Faye Dunaway is one of the few true legends we have left.
The iconic actress, famous for playing tough, spiteful and difficult women, is right up there with the greatest performances in cinema history.
And the 83-year-old is still at it today…
Famously remembered for her twisted cry, “no more wire hangers!” in the campy-cult classic Mommie Dearest, Dunaway is also known for Hurry Sundown with Michael Caine and Bonnie and Clyde, where she beat out Jane Fonda and Natalie Wood for the lead role.
The actress, born in Bascom, Florida, also holds three Golden Globes and an Emmy.
It’s hard to talk about Faye Dunaway’s career without mentioning the movie Mommies Dearest. Channeling the energy of Joan Crawford, Faye Dunaway stunned the crew on the set of Mommie Dearest when she first emerged from the dressing room as the iconic actress, who died four years before.
Mommie Dearest (1981) is the sensationalized film adaptation of Christina Crawford’s memoir of the same name, which tells the story of her dysfunctional relationship with her adopted mother, legendary actress Joan Crawford.
Dunaway really captured something terrifying and charming.
Blurring the lines of reality in her disturbing portrayal of Crawford, Dunaway brought Joan back to life, in and off the set. So much so that she told a Hollywood biographer, “I want to climb inside her skin.”
Either Dunaway perfected her craft as a method actor, or she was possessed by her spirit. She writes in her autobiography, Looking for Gatsby. “One told me it was like seeing Joan herself come back from the dead.”
In fact, the media started reporting that Dunaway was being haunted by Crawford. The Los Angeles Times wrote of her voice, “(Dunaway) appears to have borrowed it for 12 weeks from the ghost of Joan Crawford.”
In one of her most memorable roles, Dunaway says she has regrets. “I think it turned my career in a direction where people would irretrievably have the wrong impression of me–and that’s an awful hard thing to beat,” she told Entertainment Tonight. “I should have known better, but sometimes you’re vulnerable and you don’t realize what you’re getting into.”
Working alongside Hollywood’s hottest men, like Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Kirk Douglas, and Johnny Depp, Dunaway exercised some serious restraint and kept relationships with her co-stars platonic.
”There were certain attractions to a couple of people – not too many, but maybe Jack (Nicholson) and Warren (Beatty). Warren at the time was in full bachelorhood, but Steve (McQueen) was happily devoted to somebody and I wouldn’t mess around with something like that even if it were offered, but it wasn’t.”
“You just don’t” she said in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar. “I have a rule: You know it’s going to ruin the performance and ruin the movie, so you don’t do that.”
The classic beauty with delicate high cheekbones broke the rule for the suave Marcello Mastroianni, an Italian award-winning actor, who was too much of a temptation.
Her relationship with the Italian superstar is one where life imitates art. Starring in A Place for Lovers (1968)–dubbed by Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times as the “most godawful piece of pseudo-romantic slop I’ve ever seen!”–Dunaway plays a fashion designer who has an affair with a race-car driver, played by Mastroianni. In real life, she had a three-year whirlwind affair with the actor, whom she left when he refused to leave his wife.
In an interview with People, Dunaway said, “I was deeply in love with him. He was a man like no one I’d ever met before, and he made me feel deeply protected.”
In 1974, she married musician Peter Wolf, the lead singer of The J. Geils Band, whom she divorced five years later.
In a 2017 story published by Marie Claire, Dunaway was unhappy in her marriage with Wolf and started an affair with famed British photographer Terry O’Neill. O’Neill shot an image of her, sitting by the pool at The Beverly Hills Hotel with her Oscar, from the film The Network, on the table next to her.
The pair married in 1983 and had a son, Liam (born in 1980), whom Dunaway for many years deceived the public, asserting that he was her biological son. Dunaway and O’Neill divorced in 1987.
Dunaway has been accused of being a pandering diva, exceptionally challenging and erratic to co-stars, set crews and even hotel staff.
In 2019, after creating a “hostile” and “dangerous” environment, she was fired from her role as Audrey Hepburn in the off-Broadway production of Tea at Five, and in 1994, she was dropped by Andrew Lloyd Weber in his Los Angeles, CA production of Sunset Boulevard.
One of her leading men, Jack Nicholson, nicknamed her the “gossamer grenade,” and in 1988, when Johnny Carson asked, “who’s one of the worst people you know in Hollywood?” the outspoken and unapologetic Bette Davis quickly answered, “Faye Dunaway and everybody you can put in this chair would tell you exactly the same thing.” She continued, “I don’t think we have the time to go into all the reasons–she’s just uncooperative. Miss Dunaway is for Miss Dunaway.”
Despite Dunaway’s difficult, oftentimes abrasive, and abusive behavior, she is still an actor with significant talent.
In 1997, she was ranked by People on its list of 50 Most Beautiful People, and in 1996, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
As for her relationship status, today, she is single.
In an interview with People in 2016, she said she was still open to dating. “I’m very much a loner,” she admits. “I always think I would like to have a partner in life, and I would–if I could find the right person, I think.”
Her latest credit is from 2022 when she starred alongside Kevin Spacey in the Italian movie L’uomo che disegnò Dio.
We think that Hollywood would not be the same with Dunaway. Tell us what you think of her channeling Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest, and how you feel about her reported outbursts!