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.