THE OSCAR JINX STALKS HOLLYWOOD

1950 — Josephine Hull. The diminutive Broadway actress made a rare screen appearance as the jittery sister to James Stewart’s oddball eccentric in “Harvey.” Although she won the Best Supporting Actress Award, Hull would only make one other film (“The Lady from Texas” in 1951) and passed away in 1957.
1951 — Vivien Leigh. Winning her second Oscar for Best Actress as Blanche DuBois in “A Streetcar Named Desire,” Leigh found herself emotionally and physically weakened by the demands of the performance and by the problems of her personal life. On the set of her next film, “Elephant Walk,” she had a brief and disastrous affair with co-star Peter Finch and subsequently suffered a nervous breakdown that forced her to withdraw from the production. Due to her fragile health and her dislike of the medium, Leigh would only make three more films before her death in 1967, concentrating primarily on her stage work in London and New York.
1951 — Kim Hunter. Leigh’s co-star in “A Streetcar Named Desire” snagged the Best Supporting Actress honors for her role as Stella. But Hunter’s quirky looks did not suit the needs of the casting directors and she never seemed to rise above the second lead parts. A stint on the blacklist slowed her career and her subsequent work was generally unmemorable, although she did achieve an immortality of some sort beneath layers of latex make-up as the chimpanzee Zira in the “Planet of the Apes” series.
1952– Shirley Booth. Booth came to films in late middle-age to recreate her Broadway triumph from “Come Back, Little Sheba.” While earning a well-deserved Best Actress Oscar, Booth’s dumpy physical presence and somewhat abrasive on-screen persona limited her casting opportunities to meddlesome busybody roles in forgettable features like “About Mrs. Leslie” (1954) and “The Matchmaker” (1957). While unable to capitalize on her Oscar in films, she did find a niche as the zany housekeeper in the long-running TV sitcom “Hazel.”
1953 — Donna Reed. Long a symbol of wholesome goodness in films such as “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946) and “Green Dolphin Street” (1946), Reed took a gamble in switching film personas to play the jaded prostitute in “From Here to Eternity.” The risk paid off with a Best Supporting Actress statuette, but the studios were unwilling to try her in roles that would test her versatility. Unhappy with the quality of scripts she was receiving, Reed retreated to television and put back the sweet demeanor as the star of her long-running sitcom bearing her name.
1958 — Susan Hayward. The red-headed star’s chase of the Oscar was so long and blatant that Jerry Lewis, while hosting the Oscar telecast, brought Hayward back on-stage for an encore of audience applause to congratulate her triumph in “I Want to Live.” Sadly, it was her last genuine triumph, as subsequent roles in films such as “Back Street” (1961), “I Thank a Fool” (1963) and “Valley of the Dolls” (1967) were embarrassing failures. By the 1970s, Hayward’s career was reduced to occasional TV movies, and the late discovery of terminal cancer robbed her of any possible comeback.
1958 — Burl Ives. Although best known as the warped patriarch Big Daddy in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” Ives actually won his Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in the Western epic “The Big Country.” But the burly folk singer never found another film worthy of his talents. Severe miscasting as the German exile in “Our Man in Havana” (1959) and ill-chosen appearances in the lame fantasies “The Brass Bottle” (1964) and “Rocket to the Moon” (1967) ensured his film work was limited; strangely, he never was cast in a musical film.
The curse continues in part five of THE OSCAR JINX STALKS HOLLYWOOD>>>




Posted on March 20, 2003 in Features by
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