Sunday, January 23, 2011

Faye Dunaway: One of the Hottest Actresses of the 1970s

Born January 14, 1941, Faye Dunaway attended the University of Florida, Florida State University and Boston University, but graduated from the University of Florida in theater. In 1962, Dunaway joined the American National Theater and Academy.

Dunaway performed on Broadway in A Man for All Seasons (1962). Her first screen role was in the film The Happening (1967). In 1967, she was in the film Hurry Sundown. Also, that same year, she played a leading role in the film Bonnie and Clyde opposite Warren Beatty, which earned her an Oscar nomination.

The story takes place during the depression in the early 1930s. Bonnie Parker meets Clyde Barrow while he tries to steal her mother's car from the front yard. Interested in his personality and bored with her job as a waitress, she decides to run off with him. Together they commit a few small time holdups that provide them with excitement, but that is about all. Eventually, they recruit C. W. Moss, a slow witted garage mechanic, to drive the getaway car. Soon, they are joined by Clyde's brother Buck, just released from prison and his whining wife, Blanche. They decide to become notorious bank robbers, which turns into an amazing and exciting story....

The film was directed by Arthur Penn. The screenplay was written by David Newman and Robert Benton, with Robert Towne and Beatty providing uncredited contributions to the script. Bonnie and Clyde is considered a landmark film that broke many taboos. Its success may have motivated other filmmakers to use sex and violence in their films. It received Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress (Estelle Parsons) and Best Cinematography (Burnett Guffey).

Other actresses considered for the role of Bonnie Parker include: Tuesday Weld, Ann-Margret, Carol Lynley, and Sue Lyon.

When Faye Dunaway looked at Theodora van Runkle's printed scarves, pencil skirts, knitted sweaters, the one-time model completely changed her style. "… until I met Theodora, clothes...had just been part of the job," Dunaway once said. "She taught me how much fun it can be." Soon, many of us girls wanted to look "retro chic". Even the beret, once only worn by Frenchmen and struggling poets, became a hot fashion item. Due partly to Bonnie and Clyde, the '30s look became popular in the 1970s.

In 1968, Dunaway starred with Steve McQueen in The Thomas Crown Affair; she had a small role in the 1999 remake with the same title. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards and won the Award for Best Song with "Windmills of Your Mind". Of all of the films Steve McQueen made in his career, this one is reported to have been his favorite.

The story begins when Thomas Crown, a millionaire businessman and sportsman, pulls off a perfect crime by robbing a Boston bank and dumping the money into a cemetery's trash can. Crown retrieves the money later and deposits it at a bank in Geneva. Vicki Anderson, an independent insurance investigator, is contracted to investigate the heist. She will receive a percentage of the stolen money if she recovers it. Their relationship turns into one of the hottest affairs I have seen in a movie. But, things become complicated because of Vicki's job.

The film is beautifully photographed and it also has a wonderful musical score. Director Norman Jewison makes use of the split screen in several places in the film, which captures the era perfectly.

In the 1970s, Faye Dunaway made Three Days of the Condor, Little Big Man, Chinatown, The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers, Eyes of Laura Mars, and Network, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress as the scheming TV executive Diana Christensen. She worked with such leading men as Dustin Hoffman, Charlton Heston, Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Tommy Lee Jones, Jack Nicholson, and Robert Duvall.

In the 1980s, Dunaway blamed the film Mommie Dearest (1981) for ruining her career as a leading lady. Joan Crawford once said: ""Of all the actresses ... to me, only Faye Dunaway has the talent and the class and the courage it takes to make a real star."

In 1987, Dunaway was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama for her performance in Barfly. In a later movie, Don Juan DeMarco (1995), she co-starred with Johnny Depp and Marlon Brando.

Dunaway starred in the 1986 made-for-television movie Beverly Hills Madam opposite Melody Anderson, Donna Dixon, Terry Farrell and Robin Givens. In 1993, she briefly starred in a sitcom with Robert Urich, It Had to Be You. Dunaway won an Emmy for a 1994 role as a murderer in "It's All in the Game," an episode of the TV series Columbo.

In 1996, she toured nationally with the stage play Master Class. The story about opera singer Maria Callas. Dunaway bought the rights to the Terrence McNally play for possible film project.

In 2009, she appeared in the  "made-for-tv movie" Midnight Bayou, also known as Nora Roberts' Midnight Bayou The film is based on the Nora Roberts novel of the same name and is part of the Nora Roberts 2009 movie collection, which also includes: Northern Lights, High Noon, and Tribute.

The film begins when a young college student (Jerry O'Connell), is out having good times with some friends in New Orleans, comes across an old deserted mansion and sees the ghost of a woman there. He feels a connection to her and the house. Years later, now an attorney, O'Connell moves to the area to start a new law practice. Local legends claim that the house is haunted and shortly after he moves in, he begins hearing voices and seeing things. He is also attracted to a young woman by the name, Lena Simone. Lena was raised on the bayou by her grandmother Odette, who is also connected some how to the manor. The three new friends uncover a shocking secret that has been hidden there for more than 100 years.

I'm a huge fan of Nora Roberts, a bestselling American author of more than 209 romance novels. She writes as J.D. Robb for the In Death series and has also written under the pseudonym Jill March. Additionally, some of her works were published in the UK as Sarah Hardesty. So, I was not surprised when I saw her book made into a "made for TV movie", which was aired on the Lifetime television network.

In 2006, Dunaway played a character named Lois O'Neill in the sixth season of the crime drama CSI. She served as a judge on the 2005 reality show, The Starlet, looking to find the next young actress. In the spring of 2007, she was the direct-to-DVD movie release of Rain, based on the novel by V. C. Andrews. In 2009, Dunaway starred in The Bait by director and producer Dariusz Zawiślak..

Dunaway has been married twice, from 1974 to 1979 to Peter Wolf, the lead singer of the rock group J. Geils Band, and from 1984 to 1987 to Terry O'Neill, a British photographer.


  1. Dawn, this was a very comprehensive look at Faye Dunaway's career! My favorite of her performances were in BONNIE AND CLYDE (of course) and in Roman Polanski's modern noir classic CHINATOWN. But I also enjoyed her as the villainous Milady in Richard Lester's entertaining MUSKETEER movies. I admire the way that Faye Dunaway has kept working in the film business while many of her contemporaries bowed out when star roles no longer came their way. You made a great pick for this month's Cafe theme, Dawn.

  2. Very nice look at one of the 70's great actresses. Like Rick, I loved her in BONNIE AND CLDYE and CHINATOWN, also in NETWORK and the TV movie AFTER THE FALL. I also got to see her on stage in MASTER CLASS in 1997 or 1998 (It could not have been in 1996 since I did not move to Florida until '97 and saw her at The Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. She probably started the tour in '96 but it had to go into the following year). She was terrific to say the least. Terrific job here on a very fine actress.

  3. Very interesting,
    She's easily one of my favourite actresses, very charismatic...
    I loved her in Bonnie and Clyde, Chinatown and Network, she was also great in Little Big Man.

    I like your blog, very well setup and well written!

  4. Terrific spotlighting of Faye Dunaway! I've often thought she was underrated, and it's a shame that she's typically recognized only for her role in MOMMIE DEAREST. My favorite Faye Dunaway performance is in Polanski's CHINATOWN, but I also thought she was excellent in NETWORK and EYES OF LAURA MARS, the latter film which, like Ms. Dunaway herself, is underrated. Well written post, Dawn, and thank you for focusing on an actress who truly deserves our attention!

  5. Joan Crawford is right - Faye Dunaway certainly has the teeth for this business. Dunaway came out quite stridently against the casting of the remake of Bonnie and Clyde that is currently in the works. To be truthful, I agree with her assessment of the new leading lady.

  6. Thank you everyone for your wonderful comments. Also, Thank you Jack, for your comment about my blog. I really do not consider my self a creative writer, but.. I do love to learn and talk about classic movies. :)

    Java, I have not heard any of Dunaway's comments on the remake of Bonnie and Clyde. I will have to check it out.

  7. Dawn, you have written a lovely tribute to Faye Dunaway. She has taken some risky parts and made them uniquely hers. You did a great job selecting photos for your profile. I think Faye looks like a sixties' model and has a beautiful nose. Well done, Dawn!

  8. Dawn, this is a really nicely written tribute to Faye Dunaway. I have always thought she was so beautiful and has lovely hair. I loved her movies especially The Three and Four Musketeers, Eyes of Laura Mars, Thomas Crown Affair, and Bonnie and Clyde. I have to say she was great in The Towering Inferno which is no great movie but I have always liked it. She is famous for the dress she wore in it. I am a Nora Roberts fan and read her novels. I was excited to see her in some of the film adaptations of the the books you mentioned. I enjoyed your article.

  9. Toto and Aki, Thank you for your kind comments. I also like the film, Towering Inferno. Maybe, it will be on TCM soon.

  10. Dawn, I'm a little late commenting (I've been ill), and I hope you see this. You did a great job showcasing Faye and her work. My favorites are Network and Chinatown, and I will never forget the famous chess game seduction from Thomas Crown Affair! You know, I couldn't help but think that Faye was always a very uniquely beautiful woman, and I was upset when she got plastic surgery when she got older -- it totally changed her look, and I thought that was a shame. I know how hard it is for actresses to keep up when they get older, and it's too bad Faye felt this pressure. She will always be a favorite of mine. Good one, Dawn!