1983 — Shirley MacLaine. Having chased the Oscar since the 1950s, MacLaine finally caught it when her “Terms of Endearment” role brought home the Best Actress tribute. But by this time in her career, MacLaine’s loopy personality and her over-publicized embrace of New Age notions made her something of a joke and her post-Oscar roles were stuck playing larger-than-life matrons in smaller-than-life films such as “Madame Sousatzka” (1988) and “Postcards from the Edge” (1990).

1983 — Linda Hunt. The tiny actress scored an off-beat success as the Eurasian male dwarf in “The Year of Living Dangerously,” which brought her the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. But it seemed no one quite knew where to place Hunt in films and her ensuing movies involved brief parts in considerable fiascos including “Dune” (1985) and “She-Devil” (1989).

1984 — F. Murray Abraham. Milos Forman’s decision to cast the unknown Abraham as Salieri in his big-budget Amadeus was a daring risk, but Abraham’s richly layered performance was a tour-de-force that brought the Best Actor Oscar and fame. It did not, however, bring another good film role. Abraham’s tendency to overact served to make films such as “The Name of the Rose” (1986), “Bonfire of the Vanities” (1990) and Star Trek: The Insurrection (1998) treats for masochists.

1984 — Haing S. Ngor. The Cambodian physician survived torture and imprisonment and escaped the carnage of his war-torn country, but was unable to restart his medical practice after settling in America. An extraordinary opportunity to star as the photographer Dith Pran in the film version of “The Killing Fields” launched Ngor on a new career in acting and earned him the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. But Ngor was unable to find roles outside of one-dimensional stereotypes and his later work only served to reinforce unflattering depictions of Asians. Ngor was murdered outside of his Los Angeles home in 1996, and his killer was never found.

1985 — William Hurt. Once dubbed “The Great WASP Hope” by Time Magazine, Hurt’s off-beat performance as the jailed homosexual in “Kiss of the Spider Woman” won him the Best Actor Oscar. He received Oscar nominations in the following two years for “Children of a Lesser God” and “Broadcast News,” but then his ability to secure quality parts abruptly vanished as he floated through mediocrities such as “I Love You to Death” (1990), “Until the End of the World” (1992) and “A Couch in New York” (1995). As he hit the half-century mark, Hurt began to find a niche playing stolid fathers in Lost in Space (1998) and “Tuck Everlasting” (2002), but his A-list days seem to be far behind him today.

1985 — Geraldine Page. It took her seven attempts, but Page finally won the Oscar for Best Actress as the lonely old woman in search of her past in “A Trip to Bountiful.” But the award was literally a career end-of-the-road achievement: Page went on to appear in a few unsuccessful films including “Native Son” and “The Bride,” both in 1986, before passing away in 1987.

1986 — Marlee Matlin. The deaf actress won the Best Actress Oscar for her film debut in “Children of a Lesser God,” but no one in Hollywood bothered to consider the possibility of serious roles for hearing impaired performers. Aside from starring as a stalked victim in the dreary “Hear No Evil” (1993), Matlin’s subsequent appearances have been limited to cameos in indie films and guest parts on TV series.

1987 — Olympia Dukakis. As Cher’s wise-cracking mother in “Moonstruck,” Dukakis stole the film and ran off with the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. But she didn’t run off into starring roles or better films. The silver-haired actress remained fixed in the supporting ranks, sometimes in memorable films (“Working Girl” in 1988 and “Steel Magnolias” in 1989) but mostly in forgettable stuff (“The Cemetery Club” in 1993, “I Love Trouble” in 1994). To date, her best post-Oscar role came as the transgendered landlady in the TV mini-series “Tales from the City” and “More Tales from the City.”

1988 — Geena Davis. The statuesque Davis brought home the Oscar as Best Supporting Actress in “The Accidental Tourist” and seemed destined for A-list stardom. It almost happened: Thelma and Louise (1991) and A League of Their Own (1994) were popular hits, but then came “Cutthroat Island” (1995), “The Long Kiss Goodnight” (1996) and a flop TV show. Davis went from the heights of the Academy Award to the ignoble tasks of doing TV commercials and playing mother to an animated mouse in the Stuart Little flicks.

1989 — Brenda Fricker. The stocky Irish actress was a mainstay on British TV soap operas before being tapped to play Daniel Day-Lewis’ mother in “My Left Foot.” Although she won the Best Supporting Actress Award, Fricker never found another part which took advantage of her dramatic warmth and wit. “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” (1992) and “So I Married An Axe Murderer” (1993) was Hollywood’s idea of casting, so Fricker went back across the Atlantic to concentrate on smaller British and Irish film and TV productions instead.

The curse continues in part eight of THE OSCAR JINX STALKS HOLLYWOOD>>>

Posted on March 20, 2003 in Features by


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  1. LibertyLover on Thu, 8th Mar 2012 9:47 pm 

    I believe this article is very harsh against all the actors cited. What the article fails to acknowledge is the abject lack of good scripts and good material offered to most actors. All of the performing artists cited in the article have phenomenal talent, but were stuck with bad scripts. Film making is a collaborative industry and even a film with a great director can be butchered by the studio in the editing room. Directors rarely get “final cut” rights to their film except in rare circumstances. It is the film studio that decides how to do the final cut in editing and how to market/merchandise a film.

    The other fact which this faulty article fails to acknowledge is that actors invariably have short careers due to the entertainment industry being so fickle. Even for successful actors – they only enjoy that fleeting “hot streak” for about 7 years, then many excellent actors see their careers fade, through absolutely no fault of their own.

    Hollywood has always been after “fresh meat” they want new faces – and as actors reach mid-30’s to late-30’s they are not offered acting jobs. It is Hollywood’s obsession with youth, the reason why so many actors don’t have long careers.

    Don’t blame the actors – all the actors in this article have phenomenal talent and excellence in their craft.

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