The Oscar Curse: Is It a Myth or Reality?

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There’s a strange Hollywood belief that winning a prestigious award such as an Oscar can actually destroy an actor’s career. Also known as the “Oscar curse”, it goes back to the 1930s, but until now, there has been no single evidence to support or debunk the popular belief. However, scientists now claim it is a sheer myth – winning the coveted statuette doesn’t ruin your career.

It ruins your personal life. Sounds crazy? Apparently, not so much, at least according to Michael Jensen, a strategy professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, who says that male Oscar winners face three times higher risk of divorce. Is this the true “Oscar curse”? The original “curse” originates from Luise Rainer – an actress, who won two Oscars for best performance in the 1930s. She reportedly blamed the prestigious awards for the steady decline of her career. But the Hollywood rumor also says that the curse has reached even stars today, including Catherine Zeta-Jones, Halle Berry, Adrien Brody, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Cuba Gooding Jr. They all seem to have seen their fame fading away after they won the golden statuette.

But Jensen and his team conclude that this curse is just a myth. They gathered data on 1,023 leading actors and actresses from 1930 to 2005 and created a statistical model on their professional and personal lives. The stars included in the research were only those who won or were nominated for either a leading or a supporting role. The results showed that in fact, film stars got more appearances after their Oscars. However, the researchers found a surprising pattern that shows that another Oscar curse is actually pretty much real.

The curse, however, isn’t a professional one; it’s personal. Male actors who won Oscars are in fact three times as likely as the rest of their colleagues to get a divorce during their first year of marriage. Nominees aren’t safe, either – they are twice as likely to get a divorce. And yes, that happens during their first year of marriage.

The only more bizarre thing than the curse itself is the fact that it affects only men. So, Eddie Redmayne, who won the best actor Oscar this year, should be careful. Bradley Cooper, Steve Carell, Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Keaton should probably pay attention, too.

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