Faye Dunaway - Actors and Actresses

Nationality: American. Born: Dorothy Faye Dunaway in Bascom, Florida, 14 January 1941. Education: Attended U.S. Army schools in Texas, Arkansas, Utah, and Mannheim, Germany; completed high school at Tallahassee, Florida; Florida State University, University of Florida, and Boston University School of Fine and Applied Arts, graduated 1962; studied in training program of Lincoln Center Repertory Theatre. Family: Married 1) the rock musician Peter Wolf, 1974; 2) the photographer Terry O'Neill, one son. Career: 1962—replaced Olga Bellin as Margaret in Broadway production of A Man for All Seasons ; 1964—with Lincoln Center company in After the Fall and But for Whom Charlie ; 1966—first film role in The Happening ; contract with Otto Preminger; 1971—in summer stock production of Candida and TV adaptation of Hogan's Goat ; 1993—in TV series It Had to Be You. Awards: Most Promising Newcomer, British Academy, for Bonnie and Clyde , 1967; Best Actress, Academy Award for Network , 1976. Agent: Sam Cohn, ICM, 40 W. 57th Street, New York, NY 10019, U.S.A.

Films as Actress:


The Happening (Silverstein) (as Sandy); Hurry Sundown (Preminger) (as Lou McDowell)


Bonnie and Clyde (Penn) (as Bonnie Parker)


The Extraordinary Seaman (Frankenheimer) (as Jennifer Winslow); The Thomas Crown Affair (Jewison) (as Vicky Anderson); Amanti ( A Place for Lovers ) (De Sica) (as Julia)


The Arrangement (Kazan) (as Gwen)


Little Big Man (Penn) (as Mrs. Pendrake); Puzzle of a Downfall Child (Schatzberg) (as Lou Andreas Sand)


Doc (Perry) (as Kate Elder); La Maison sous les arbres ( The Deadly Trap ) (Clément) (as Jill); The Woman I Love (Wendkos—for TV) (as Mrs. Wallis Simpson)


Oklahoma Crude (Kramer) (as Lena Doyle); The Three Musketeers ( The Queen's Diamonds ) (Lester) (as Lady de Winter)


After the Fall (Cates—for TV); The Four Musketeers ( The Revenge of Milady ) (Lester) (as Lady de Winter); Chinatown (Polanski) (as Evelyn Mulwray); The Towering Inferno (Guillermin) (as Susan Franklin)


Three Days of the Condor (Pollack) (as Kathy Hale)


The Disappearance of Aimée (Harvey—for TV); Network (Lumet) (as Diana Christensen); Voyage of the Damned (Rosenberg) (as Denise Kreisler)


The Eyes of Laura Mars (Kershner) (title role)


Arthur Miller—on Home Ground (Rasky—doc); The Champ (Zeffirelli) (as Annie)


The First Deadly Sin (Hutton) (as Barbara Delaney)


Mommie Dearest (Perry) (as Joan Crawford); Evita Peron (Chomsky—for TV) (title role)


The Wicked Lady (Winner) (as Lady Barbara Skelton)


Supergirl (Szwarc) (as Selena); Ellis Island (London—for TV)


13 at Dinner (Antonio—for TV); Cristoforo Colombo (Lattuada—for TV)


Beverly Hills Madam (Hart—for TV); Cowgirls (Walker—for TV)


Barfly (Shroeder) (as Wanda Wilcox); Casanova (Langton—for TV); Midnight Crossing (Holzberg) (as Helen Barton)


Raspberry Ripple (Finch—for TV); Burning Secret (Birkin) (as Sonya Tuchman)


Wait until Spring, Bandini (Deruddere) (as Mme. Effie Hildegarde); Up to Date (Wertmüller); Cold Sassy Tree (Tewkesbury—for TV)


The Handmaid's Tale (Schlöndorff) (as Serena Joy); The Two Jakes (Nicholson) (voice of Evelyn Mulwray); Silhouette (Schenkel—for TV) (as Samantha Kimball)


Scorchers (Beaird) (as Thais); Double Edge (Kollek) (as Faye Milano); Arizona Dream (Kusturica) (as Elaine Stalker)


The Temp (Holland) (as Charlene Towne); Columbo: It's All in the Game (for TV) (as Lauren Black)


Don Juan DeMarco (Leven) (as Marilyn Mickler); A Family Divided (for TV) (as Karen Billingsly)


Dunston Checks In (Kwapis) (as Mrs. Dubrow); The Chamber (Foley) (as Lee Bowen)


Rebecca (O'Brien—for TV) (as Mrs. Van Hopper); Drunks (Cohn) (as Becky); The Twilight of the Golds (Ross Kagan Marks—for TV) (as Phyllis Gold)


Fanny Hill (Getty); Gia (Cristofer—for TV) (as Wilhelmina Cooper); A Will of Their Own (Arthur—mini for TV) (as Margaret Sanger)


The Thomas Crown Affair (McTiernan) (as the Psychiatrist); The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (Besson) (as Yolande D'Aragon); Love Lies Bleeding (Tannen)


Running Mates (Lagomarsino—for TV) (Meg Gable); Stanley's Gig (Lazard) (as Leila); The Yards (Gray I) (as Kitty Olchin)


By DUNAWAY: book—

Looking for Gatsby: My Life , with Betsy Sharkey, New York, 1995.

By DUNAWAY: articles—

Interviews, in Newsweek (New York), 4 March 1968.

Photoplay (London), September 1983.

Interview with Allan Hunter, in Films and Filming (London), September 1986.

"Playing against Type and Time," interview with Betsy Sharkey, in New York Times , 11 October 1992.

Interview with Graham Fuller, in Interview , February 1993.

Interview with M.S. Malkin, in Premiere (Boulder), October 1996.

On DUNAWAY: books—

Wake, Sandra, and Nicola Hayden, The Bonnie and Clyde Book , New York, 1972.

Hunter, Allan, Faye Dunaway , New York, 1986.

On DUNAWAY: articles—

Wiley, Mason, "Faye Dunaway: Breaking the Ice," in Close-Ups: The Movie Star Book , edited by Danny Peary, New York, 1978.

Dunning, Jennifer, "Faye Dunaway as Hollywood Terror," in New York Times , 13 September 1981.

Bell, Arthur, "Faye Loves Joan," in The Village Voice (New York), 16–22 September 1981.

Article on TV career, in Films in Review (New York), August/September 1982.

Cieutat, M., "Portrait d'une etoile errante," in Positif , February 1993.

Schneider, Karen S., "Tough Act to Follow," in People Weekly , 8 May 1995.

Evans, G., "Dunaway set to tour, film Class ," in Variety (New York), 9–15 September 1996.

* * *

From the moment Faye Dunaway suggestively sized up Warren Beatty as a one-way ticket out of Smalltown, U.S.A. in Bonnie and Clyde , she has dominated movie screens with a relentless drive and soigné sex appeal. When she launched a fashion frenzy with Bonnie and Clyde 's slick sixties take on thirties clothes for the well-dressed bandit, her stardom was clinched. After a brief period with the fledgling Lincoln Center Repertory Theater and several critically acclaimed off-Broadway appearances, she achieved international recognition in this, her third film. The odd conundrum about Dunaway's career is that this diva has miscast herself as a studio-era movie star. Blessed with a firm director and a role that ignites her trademark turbulent angst, Dunaway is overpowering, a star by virtue of her instinctual talent. Unfortunately, such inspired occasions ( Bonnie and Clyde , Chinatown , Network , Mommie Dearest , Barfly ) are outnumbered by clotheshorse vehicles ( Thomas Crown Affair , Puzzle of a Downfall Child ), premature camp outings ( Supergirl , Wicked Lady ), or indifferent television forays ( Disappearance of Aimée , Beverly Hills Madam ).

Whereas stars often make concessions to unrewarding box-office gigs (e.g., Dustin Hoffman in Outbreak ) to maintain the muscle to acquire dream roles, Dunaway sleepwalks through such compromises ( Towering Inferno , Three Days of the Condor ) as though in some lowkey artistic rebellion. At times, she lets her cheekbones do her acting for her ( Eyes of Laura Mars ) but, fortunately, the acting triumphs are too impressive to ignore.

In a role earmarked for the totally unsuitable Ali McGraw, Dunaway employed her distancing haughtiness to suggest unfathomable mystery in Chinatown. As her carefully rehearsed illusions crumbled, Chinatown 's Evelyn Mulwray preserved a front of composure (prefiguring Dunaway's Joan Crawford image-maintenance in Mommie Dearest ). Subverting this facade, Dunaway subtly conveyed the trauma behind the Evelyn Mulwray mask her character wore to conceal her secrets.

Next, Oscar came calling with a stunning evocation of the soullessness of Network TV. In Chayefsky's sour grapes diatribe, Dunaway's barnstorming was in sync with the hyperbolic proselytizing and the actor-dominated mise-en-scène. In all her memorable roles, there is an element of playacting, of sizing up what men want from her and then jockeying for power once she has satisfied the fools. Nowhere was that practiced insincerity more chilling than when used to inhabit Diana Christensen, the ratings-mad media shark, who circles her rivals for the scent of blood.

The touchstone of Dunaway's career, Mommie Dearest , a ferocious tribute to fellow warrior-star Joan Crawford, brought Faye celluloid immortality of sorts, a cool reception from Hollywood's old guard, and a persistent case of role reverberation. Like that other victim of identification with one characterization—Tony Perkins/Norman Bates—Dunaway has been handicapped by a diabolically acute impersonation that cemented her screen image: in her case, as a souped-up virago, psychologically shackled to deranged Norman Vincent Pealisms. Dunaway's star-freak emerged as an avatar of hostility. Although the film is alternately silly and searing, Dunaway eyebrow-penciled the greatest caricature in film history since Chaplin's comic-kaze assault on Hitler.

Having played a monster, Dunaway found it difficult to assume the mantle of just plain folks. By the time we spotted her as a conventional mortal in Don Juan DeMarco , one felt one was witnessing a tornado consigned to do a breeze's work. After working with directors unable to control her idiosyncrasies, Dunaway redeemed herself in Barfly by self-effacingly portraying a washed-out woman whose prime pleasure derives from the bottle. Unforgettably tagging Wanda as a loner who is damaged but who will not be messed with, Dunaway conveyed how this dipso was so pathologically fearful of being alone that she would go with any man who had a fifth of whiskey.

Stymied by Mommie Dearest identification syndrome, Dunaway survived a sitcom fiasco, It Had to Be You , in high style, only to be ignominiously fired from the Los Angeles company of Sunset Boulevard for singing deficiencies one would assume Andrew Lloyd Webber might have gauged in advance. Cursed by Joan Crawford and Norma Desmond, lesser stars might have capitulated, but Dunaway has exhibited more caginess than other aging actresses faced with career downtime.

Admittedly, Dunston Checks In is a regrettable nod toward family entertainment, but she doesn't disgrace herself in any other late-career disappointments. Those fortunate enough to have basked in the glory of her national stage tour of "The Master Class" witnessed Dunaway's undiminished power; she's in a holding pattern for the next juicy screen role. Taking matters into her own hands, she has purchased screen rights to this Terrence McNally play about Maria Callas, no stranger to star tantrums herself.

In the meantime, she dazzles fans with supporting turns in TV fare like Gia (a younger Dunaway could have shown Angelina Jolie a thing or two about playing that title role) and Twilight of the Golds ( effortlessly moving in a Jewish mother role, one would have thought outside her range). In an ongoing variety of weather-beaten characterizations on the big screen, Dunaway never holds back from persuasive interpretations nor permits herself to look truly awful onscreen. That's a star's prerogative. As the high society alcoholic in Drunks , as the secretive barkeep in Albino Alligator , as the tragic witness in The Chamber , and as the flinty mother of a monarch in The Messenger; The Story of Joan of Arc , she feeds off our memories of her youthful glamour to suggest how far these characters have fallen from grace. Finally free of the Mommie Dearest stigma, she will probably never be free of that innate hauteur that rules out any chance of blowsy character work. Still smashing looking, Dunaway may have to redefine the way audiences view older women, so often interpreted by male writers as dried-up shrews or addle-pated biddies. Sadly, Hollywood extends opportunities to over-the-hill male icons, while gingerly treating a female legend like Blanche Dubois on a weekend pass from the asylum. Is Dunaway supposed to start looking for The Whales of August already? For a measure of her irreplaceable allure, check out the remake of The Thomas Crown Affair; the original was no great shakes, but McQueen and Dunaway were larger than life. Dunaway still is. The unapproachable cover girl beauty that made her a star will limit her choices as she grows older, unless male screenwriters start writing up to her seasoned level.

—Robert Pardi

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