Media Releases

The Oscar curse? Study says that Oscar win for Best Actress increases the risk of divorce

January 28, 2011

TORONTO, ON – Will Acad­e­my Award nom­i­nees Nicole Kid­man and Annette Ben­ing be at high­er risk for a divorce if they win the Oscar for best actress next month? A long line of best actress win­ners includ­ing Joan Craw­ford, Bette Davis, Halle Berry and Kate Winslet expe­ri­enced the end of their mar­riages not long after tak­ing home their awards. A study by researchers at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toronto’s Rot­man School of Man­age­ment and Carnegie Mel­lon Uni­ver­si­ty finds that Oscar win­ners in the Best Actress cat­e­go­ry are at a high­er risk of divorce than nom­i­nees who do not win. By con­trast, Best Actor win­ners do not expe­ri­ence an increase in the risk of divorce after an Oscar.

“Research has shown that, in the gen­er­al pop­u­la­tion, gen­der dif­fer­ences have his­tor­i­cal­ly giv­en roles with greater pow­er and sta­tus to men and roles with less­er sta­tus and pow­er to women. Stud­ies have demon­strat­ed that breach­ing this social norm with­in a marriage—for exam­ple, when a wife earns more than her husband—can strain the rela­tion­ship,” says Tiziana Cas­cia­ro, an assis­tant pro­fes­sor of orga­ni­za­tion­al behav­ior at the Rot­man School, who co-authored the study with Colleen Stu­art, a post-doc­tor­al fel­low at Carnegie Mel­lon Uni­ver­si­ty, and Sue Moon, a PhD stu­dent at the Rot­man School.

“It appears that even the mar­riages of Hol­ly­wood actress­es at the top of their careers are not immune to the con­se­quences of vio­lat­ing social norms that affect the wider pop­u­la­tion. Our results sug­gest that the sud­den suc­cess reduces the longevi­ty of their mar­riages,” says Stu­art.

The study looked at the 751 nom­i­nees in the best actor and actress cat­e­gories of the Acad­e­my Awards between1936 to 2010. The results show that Best Actress win­ners have a 63% chance of their mar­riages end­ing soon­er than the mar­riages of non-win­ners. The medi­an mar­riage dura­tion for Best Actress win­ners was 4.30 years, sub­stan­tial­ly low­er than the 9.51 year mar­riage dura­tion for non-win­ners. By con­trast, the dif­fer­ence between Best Actor non-win­ners (medi­an = 12.66 years) and Best Actor win­ners (medi­an = 11.97 years) was not sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant.

The com­plete study is avail­able at:

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Ken McGuf­fin
Man­ag­er, Media Rela­tions
Rot­man School of Man­age­ment
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to
Twit­ter: @rotmanschool