THE OSCAR JINX STALKS HOLLYWOOD

1961 — George Chakiris. The dancer-turned-actor was an electrifying presence as the doomed gang leader Bernardo in “West Side Story” and Chakiris seemed fast-tracked for stardom thanks to his Best Supporting Actor Oscar. But a steady succession of disastrous films including “Kings of the Sun” (1963), “Flight from Ashiya” (1964) and “The Big Cube” (1969) fast-tracked his career into virtual obscurity.
1961 — Rita Moreno. As Maria in “West Side Story,” Moreno earned the Best Supporting Actress Oscar and also seemed ready to go on for bigger and better parts. But instead she was showered with scripts that envisioned her playing horrible Latina stereotypes. Rather than demean herself, she stayed off-screen until 1969′s “Night of the Following Day,” and even then her later film work was occasional. Moreno instead concentrated on TV and theater ventures and later won the Emmy, Tony and Grammy Awards–making her the only person to sweep all four major entertainment accolades.
1962 — Ed Begley. The veteran performer capped his long career at age 61 as the malevolent town elder in “Sweet Bird of Youth,” which was a surprise winner for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. But roles for the colorful and versatile actor were fewer and far between, and after a handful of forgettable films he passed away in 1970.
1962 — Patty Duke. The gifted 16-year-old’s performance as Helen Keller was an electrifying tour-de-force and earned her the Best Supporting Actress honors (making her, at the time, the youngest star to win the Academy Award). But truth be told, Duke’s off-beat looks did not make her an easy fit in films. Although her TV sitcom “The Patty Duke Show” was popular, Duke’s attempts to secure big screen stardom resulted in some major bombs, including the horrible musical “Billie” (1965) and the infamous “Valley of the Dolls” (1967). By the 1970s, Duke’s career was confined to TV movies and game show appearances.
1963 — Patricia Neal. Winning the Best Actress Oscar for “Hud” was a highlight of Neal’s life, but two years later a severe stroke brought her to the brink of death. In fact, one news wire report erroneously announced her demise. Neal’s struggle to return to health was a triumph of her courage and spirit, and by 1968 she was well enough to return to her career with a moving performance in “The Subject Was Roses,” which earned her another Oscar nomination. But limitations on her health kept her later film appearances to be few and far between.
1964 — Lila Kedrova. The French stage actress was a last-minute substitute in the role of the dying courtesan in “Zorba the Greek,” and her eccentric screen presence captivated Academy voters to give her the Best Supporting Actress Award. But the star’s diminutive presence and strangely thick accent did not bode well for a Hollywood career and her later film work was concentrated in small roles in less-than-memorable European productions.
1966 — Elizabeth Taylor. Eschewing glamour for the transformation into a terrifying academic shrew, Taylor’s Martha in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” brought her a second Best Actress Oscar and, strangely enough, her last decent film performance. Taylor’s post-Oscar filmography contains some of the most disastrous debacles ever captured on film, ranging from the unintentionally hilarious “Boom!” (1968) to her off-key singing in “A Little Night Music” (1977). While Taylor’s superstar demeanor and extraordinary philanthropic work has kept her in the public eye, the Oscar Jinx helped to keep her in films far undeserving of her beauty and talent.
1967 — Estelle Parsons. Parsons burst on the film scene as the hysteria-prone member of the bank robbing gang in “Bonnie and Clyde” and won the Best Supporting Actress honors. She quickly followed this success with fine performances in major films including “Rachel, Rachel” (1968), “I Never Sang for My Father” (1969) and “Don’t Drink the Water” (1969), but then abruptly left films and returned to theatrical work. Later appearances in “For Pete’s Sake” (1974) and “The Lemon Sisters” (1989) were far below her considerable talents.
1968 — Jack Albertson. A long career in acting, beginning on the burlesque stage, culminated in the disturbing performance as the mean-spirited husband in “The Subject Was Roses.” Albertson won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, but despite getting small roles in the cult favorites “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” (1971) and “The Poseidon Adventure” (1972), the actor found few parts in films (and he actually groused about this situation to the media). A starring role finally came in 1974 with the TV comedy “Chico and the Man,” which teamed the old-timer with the up-and-coming comic Freddie Prinze.
1969 — Gig Young. After a successful career in light comedy, Young made a spectacular turnaround to create the vicious emcee in “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” The Best Supporting Actor Award went to Young, but with the exception of his next film (the comedy “Lovers and Other Strangers,” 1970), his films became increasingly inferior. By the mid-1970s, Young’s work was restricted to occasional TV movies and a failed TV series called “Gibbsville.” In 1978, Young killed his wife and then took his own life.
The curse continues in part six of THE OSCAR JINX STALKS HOLLYWOOD>>>




Posted on March 20, 2003 in Features by
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