The clue to the misfortune awaiting so many actresses can be found hidden within the most famous Oscar acceptance line of all time.
“I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!”
“Right now, you like me” is a phrase that so rightly sums up the disposable role so many actresses play in the churning, money-making machine that is Hollywood.
It appears that when actresses are young, beautiful and successful they are happily handed statutes, adoration and acclaim, but it all often comes with a ticking clock attached. From an audience perspective, it can often appear that scoring an Oscar is a pretty much life’s golden ticket, one that sets you up for further career success.
But history has proven that nothing could be further from the truth.
From battling drug addiction, to losing film roles after rebuffing sexual advances, to bankruptcy and stepping away from movies due to poor mental health, here are just some of the actresses whose lives became difficult after they won an Oscar.
Joan Crawford (who was born Lucille Fay LeSueur) won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role in 1946 for Mildred Pierce.
At the height of her career, she was one of Hollywood’s most lauded leading ladies, but following her Oscar win her career took a downward turn. In order to try and reclaim her career and continue working in the youth-obsessed film industry, Crawford pitched and starred in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? in 1962, opposite her “arch-nemesis” Bette Davis who was also finding it hard to land film roles following her own Oscar wins.
In 1973, Crawford was forced to retire from being the face of Pepsi-Cola at the behest of company executive Don Kendall, which was rumored to be because of her age and declining star power.
Her last public appearance was made on September 23, 1974. After a lifetime of working in an industry that only valued her for her looks, Crawford saw a series of photos of herself from the September event and then canceled all public appearances, began declining interviews and hid inside her apartment after stating “if that’s how I look, then they won’t see me anymore”.
Joan Crawford died in her New York apartment of a myocardial infarction in 1978. She explicitly disinherited her two eldest children, Christina and Christopher, from her will “for reasons which are well known to them”.
In November 1978, Christina Crawford published the book Mommie Dearest, which contained allegations that her late adoptive mother was emotionally and physically abusive to Christina and her brother Christopher because she chose to be famous instead of raising her children.