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|Born||Dorothy Faye Dunaway|
January 14, 1941 (age 78)
|Spouse||Peter Wolf (m. 1974–79) Terry O'Neill (m. 1983–87)|
Dorothy Faye Dunaway (born January 14, 1941) is an American actress. She has won an Academy Award, three Golden Globes, a BAFTA, an Emmy, and was the first-ever recipient of a Leopard Club Award which honors film professionals whose work has left a mark on the collective imagination. In 2011, the government of France made her an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters.
Dunaway’s career began in the early 1960s on Broadway. She made her screen debut in the 1967 film The Happening, and rose to fame that same year with her portrayal of famed outlaw Bonnie Parker in Arthur Penn's Bonnie and Clyde, for which she received her first Academy Award nomination. Her most notable films include the crime caper The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), the drama The Arrangement (1969), the revisionist western Little Big Man (1970), a turn as Milady de Winter in the Alexandre Dumas classic The Three Musketeers (1973), the neo-noir mystery Chinatown (1974), for which she earned her second Oscar nomination, the action-drama disaster The Towering Inferno (1974), the political thriller Three Days of the Condor (1975), the satirical Network (1976), for which she received an Academy Award for Best Actress, and the thriller Eyes of Laura Mars (1978).
Dunaway's career evolved to more mature and character roles in subsequent years, often in independent films, beginning with her controversial portrayal of Joan Crawford in the 1981 film Mommie Dearest. Other notable films in which she has appeared include the drama Barfly (1987), the surrealist comedy-drama Arizona Dream (1993), the biopic Gia (1998), and the black comedy The Rules of Attraction (2002). Dunaway also performed on stage in several plays including A Man for All Seasons (1961–63), After the Fall (1964), Hogan's Goat (1965–67), A Streetcar Named Desire (1973) and was awarded the Sarah Siddons Award for her portrayal of opera singer Maria Callas in Master Class (1996).
Protective of her private life, she rarely gives interviews and makes very few public appearances. After romantic relationships with Jerry Schatzberg and Marcello Mastroianni, Dunaway married twice, first with singer Peter Wolf and then with photographer Terry O'Neill, with whom she had a son, Liam.
Dunaway was born in Bascom, Florida, the daughter of Grace April (née Smith; 1922–2004), a housewife, and John MacDowell Dunaway, Jr. (1920–1984), a career non-commissioned officer in the United States Army. She is of Scots-Irish, English, and German descent. She spent her childhood traveling throughout the United States and Europe.
Dunaway took dance classes, tap, piano and singing, and then studied at Florida State University and University of Florida, and graduated from the Boston University with a degree in theatre. She spent the summer before her senior year in a summer stock company at Harvard's Loeb Drama Center, where one of her co-players was Jane Alexander, the actress and future head of the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1962, at the age of 21, she took acting classes at the American National Theater and Academy. She was spotted by Lloyd Richards while performing in a production of The Crucible, and was recommended to director Elia Kazan, who was in search of young talent for his Lincoln Center Repertory Company.
Shortly after graduating from Boston University, Dunaway was already appearing on Broadway as a replacement in Robert Bolt's drama A Man for All Seasons. She subsequently appeared in Arthur Miller's After the Fall and the award-winning Hogan's Goat by Harvard professor William Alfred, who became her mentor and spiritual advisor. "With the exception of my mother, my brother, and my beloved son, Bill Alfred has been without question the most important single figure in my lifetime. A teacher, a mentor, and I suppose the father I never had, the parent and companion I would always wanted, if that choice had been mine. He has taught me so much about the virtue of a simple life, about spirituality, about the purity of real beauty, and how to go at this messy business of life."
Dunaway's first screen role was the comedy crime film The Happening (1967), which starred Anthony Quinn. Her performance earned her good notices from critics, with Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times saying that she "exhibits a real neat trick of resting her cheek on the back of her hand." That same year, she had a supporting role in Otto Preminger's drama Hurry Sundown, opposite Michael Caine and Jane Fonda. Filming proved to be difficult for Dunaway as she clashed with Preminger, whom she felt didn't know "anything at all about the process of acting." She later described this experience as a "psychodrama that left me feeling damaged at the end of each day." Dunaway had signed a six-picture deal with Preminger but decided during the filming to get her contract back. "As much as it cost me to get out of the deal with Otto, if I'd had to do those movies with him, then I wouldn't have done Bonnie and Clyde, or The Thomas Crown Affair, or any of the movies I was suddenly in a position to choose to do. Beyond the movies I might have missed, it would have been a kind of Chinese water torture to have been stuck in five more terrible movies. It's impossible to assess the damage that might have done to me that early on in my career." The film was a critical and commercial failure but earned Dunaway a Golden Globe Award nomination, for Best New Star of the Year.
Dunaway had tried to get an interview with director Arthur Penn when he was directing The Chase (1966), but was rebuffed by a casting director who didn't think she had the right face for the movies. When Penn saw her scenes from The Happening before its release, he decided to let her read for the role of the bank robber Bonnie Parker for his upcoming film, Bonnie and Clyde. Casting for the role of Bonnie had proved to be difficult and many actresses had been considered for the role, including Jane Fonda, Tuesday Weld, Ann-Margret, Carol Lynley, Leslie Caron, and Natalie Wood. Penn loved Dunaway and managed to convince actor and producer, Warren Beatty, who played Clyde Barrow in the film, that she was right for the part. Besides her relative anonymity, Beatty's concern was her "extraordinary bone structure," which he thought might be inappropriate for Bonnie Parker, a local girl trying to look innocent while she held up smalltown Texas banks. However, he changed his mind after seeing some photographs of Dunaway taken by Curtis Hanson on the beach, "She could hit the ball across the net, and she had an intelligence and a strength that made her both powerful and romantic." Dunaway only had a few weeks to prepare for the role and, when she was asked to lose weight to give her character a Depression-era look, she went on a starvation diet, stopped eating and dropped thirty pounds.
The film was controversial on its original release for its supposed glorification of murderers, and for its level of graphic violence, which was unprecedented at the time. It performed well at the box office and elevated Dunaway to stardom. Roger Ebert gave the film a rave review and wrote, "The performances throughout are flawless. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, in the title roles, surpass anything they have done on the screen before and establish themselves (somewhat to my surprise) as major actors." The film was nominated for ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and Dunaway received her first nomination for Best Actress. Her performance earned her a BAFTA Award for Best Newcomer and a David di Donatello for Best Foreign Actress, and she was now among the most bankable actresses in Hollywood, as she later recalled. "It put me firmly in the ranks of actresses that would do work that was art. There are those who elevate the craft of acting to the art of acting, and now I would be among them. I was the golden girl at that time. One of those women who was going to be nominated year after year for an Oscar and would win at least one. The movie established the quality of my work. Bonnie and Clyde would also turn me into a star."
"That movie touched the core of my being. Never have I felt so close to a character as I felt to Bonnie. She was a yearning, edgy, ambitious southern girl who wanted to get out of wherever she was. I knew everything about wanting to get out, and the getting out doesn't come easy. But with Bonnie there was a real tragic irony. She got out only to see that she was heading nowhere and that the end was death."
— Faye Dunaway
Dunaway followed this success with another hit, The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), in which she played Vicki Anderson, an insurance investigator who becomes involved with Thomas Crown, a millionaire, played by Steve McQueen, who attempts to pull off the perfect crime. Director Norman Jewison hired Dunaway after he saw scenes from Bonnie and Clyde before its release and, like Arthur Penn did with Warren Beatty, had to convince McQueen that she was right for the part. The film emphasized Dunaway's sensuality and elegance with a character who has remained an influential style icon. The role required over 29 costume changes and was a complex one to play. "Vicki's dilemma was, at the time, a newly emerging phenomenon for women: How does one do all of this in a man's world and not sacrifice one's emotional and personal life in the process?" Despite his original reluctance to work with her, McQueen later called Dunaway the best actress he ever worked with. Dunaway was also very fond of McQueen. "It was really my first time to play opposite someone who was a great big old movie star, and that's exactly what Steve was. He was one of the best-loved actors around, one whose talent more than equaled his sizable commercial appeal." The film was immensely popular, and was famed for a scene where Dunaway and McQueen play a chess game and silently engage in heavy seduction of each other across the board.
Legacy and reputation
Dunaway is regarded as one of the greatest and most beautiful actresses of her generation, as well as a powerful emblem of the New Hollywood. Joan Crawford praised Dunaway in her 1971 book, My Way of Life. "Of all the actresses, to me, only Faye Dunaway has the talent and the class and the courage it takes to make a real star." Director John Huston, who played Dunaway's father in Chinatown, stated in a 1985 interview that he found her to be "quite extraordinary." Robert Evans, who produced Chinatown, also described her as "extraordinary" and affirmed that "no one could've played her part as well." Stephen Rebello of Movieline wrote in a 2002 article, "Though fiercely modern, an ideal female analog for screen machos like Steve McQueen and the young Jack Nicholson, she also radiated the stuff vintage movie stars are made of. Any actress today would be lucky to have a fraction of her films on her resume." Cannes Film Festival artistic director Thierry Fremaux said, "She has one of the most wonderful filmographies of any actress. Look at her movies from the '70s for example — she only made good choices. She's had an incredible career." Through her career, Dunaway worked with many of the 20th century's greatest directors—Elia Kazan, Sidney Lumet, Arthur Penn, Roman Polanski, Sydney Pollack and Emir Kusturica among them, and several of the films she starred in became classics. In 1998, the American Film Institute ranked Bonnie and Clyde, Chinatown and Network on their list of the 100 best American movies ever made. Her roles as Bonnie Parker and Joan Crawford were respectively named 32nd and 41st on the AFI's list of the fifty greatest screen characters in the villain category. Elizabeth Snead wrote in her review for USA Today of Dunaway's memoirs that she was "the epitome of a modern, mature, sexy woman" and Mark Harris of Entertainment Weekly felt that "Faye Dunaway is a rarity in the land of stars (and star bios) — a tough, smart, committed pro." In 1994, Dunaway was ranked 27th by People Magazine on a list of the 50 most beautiful people and in 1997 she was ranked 65th by Empire Magazine on a list of the 100 top stars in film history.
Famously demanding, with an attention to detail that sometimes drove costars and directors mad, Dunaway believed she was often mistaken for being as cold and calculating as some of the women she portrayed. Her clashes with Roman Polanski on the set of Chinatown earned her a reputation for being difficult to work with. Upon the release of the film, Polanski told a reporter for Rolling Stone that he considered Dunaway "a gigantic pain in the ass,” but added that he had "never known an actress to take work as seriously as she does. I tell you, she is a maniac.” In his 1996 book Making Movies, Sidney Lumet slammed Dunaway's reputation for being difficult as "totally untrue" and called her a "selfless, devoted and wonderful actress." Director Elia Kazan described Dunaway as "a supremely endowed, hungry, curious, bright young talent" and added "Faye is a brilliant actress and a shy, highly-strung woman. She is intelligent and she is strong-willed." Like Lumet, Kazan felt she was not difficult but a perfectionist who was never satisfied. "The artist is rarely, if ever, satisfied. The artist is frequently grateful and intermittently amazed, but he or she is never satisfied. That Faye is unlikely to be satisfied with her efforts—or those with whom she works—is not a caprice; it is not the willful misbehavior of a spoiled actress: This is how artists operate." Johnny Depp, who co-starred with Dunaway in Arizona Dream and Don Juan deMarco, called her a misunderstood artist. "She’s just uncompromising as an actress and I think that’s a positive thing." Maria Elena Fernandez of The Los Angeles Times wrote in a 2005 article about Dunaway that "in her case, the behavior many call 'difficult' seems clearly linked more to passions than to ego." In her autobiography Looking for Gatsby, Dunaway confronted this reputation and described herself as a "perfectionist." "God is in the details. I want to get it right. The fact is a man can be difficult and people applaud him for trying to do a superior job. People say, 'Well gosh, he's got a lot of guts. He's a real man.' And a woman can try to get it right and she's 'a pain in the ass.' It's my nature to do really good jobs, and I would never have been successful if I hadn't."
In 1962, Dunaway started a romance with stand-up comedian Lenny Bruce that lasted for a year. She was engaged to photographer Jerry Schatzberg from 1967 to 1968. The two remained friends and Dunaway later starred in his first film as a director, Puzzle of a Downfall Child (1970). During the filming of A Place for Lovers (1968), Dunaway fell in love with her co-star Marcello Mastroianni. The two had a two-year-live-in relationship. Dunaway wanted to marry and have children, but Mastroianni, a married man, couldn't bear to hurt his wife and refused, despite protests from his teenage daughter Barbara and his close friend Federico Fellini. Dunaway decided to leave him and told a reporter at the time that she "gave too much. I gave things I have to save for my work." She later recalled in her autobiography, "There are days when I look back on those years with Marcello and have moments of real regret. There is that one piece of me that thinks that had we married, we might be married still. It was one of our fantasies, that we would grow old together. He thought we would be like Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, a love kept secret for a lifetime. Private and only belonging to the two of us." Mastroianni later told a reporter for People in 1987 that he never got over his relationship with Dunaway. "She was the woman I loved the most. I’ll always be sorry to have lost her. I was whole with her for the first time in my life."
In 1974, Dunaway married Peter Wolf, the lead singer of the rock group The J. Geils Band. Their career commitments caused frequent separations and the two divorced in 1979. She met her second husband, the British photographer Terry O'Neill, when he was assigned by People Magazine to take pictures of her in 1977. They married in 1979 and Dunaway credited O'Neill with being "the one person responsible for helping me grow up to womanhood and a healthy sense of myself." Their child, Liam Dunaway O'Neill, was born in 1980. In 2003, despite Dunaway's earlier indications that she had given birth to Liam, Terry O'Neill revealed that their son was adopted. During their marriage, which lasted four years until their divorce in 1987, Dunaway, born a Protestant of Scottish, Irish and German descent, converted to Catholicism. In a rare interview for Harper's Bazaar in 2016, Dunaway said she felt "it's important to have a partner, probably" but described herself as a "loner" and added, "I kind of like to be alone and do my work and, you know, be focused on my own things."