An Academy Award-winning American actress, Faye Dunaway was one of the hottest actresses in the 1970s playing neurotic, highly driven women with sex attraction. First earning recognition as a stage performer, this exotically stunning, gifted and somewhat stormy performer was shot to stardom as the distaff half of the bank robbing pair in the Arthur Penn screen classic Bonnie and Clyde (1967), from which she was nominated for an Oscar, and won a BAFTA Award and a Golden Laurel Award. She solidified her status as one of the most influential leading ladies by picking up her next Oscar nomination for her work on the Roman Polanski-directed Chinatown (1974, as Evelyn Cross Mulwray). However, it was not until 1975 that Dunaway reached the zenith of her fame, when she was cast as ruthless TV executive Diana on Sidney Lumet’s Network. Delivering a spectacular performance, she won such honors as a Golden Globe Award, a BAFTA Award, a Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award, a David di Donatello Award, and finally an Oscar. Other memorable performances include Lou McDowell in Hurry Sundown (1967, netted a BAFTA Award), Vicki Anderson in The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), Lady de Winter in The Three Musketeers (1973), Laura Mars in Eyes of Laura Mars (1978), Wanda in Barfly (1987), Marilyn Mickler in Don Juan DeMarco (1995), Lee Cayhall Bowen in The Chamber (1996) and Yolande D’Aragon in The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999). Her more recent and upcoming projects include The Rules of Attraction (2002), Ghosts Never Sleep (2005), Rain (2006), Love Hollywood Style (2006), Dr. Fugazzi (2007), Say It in Russian (2007) and American Cowslip (2007).
The actress has also found some triumph on the small screen. She collected two Golden Globe Awards for her performances in the 1984 miniseries “Ellis Island,” as Maud Charteris, and the 1998 television film Gia, as Wilhelmina Cooper. In 1994, the versatile player won an Emmy Award after playing Peter Falk’s hurly-burly partner in the TV-film Columbo: It’s All in the Game (1993). In 2005, Dunaway appeared as a judge on several episodes of the reality show “The Starlet.”
Off camera, Dunaway is a convert to Roman Catholicism and was a member of Pi Beta Phi fraternity for women. She was married to Peter Wolf from 1974 to 1979 and then to Terry O’Neill from 1983 to 1987. She has a 27-year-old son, Liam O’Neill. The twice divorced actress’ love life has also been linked to several celebrities, like the comedian Lenny Bruce, director Jerry Schatzberger (together from 1966 to 1968), actor Marcello Mastroianni (dated between 1968 and 1970) and Los Angeles-born performer Harris Yulin (together from 1970 to 1972).
Childhood and Family:
Dorothy Faye Dunaway (dropped her first name when she began acting) was born prematurely on January 14, 1941, in Bascom, Florida, to John MacDowell Dunaway, an army officer, and Grace April Smith, a homemaker. Her parents separated when Faye was seventeen years old, and her mother was later married to Jim Hartshorn. She has a younger brother named Mac.
Initially planning to become an educator, Miss Faye decided to become an actress and transformed from University of Florida to Boston University, studying theater art and graduating in 1962. She turned down a Fulbright scholarship to attend the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) for a role in a Broadway play with the American National Theatre and Academy (ANTA).
Faye tied the knot with Peter Wolf, the lead vocalist of the rock group the J. Geils Band, on August 7, 1974, but the marriage ended in divorce in 1979. Next, she married Terry O’Neill, a famous British photographer, in 1983, but they divorced four years later, in 1987. Faye and O’Neill have a son named Liam Walker Dunaway O’Neill (born 1980). In 2003, however, O’Neill disclosed that his son with Faye was adopted, not biological, although the actress had long retained the opposite.
After college, Faye Dunaway launched her professional career with the American National Theatre and Academy, making her Broadway debut in the 1962 production of “A Man for All Seasons.” For two years, she continued to perform onstage in a number of ANTA productions, including Arthur Miller’s “After the Fall” (1964), before scoring a breakthrough performance as the damned Kathleen Stanton in an off-Broadway production of William Alfred’s “Hogan’s Goat” (1965) at the American Place, which led to a six-year contract with movie director Otto Preminger. In 1967, Dunaway kicked off her film career with Preminger’s dull melodrama Hurry Sundown, playing a poor Southerner married to a farmer (John Philip Law), a role that won Dunaway a 1988 BAFTA for Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles. The two, however, often conflicted, and she declined to appear in his Skidoo. Following a legal clash, the actress was permitted to buy out the remainder of her contract, and she next acted in The Happening (1967).
Despite these discouraging beginnings, Dunaway reached prominence later that same year when she was cast opposite Warren Beatty in Arthur Penn’s crime saga Bonnie and Clyde. The film was a huge success, becoming one of the most powerful films of the era, and she became an instant star. For her outstanding portrayal of the notorious criminal Bonnie Parker, she won a BAFTA for Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles and a Golden Laurel for Female Dramatic Performance, as well as received a Best Actress Academy Award nomination. With the success, Dunaway was launched to the front ranks of leading ladies.
Dunaway cemented her calmly elegant screen persona with her role as an insurance investigator romantically involved with a millionaire thief (Steve McQueen) in The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) and earned some of the movie’s best notices for playing Kirk Douglas’ mistress in The Arrangement (1969), a drama directed and penned by Elia Kazan. She offered an influential starring turn as a high-strung fashion model in Jerry Schatzberg’s directorial debut Puzzle of a Downfall Child (1970). Early 1970s also saw the actress start to showcase her versatility in comic turns, such as playing nymphomaniacal priest’s wife in Arthur Penn’s hit Little Big Man (1970) and as Milady de Winter in Richard Lester’s remake of The Three Musketeers (1973) and its continuation The Four Musketeers (1974), and in highly dramatic roles, like as frontierswoman in the revisionist Western ‘Doc’ (1971). Meanwhile, Dunaway found herself appearing in several TV projects, including the TV version of Hogan’s Goat (1971, reprised her stage role of Kathleen Stanton) and the NBC adaptation of Arthur Miller’s After the Fall (1974, delivered a burning turn as Maggie), and in such stage productions as Harold Pinter’s “Old Times” (1971) and “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1972).
An acclaimed performer, Dunaway proved that she was back on the saddle again with her memorable performance in Roman Polanski’s noir drama Chinatown (1974), starring as the multifarious, untruthful Evelyn Mulwray, opposite Jack Nicholson. For her brilliant effort, she was handed her next Oscar nomination, and received two other nods, a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture Actress – Drama and a BAFTA Film for Best Actress. She further confirmed that her star power had returned in full with the success of The Towering Inferno (1974). After a performance along side Robert Redford in the well-received thriller Three Days of the Condor (1975), Dunaway gained even more appreciation and popularity when Sidney Lumet had her play the starring role of an ambitious TV executive, Diana Christensen, in the 1976 scornful black comedy Network. On her third attempt, the actress eventually took home an Academy Award for her role in the movie. She also picked up a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Actress-Drama, a Kansas City Film Critics Circle for Best Actress and a David di Donatello for Best Foreign Actress, as well as a Best Actress BAFTA Film nomination. This was quickly followed by roles in the British film Voyage of the Damned (1976), the NBC TV-film The Disappearance of Aimee (1976), and in 1978 she became known as the star of the much-maligned thriller The Eyes of Laura Mars.
After wasted performances in the ill-advised remake of The Camp (1979) and The First Deadly Sin (1980, opposite Frank Sinatra), Dunaway could be seen in Joan Crawford’s camp classic Mommie Dearest (1981), which found limited success as a midnight movie, and Evita Peron (1981, TV). Her career was again drooping, a doom which neither the 1982 telefilm The Country Girl nor the 1982 Broadway production of “The Curse of an Aching Heart”, helped to remedy. Following the sci-fi film Supergirl (1984), the actress spent much of the decade on the small screen. In 1985, she nabbed a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV for her work on the miniseries “Ellis Island” (1984). Her other TV credits include the CBS miniseries “Christopher Columbus” (1985), Beverly Hills Madam (1986) and the well-received TNT film Cold Sassy Tree (1989, also served as producer).
Dunaway won acclaim for her performance opposite Mickey Rourke in the independent film Barfly (1987), in which she portrayed a drunk named Wanda Wilcox. Unfortunately, her subsequent projects went overlooked, including the 1990 Chinatown installment The Two Jakes. In 1993, she took on the starring role of Laura Scofield on the short-lived sitcom “It Had to Be You,” with Robert Urich, and was notable as Lauren Staton, a sparring partner for Peter Falk’s Columbo, in the TV-film Columbo: It’s All in the Game (1993), a role that brought her a 1994 Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series. Despite the TV success, in 1994, Dunaway found disappointment on stage when Andrew Lloyd Webber closed the musicalization of “Sunset Boulevard” just before performances were to begin in L.A, citing the actress could not meet the vocal demands of the show, which resulted in a lawsuit. Two years later, Dunaway rebounded as Maria Callas on the national tour of Terrence McNally’s Tony-winning “Master Class.”
A star of the 1970s films, Dunaway tried to revitalize her fading screen career by undertaking supporting roles in Don Juan DeMarco (1995, with Marlon Brando), Kevin Spacey’s directorial debut Albino Alligator (1996, with Matt Dillon) and the film adaptation of author John Grisham’s The Chamber (1996, as Gene Hackman’s alcoholic daughter). In 1999, she offered a nod to her screen past with a cameo role in the remake of her 1968 film, The Thomas Crown Affair, starring Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo, and later that year she assumed the more sizeable role of Yolanda of Aragon on director Luc Besson’s Joan of Arc epic The Messenger. Still in 1999, Dunaway enjoyed small screen success by netting a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture for her performance as Wilhelmina Cooper in the television film Gia (1998).
As the new millennium rolled in, Dunaway was introduced to a new generation of moviegoers by playing the mother of Ian Somerhalder on director/writer Roger Avary’s jumpy film adaptation of Brett Easton Ellis’ The Rules of Attraction (2002), which starred TV-teen-affable faces like James Van Der Beek and Jessica Biel. She went on to appear in underwhelming movies such as The Calling (2002), Last Goodbye (2004) and Ghosts Never Sleep (2005). She maintained her presence on the small screen with a number of projects under her belts, including recurring roles in “Touched by an Angel” (2001) and “Alias” (2002-2003). However, she is maybe best remembered as a judge in The WB reality “The Starlet” (2005). In 2006, Dunaway made five movies, including the Brooklyn Sudan vehicle Rain, the comedy Cougar Club and Michael Stein’s Love Hollywood Style, and made a guest performance in an episode of the popular show “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.”
The 66-year-old performer is scheduled to costar in the thriller feature Dr. Fugazzi (2007), playing Detective Rowland. Additionally, she will be cast as Jacqueline de Rossy on the drama/romance Say It in Russian (2007), starring Steven Brand and Agata Gotova, and Roe on Mark David’s American Cowslip (2007). On the small screen, Dunaway will team up with Tiffani Thiessen, Vincent Spano and Eric Roberts for the miniseries “Pandemic” (2007), as Govenor Shaefer.
- Chicago International Film Festival: Career Achievement, 2001
- Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture, Gia, 1999
- Emmy: Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series, “Columbo: It’s All in the Game,” 1994
- Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV, “Ellis Island,” 1985
- Oscar: Best Actress in a Leading Role, Network, 1977
- Golden Globe: Best Motion Picture Actress – Drama, Network, 1977
- David di Donatello: Best Foreign Actress (Migliore Attrice Straniera), Network, 1977
- Kansas City Film Critics Circle: Best Actress, Network, 1977
- Hasty Pudding Theatricals: Woman of the Year, 1974
- BAFTA: Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles, Bonnie and Clyde, 1968
- Golden Laurel: Female Dramatic Performance, Bonnie and Clyde, 1968
- BAFTA: Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles, Hurry Sundown, 1968