), Hilary Swank (2004), Reese Witherspoon (2005), Kate Winslet (2008) and, most recently, Sandra Bullock (2009).)

Specifically, these researchers set out to examine if there was any “theoretical merit to, and empirical evidence for, the Oscar Curse” and “why might these much-admired women have greater difficulty in sustaining their marriages than their male counterparts?”

In order to find a definitive answer to these questions, the researchers studied the marital records/histories of 751 movie stars nominated for either Best Actress or Best Actor awards from 1936 to 2010.

The results?

There may actually be some truth to the Oscar Curse after all.

Researchers determined that the marriages of Academy Award winners for Best Actress lasted an average of 4.3 years. However, the marriages of nominees in this same category lasted an average of 9.5 years.

Furthermore, the marriages of Academy Award winners for Best Actor and nominees in this same category lasted roughly 12 years.

“Oscar wins are associated with a greater risk of divorce for Best Actresses, but not for Best Actors,” wrote the researchers.

Why is the divorce rate so much higher for Best Actresses?

The researchers point to either 1) the husband becoming threatened by his wife’s newfound wealth, success and status; or 2) the wife growing “dissatisfied with her current marital arrangement either because she has outgrown the relationship or because she now has the confidence and opportunity to move away from a bad marriage.”

To learn more about dissolution of marriage or property division, contact an experienced and skilled legal professional.

This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Related Resources:

Best actress Oscar winners are more likely to divorce than Best Actor winners (The Washington Post)