Faye Dunaway: An Icon’s Enduring Legacy

Faye Dunaway stands as one of the few true legends of Hollywood, with a career that has left an indelible mark on cinema history. Her iconic portrayals of tough, complex, and often difficult women have solidified her place among the greatest performers in the industry. Even at the age of 82, Dunaway continues to captivate audiences with her talent and presence.

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Dunaway’s career boasts an impressive array of roles, from her twisted cry of “no more wire hangers!” in the cult classic “Mommie Dearest” to her memorable performances in films like “Hurry Sundown” alongside Michael Caine and her iconic role in “Bonnie and Clyde,” where she triumphed over Jane Fonda and Natalie Wood for the lead role. Born in Bascom, Florida, this talented actress has earned three Golden Globes and an Emmy, showcasing her immense talent and versatility.

Actress Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford on the set of Paramount Pictures movie ” Mommie Dearest” in 1981. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

“Mommie Dearest” (1981) remains one of the standout moments in Dunaway’s career. In this sensationalized film adaptation of Christina Crawford’s memoir, Dunaway portrayed legendary actress Joan Crawford. Her performance was so compelling that it left the crew on set stunned. Dunaway’s portrayal blurred the lines between reality and fiction, as she brought Joan Crawford back to life, both on and off the set. In fact, Dunaway once expressed her desire to “climb inside [Joan Crawford’s] skin,” a testament to the immersive nature of her performance.

The media even reported that Dunaway was haunted by Crawford’s spirit due to her hauntingly accurate portrayal. The Los Angeles Times even commented on Dunaway’s voice, suggesting that she had borrowed it “from the ghost of Joan Crawford.

However, despite her impressive career, Dunaway has shared her regrets about certain roles. She acknowledged that some portrayals may have shaped public perception of her in ways she didn’t intend. Her dedication to her craft sometimes led her down challenging paths, and she candidly admitted to not always realizing what she was getting into.

Throughout her career, Dunaway had the opportunity to work with some of Hollywood’s most iconic leading men, such as Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Kirk Douglas, and Johnny Depp. Despite the potential for romantic entanglements, Dunaway maintained a platonic approach to her relationships with co-stars. She firmly believed that pursuing romantic relationships on set could negatively impact performances and the overall quality of a film.

However, there was one exception to this rule. Marcello Mastroianni, the charismatic Italian actor, proved to be too tempting to resist. Their whirlwind affair mirrored the plot of their film “A Place for Lovers” (1968), in which Dunaway played a fashion designer involved with a race-car driver portrayed by Mastroianni. Their real-life love story, like the film’s plot, had its complications, ultimately ending when Mastroianni refused to leave his wife.

Despite the challenges of their relationship, Dunaway has spoken fondly of Mastroianni, describing him as a man like no other and someone who made her feel deeply protected.

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In her personal life, Dunaway’s relationships were often as dramatic as her on-screen roles. She married musician Peter Wolf, the lead singer of The J. Geils Band, in 1974, but the marriage ended in divorce five years later. Later, she engaged in an affair with famed British photographer Terry O’Neill while still married to Wolf. This affair was a significant part of her life, and O’Neill captured an iconic image of Dunaway sitting by a pool at The Beverly Hills Hotel with her Oscar from the film “Network” on the table beside her. Eventually, Dunaway and O’Neill married in 1983, and they had a son, Liam, born in 1980. Notably, Dunaway initially presented Liam as her biological son to the public before their divorce in 1987.

While Dunaway’s talent is undeniable, her reputation in Hollywood has been marred by reports of diva-like behavior, challenges on set, and difficult interactions with co-stars and crew members. In 2019, she was fired from her role as Audrey Hepburn in the off-Broadway production of “Tea at Five” due to creating a hostile environment. Similarly, in 1994, Andrew Lloyd Webber dropped her from his Los Angeles production of “Sunset Boulevard.”


Dunaway’s demanding and unpredictable demeanor earned her the nickname “gossamer grenade” from Jack Nicholson. Even the legendary Bette Davis, in an interview with Johnny Carson, labeled her as one of the worst people in Hollywood. Despite these challenges, Dunaway’s talent and impact on cinema remain undeniable.

In 1997, People magazine recognized her as one of the “50 Most Beautiful People,” and in 1996, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


Today, Faye Dunaway remains a single woman, but in a 2016 interview with People, she expressed her openness to dating and finding the right partner. Her most recent credit comes from 2022 when she starred alongside Kevin Spacey in the Italian movie “L’uomo che disegnò Dio.”

Faye Dunaway’s career has been marked by remarkable performances, complex relationships, and a reputation as one of Hollywood’s most enigmatic and talented stars. Whether channeling Joan Crawford or defying Hollywood norms, she continues to captivate audiences and leave an enduring legacy in the world of cinema. What are your thoughts on her portrayal of Joan Crawford in “Mommie Dearest” and her reported outbursts?

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