Curse of the Oscar

Even solid relationships do not seem to survive the apparent triumph of the Best Actress Academy Award. The winner gets a gong but loses her husband
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The Independent Culture

Sandra Bullock, 2010

It took exactly 10 days for Bullock to go from famous Oscar winner, to famously wronged wife. Her husband, Jesse James, who had whispered so tenderly in her ear when she was named this year's Best Actress for The Blind Side, and who shed a tear during her victory speech, found himself in Tiger Woods territory after a tattoo model called Michelle "Bombshell" McGee sold details of their affair to In Touch magazine, for $30,000, not forgetting to add detail only her gynaecologist would want to know. Yuk.

Kate Winslet, 2009

Our Kate took three years to outgrow her first husband, the director Jim Threapleton, moving swiftly on to the Oscar-winning replacement, Sam Mendes. They married in 2003, but succumbed to the seven-year itch last week. Some armchair psychologists claim the couple drifted apart during the making of Revolutionary Road last year. Others wondered if Mendes, who has been cruelly nicknamed "Mr Ego", ever came to terms with his leading lady winning Best Actress for her role in a rival director's flick, The Reader.

Reese Witherspoon, 2006

Life couldn't have been better for Reese Witherspoon at the start of 2006. Happily married to the actor Ryan Phillippe, with whom she shared two bonnie children, she romped to victory at the Oscars playing June Carter in the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line. Eight months later, life met art in tragic fashion: it emerged that Phillippe had, like Cash, been playing away from home while on tour. The other woman was Abbie Cornish, his Australian co-star on Stop-Loss.

Hilary Swank, 2005

Beware the Oscar-winning actress who forgets to thank her husband. In 2004, Swank did just that when she won in the supporting category for Boys Don't Cry. She corrected the error when winning top honours for Million Dollar Baby a year later. But their marriage lasted only another 10 months. Chad is Rob Lowe's brother, and reportedly had "issues" playing second fiddle to his wife as well as his sibling.

Charlize Theron, 2004

Every doting father tells his daughter to watch out for men who wear white dinner jackets. Theron's boyfriend Stuart Townsend was thus attired when he accompanied her to the 2004 Oscars. She picked up the Best Actress award for Monster, using part of her moment in the limelight to thank her man. Were wedding bells imminent, reporters asked? No, said Theron: she would not get hitched until gay people were also accorded the right to marry. Sadly, that didn't happen in time: they went their separate ways this year.

Halle Berry, 2002

The occasion clearly got to Halle Berry when she broke down in tears after becoming the first black woman to win Best Actress, for her role in Monster's Ball. What part of her acceptance speech does she regret the most? Probably the bit where she called hubby Eric Benét "the joy of my life". Within months, he'd been caught cheating on her and entered a sex addiction rehab clinic. But it didn't work: by 2003 they had separated, and 2005 brought divorce.

Julia Roberts, 2001

During the long, hard Oscar season campaign that saw him walk up endless red carpets with his starry girlfriend the American papers began nicknaming Benjamin Bratt "Mr Roberts". The Peruvian actor duly got thanked in her speech, and the world waited anxiously for news of an engagement. Sadly, not three months later, the woman who had played Erin Brockovich ended their four-year fling.

Gwyneth Paltrow, 1999

Waving an Oscar statue in one hand, and blubbing like a small child who'd dropped her choc ice, Gwynnie used her lengthy acceptance speech to confirm what the world already suspected: that she was dating her Shakespeare in Love co-star. But just two months after she publicly thanked "My friend, Ben Affleck", the relationship was history.

Helen Hunt, 1998

According to Helen Hunt's Oscar speech, her boyfriend Hank Azaria (the voice of Chief Wiggum in The Simpsons) was "the very best man I know". Shortly after she'd hit gold for As Good As It Gets, Hunt put her money where her mouth was, and cemented their five-year relationship by marrying him. It lasted a year.

Susan Sarandon, 1996

The fourth Best Actress to dispense with her man in the past year was Sarandon, who took top honours for Dead Man Walking. Tim Robbins, her long-term partner, had only a supporting actor gong. But he didn't let jealousy get the better of him and the relationship endured until last Christmas, when a representative announced their separation. She denied rumours that Sarandon, a ping-pong enthusiast, was now practising her topspin with Jonathan Bricklin, a fellow player more than 30 years her junior.