Hollyweird: Curse of the Oscars

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The Independent Culture

Kate Winslet should perhaps curb her excitement for a moment to take note of the Oscars curse. An Oscar win may be the pinnacle of a career, but winners such as F Murray Abraham, Brenda Fricker, Linda Hunt, Marlee Matlin and Louise Fletcher are hardly household names today.

Winslet may feel immune, but she wouldn't be the first actress to suffer the career-crushing curse. Luise Rainer, back-to-back Best Actress winner, in 1936 for The Great Ziegfeld and next year for The Good Earth, said later: "Nothing worse could have happened to me." By 1941, she'd left the film industry, saying of her Oscar-winning movies: "All I can see is the pain in my eyes."

Joan Fontaine said the only thing to come out of winning in 1941 for Suspicion, in which she played a wife who believes her husband is trying to kill her, was being typecast.

Maximilian Schell's career nosedived after he won Best Actor for Judgement at Nuremberg in 1961. "I had to restart," he said. "I had to go down in order to scale the mountain again." And who remembers George Chakiris, Best Supporting Actor for West Side Story that year?

Personal tragedy has struck. After his Best Actor win for the 1977 film The Goodbye Girl, Richard Dreyfuss went into a spin of drug addiction and box-office flops. In his case, the curse relented; 18 years later he was nominated again for Mr Holland's Opus.

No such luck for Gig Young, Best Supporting Actor in 1969 in Sydney Pollack's They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, who appeared in only four more films, all minor roles. He killed himself in 1978.

Yet there isn't a star who wouldn't risk the curse for one trip to the Kodak Theatre stage.