Report: The "Oscar Curse" Among Female Winners Isn't a Fantasy

A new study shows that winning a best actress Academy Award does increase the likelihood of divorce

Winning a best actress Academy Award can make a star's career, opening up heretofore padlocked doors, beefing up her asking price and giving her greater creative control in future films. But did you know that snagging that little bald guy named Oscar can also spell doom for the winner's love life?

For years, that is what the so-called "Oscar curse" has held -- that women who win the Academy Award for best actress are destined to divorce their husbands. Most recently, it's happened to Halle Berry after her 2003 win for Monster's Ball, Hilary Swank after her 2005 triumph for Million Dollar Baby, Reese Witherspoon after her 2006 victory for Walk the Line, Kate Winslet after prevailing for The Reader in 2009 and Sandra Bullock after her 2010 statue-cinching turn in The Blind Side. And now, there's data to prove that the curse is more than just coincidence.

According to The Huffington Post, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Toronto shows that between 1936 (the first modern Academy Awards) and 2010, best actress Oscar winners have been 1.68 times more likely to get divorced than the nominees they beat. What's more, of the 265 married nominees during that time period, 159 were eventually divorced. That's a staggering 60 percent!

The Oscar curse, however, does not hold true for men. The study found no significant difference in the divorce rate between those who won best actor and those who were nominated.

So what causes this Oscar curse, and why does it affect only women? The predominant reason, the study posits, is a shift in perceptions within the relationship. Winning a best actress Academy Award provides a big jump in professional and potentially economic status for the woman, causing the husband or the wife (or both) to feel uncomfortable with the relationship's new dynamic.

"It can be that the husband feels inferior and doesn't accept the lower status," University of Toronto researcher Tiziana Casciaro tells The Huffington Post. "(So the divorce could happen because) the woman outgrows the relationship. Or it was (an) unhappy (marriage) to begin with and with the sudden increase in status feels like she can move on."

With this in mind, it should be interesting to see who wins this year's best actress prize -- and what happens to her love life after that. Only two of the Oscar nominees, Nicole Kidman and Annette Bening, are married (to Keith Urban and Warren Beatty, respectively). And perhaps luckily for them, it's looking likely that Natalie Portman will nab the victory for her performance in Black Swan. As far as we know, there's no Oscar curse that applies to women who are engaged to (and pregnant with the children of) French dance choreographers, so -- fingers crossed -- Natalie should be in the clear.

For more on the "Oscar Curse," watch this week's iVillage 5 video below.

 

Why do you think so many best actress Oscar winners end up getting divorced? Chime in below!

 

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