Turns out, it’s really bad news for celebrity couples who don’t thank each other at the Oscars
Most of us watch the Oscars to ogle celebrities’ fashion choices and to see who amongst our friends predicted the most wins. Very few of us pay attention to the actual thank you speeches made by the Academy Award winners—and the folks at the Academy have realized this.
For the first time in the history of the Oscars, a pre-prepared thank you scroll will run across the bottom of the television screen when winners are announced. This is in hopes of providing those of us at home with more memorable acceptance speeches (instead of a long list of names to thank). Think of it as a “ticker tape of gratitude.” Wow. It’s the end of an era.
But for those celebrities who, in the past, have forgotten to thank their significant other in the moment, it might be a saving grace. Because, guys, forgetting your S.O. in your speech is basically the same as letting a black cat cross your path or walking under a ladder: It’s straight up bad luck.
The Hollywood Reporter studied thirty years’ worth of acceptance speeches—every acting award given from 1986 to 2015—and confirmed that, of the 90 winners who were married or in a relationship during their Academy Award win, 32 did not thank their partners (yikes!), and 60 percent of those 32 couples ended up breaking up. Out of the nearly two-thirds of those winners who thanked their partners in their acceptance speeches—40 percent split anyway. Well, we know fame is tough on a relationship. All we have to do is read any Vanity Fair or People interview to learn that.
The Hollywood Reporter also uncovered some truth to the theory of an “Oscar love curse,” which suggests that women who win best actress typically go on to break up with their partner. Interestingly enough, more women than men ended up splitting after their Oscar win, whether they thanked their partner or not. Out of the 24 Best Actress recipients who were in public relationships since 1986, 15 of them ended up splitting from their partner, whether they thanked him or not — which makes a break-up rate of nearly 63 percent after receiving an Academy Award. Apparently winning an Oscar is good for the career, not-so-great for a relationship.
The majority of the 90 winners were married, or had been in a relationship with the same person for at least five years, when they received an Academy Award. Winners who did acknowledge a partner in an acceptance speech had the best chance of staying together, with 64 percent remaining in the relationship until present day or the death of one partners. Well, that’s sweet. Let that give us hope.
However, among the married and long-term couples who failed to mention a romantic partner or spouse in their speeches, the break-up rate increased by more than 10 percent, from 37 to 50 percent.
Let this be a lesson to us: We often bestow superhuman traits on celebrities, but Hollywood couples are not immune to the national divorce rate, which is estimated to be anywhere between 30 and 50 percent. And history suggests that winners who fail to thank their partners are more likely to split up than winners who do.
I still remember the sad story of Hilary Swank and her then-husband Chad Lowe. After forgetting to thank him when she won best actress for Boys Don’t Cry in 2000, Swank began her 2005 speech for Million Dollar Baby with kind words for her husband. “I’d like to think I learn from past mistakes,” she said. “Chad, you’re my everything.” Swank and Lowe finalized their divorce in 2007.
In the end, I think the lesson is this: Whether you are famous or not, relationships are hard. They require work. And sometimes we mess up. Now if only all of us could have an Oscar scroll to say all the kind things we mean to say when we’re flustered. I guess I’ll just stick with writing my boyfriend lengthy emails. He says he likes them, and I believe him.