Home / Industry / Media /  The ‘Oscar curse’ is just a myth, finds study

New York: Researchers have debunked the myth of the ‘Oscar curse’—a belief in Hollywood that winning the prestigious award can actually destroy an actor or actress’s career.

The ‘Oscar curse’ is said to have originated with Luise Rainer, a popular film star who won two Oscars for best actress in the 1930s and then fell off the map. Rainer allegedly blamed the prestigious awards for the steady decline of her career in the decades that followed.

Since Rainer’s time, many other stars—from Halle Berry and Catherine Zeta-Jones to Gwyneth Paltrow, Adrien Brody and Cuba Gooding Jr—have also seen their stars fall at least a bit after they took home a golden statue.

However, Michael Jensen, a strategy professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and the study’s lead author said “Oscar curse" is really just a “Hollywood myth." The researchers came to this conclusion after creating a statistical model representing the professional and personal lives of 1,023 leading actors and actresses from 1930 (the year of the second annual Academy Awards ceremony) through 2005.

The researchers looked at those who won or were nominated for either a leading or a supporting role. They found that Oscar winners and nominees actually appear in more films following their Oscar wins than do other actors. The winners also appeared in more “high-quality" films—films that receive prestigious awards or premiere at major film festivals—than do other actors. “The real Oscar curse is not a professional curse, it’s a personal curse. Moving up and suddenly becoming a big shot increases the likelihood of getting a divorce," Jensen told ‘LiveScience’.

The study found that male Oscar winners are three times as likely as other actors to get a divorce during their first year of marriage. Researchers also found that male actors nominated for an Academy Award are twice as likely as non-nominated actors to get a divorce from their spouses within the first year of marriage. However, this personal-life curse seems to affect only male Oscar winners and nominees, not their female counterparts, researchers said. The study was published in the journal Organization Science.

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