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Oscar Best Actress winners at higher risk for divorce

Now that Oscar nominations have been announced, it is to be expected that people are talking about which movie will win for best picture, as well as who will win for best actor and best actress. But, one somewhat surprising question some are discussing is whether Academy Award nominees Nicole Kidman and Annette Bening may be at higher risk for divorce if either wins for best actress next month.

A study performed by researchers at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management and Carnegie Mellon University have discovered that actresses who win Oscars in the Best Actress category are at higher risk for divorce than nominees who do not win. Best Actress winners whose marriages ended shortly after the awards program include Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Halle Berry, Kate Winslet and more.

However, men who win in the Best Actor category do not appear at higher risk for divorce after a win. What can account for the difference between the genders? Researchers suggest that traditionally, men have been given roles with greater status and power. Women, on the other hand, have historically had less status and power. When this social norm within a marriage is violated, such as when a wife earns more than her husband, or a wife wins an Oscar for best actress, the marriage may become strained, and couples may turn to a divorce attorney.

So, it seems that even the most famous actresses at the height of their careers are not immune from the consequences of shaking up societal norms that affect the wider American population. Researchers came to this conclusion after examining the 751 nominees in the Best Actor and Best Actress categories from 1936 through 2010. They found that women who won have a 63 percent change of their marriages dissolving before the marriages of nominees who did not win. Specifically, the median duration of a marriage in which a woman won Best Actress was 4.30 years, much lower than the 9.51 duration for nominees who did not win.

What was the median marriage length for men who won Best Actor? Researchers found it to be 11.97 years, which is close to the 12.66 median duration for non-winners.

Source: Science Daily, "The Oscar Curse? Oscar Win for Best Actress Increases the Risk of Divorce, Study Suggests," 28 Jan. 2011

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William C. Gentry, Attorney at Law

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