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Be careful what you wish for: The Oscar Curse

For those of us who pay attention to movie stars, it was a surprise when Warren Beatty married Annette Benning in 1992. It may have been less of a surprise when Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise filed for divorce, but she elicited such sympathy that hundreds of people partied outside her hotel when she remarried in 2006. Both women are Best Actress nominees this year, and if Oscar has his way, if one of them wins, she'll soon be negotiating child support and custody, spousal maintenance and property division with her soon-to-be-ex-husband.

It's the Oscar Curse.

The strange fact is that many Best Actress winners end up divorced soon after their win. Benning or Kidman could be joining the likes of Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Halle Berry, Kate Winslet and Sandra Bullock. Researchers have found that taking home the statuette puts an actress at higher risk of divorce than their fellow nominees.

Best Actors' marriages are not affected by their wins. A recent study of the Oscar Curse found that the median marriage duration for Best Actors was 12.66 years, while their fellow-nominees' median was 11.97 years.

In contrast, the Best Actresses had a median marriage duration of 4.30 years, compared to the 9.51 year median for non-winners. It works out to a winner having a 63 percent chance of divorcing sooner than the non-winners.

The authors of the study suggest that sudden success is behind the lower longevity of winners' marriages. It could be, too, that these are women who have "breached the social norm" within the marriage relationships -- not necessarily sudden success, but more success than their husbands adds strain. It's the "A Star Is Born" syndrome. "Hello, everyone, this is Mrs. Norman Main."

It does make you wonder if it really is an honor just to be nominated.

Source: Science Daily, "The Oscar curse? Oscar win for best actress increases the risk of divorce, study suggests," 01/28/11

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