Dunaway, Faye 1941–
DUNAWAY, Faye 1941–
Full name, Dorothy Faye Dunaway; born January 14, 1941, in Bascom, FL; daughter of John MacDowell Dunaway (a career army officer) and Grace April (a homemaker; maiden name, Smith) Dunaway Hartshorn; married Peter Wolf (a singer), August 7, 1974 (divorced, c. 1978); married Terrence "Terry" O'Neill (a photographer), 1983 (divorced, c. 1987); children: (second marriage) Liam. Education: Boston University, B.F.A., 1962; attended Florida State University and University of Florida; trained with Lincoln Center Repertory Theater, New York City. Religion: Roman Catholicism. Avocational Interests: Reading.
Addresses: Agent—Nevin Dolcefino, Innovative Artists, 1505 10th St., Santa Monica, CA 90401. Manager— Hillard Elkins, Elkins Entertainment, 8306 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 438, Beverly Hills, CA 90211; David Herd, Teitelbaum Artists Group, 8840 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211.
Career: Actress, director, producer, and writer. Lincoln Center Repertory Company, New York City, member of original company. Ford Agency, worked as a model; appeared in commercials, including spots for WE (Women's Entertainment) cable television network, 2001. As a beauty pageant contestant, named the Sweetheart of Sigma Chi and competed in the Miss University of Florida pageant. Also worked as a waitress.
Awards, Honors: Offered (but declined) Fulbright scholarship to study in London, 1960s; Theatre World Award, 1966, for Hogan's Goat; named discovery of the year, Hollywood Women's Press Club, 1967; Golden Laurel Award nominations, Producers Guild of America, female new face, 1967, and female star, 1968; Golden Laurel Award, female dramatic performance, Academy Award nomination, best actress, and Golden Globe Award nomination, best actress in a motion picture drama, all 1968, for Bonnie and Clyde; Film Award, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, most promising newcomer to film, 1968, for Bonnie and Clyde and Hurry Sundown; Golden Globe Award nomination, most promising female newcomer in a film, 1968, for Hurry Sundown; Golden Laurel Award nomination, female star, 1970; Golden Globe Award nomination, best motion picture actress in a drama, 1971, for Puzzle of a Downfall Child; named woman of the year, Hasty Pudding Theatricals, Harvard University, 1974; named star of the year, National Association of Theatre Owners, 1974; Academy Award nomination, Golden Globe Award nomination, and Film Award nomination, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, all best actress, 1975, for Chinatown; Golden Globe Award nomination, best actress in a motion picture drama, 1976, for Three Days of the Condor; Academy Award and Golden Globe Award, both best actress, 1977, David di Donatello Award, best foreign actress, 1977, and Film Award, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, best actress, 1978, all for Network; Golden Globe Award, best actress in a supporting role in a series, miniseries, or motion picture made for television, 1985, for Ellis Island; Golden Globe Award nomination, best actress in a dramatic film, 1988, for Barfly; Emmy Award nomination, outstanding guest actress in a drama, and Golden Globe Award nomination, best actress in a television miniseries or movie, both 1994, for Columbo: It's All in the Game; Lifetime Achievement Award, Showest Convention, National Association of Theatre Owners, 1995; Gemini Award nomination, Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, best performance by an actress in a guest role in a dramatic series, 1996, for "What a Tangled Web We Weave," Avonlea; received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, 1996; Sarah Siddons Award, 1996–97, for Master Class; named one of "the top 100 movie stars of all time," Empire magazine, Great Britain, 1997; Annual CableACE Award nomination, National Cable Television Association, best supporting actress in a movie or miniseries, 1997, and Screen Actors Guild Award nomination, outstanding performance by an actress in a television movie or miniseries, 1998, both for The Twilight of the Golds; Golden Globe Award and Golden Satellite Award nomination, International Press Academy, both best supporting actress in a television series, miniseries, or movie, 1999, for Gia; Golden Globe Award nomination, best supporting actress in a series, miniseries, or motion picture made for television, 2001, for Running Mates; Career Achievement Award, Chicago International Film Festival, 2001.
Bonnie Parker, Bonnie and Clyde (also known as Bonnie and Clyde … Were Killers!), Warner Bros., 1967.
Lou McDowell, Hurry Sundown, Paramount, 1967.
Sandy, The Happening, Columbia, 1967.
Vicky Anderson, The Thomas Crown Affair (also known as The Crown Caper and Thomas Crown and Company), United Artists, 1968.
Gwen, The Arrangement, Warner Bros., 1969.
Jennifer Winslow, The Extraordinary Seaman, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer, 1969.
Julia, A Place for Lovers (also known as Amanti and Le temps des amants), Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer, 1969.
Lou Andreas Sand, Puzzle of a Downfall Child, Universal, 1970.
Mrs. Louise Pendrake/Lulu Kane, Little Big Man, National General, 1970.
Katie Elder, Doc, United Artists, 1971.
Jill, The Deadly Trap (also known as Death Scream, The House under the Trees, La maison sous les arbes, and Unico indizio: Una sciarpa gialla), National General, 1972.
Lena Doyle, Oklahoma Crude, Columbia, 1973.
Milady de Winter, The Three Musketeers (also known as The Three Musketeers: The Queen's Diamonds and Los tres mosqueteros), Twentieth Century–Fox, 1973.
Evelyn Cross Mulwray, Chinatown, Paramount, 1974.
Susan Franklin, The Towering Inferno, Twentieth Century–Fox/Warner Bros., 1974.
Kathy Hale, Three Days of the Condor, Paramount, 1975.
Lady de Winter, The Four Musketeers (also known as The Four Musketeers: Milady's Revenge and The Revenge of Milady), Twentieth Century–Fox, 1975.
Denise Kreisler, The Voyage of the Damned, Avco–Embassy, 1976.
Diana Christensen, Network, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer/United Artists, 1976.
Laura Mars, Eyes of Laura Mars, Columbia, 1978.
Annie, The Champ, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer/United Artists, 1979.
Barbara Delany, The First Deadly Sin, Filmways, 1980.
Joan Crawford (title role), Mommie Dearest, Paramount, 1981.
Lady Barbara Skelton, The Wicked Lady, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer/United Artists, 1983.
Rachel Calgary (some sources cite Rachel Argyle), Ordeal by Innocence, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer/United Artists, 1984.
Selena, Supergirl (also known as Supergirl: The Movie), TriStar, 1984.
Wanda Wilcox, Barfly, Cannon, 1987.
Countess Von Wallenstein, La partita (also known as The Gamble), 1988.
Helen Barton, Midnight Crossing, Vestron, 1988.
Mrs. Colber (some sources cite Joan Colbert), In una notte di chiaro di luna (also known as As Long as It's Love, Clair, Crystal or Ash, Fire or Wind, as Long as It's Love, and On a Moonlit Night), 1989.
Mrs. Effie Hildegarde, Wait until Spring, Bandini (also known as Bandini, John Fante's Wait until Spring, Bandini, Aspetta primavera Bandini, and Le ragioni del cuore), 1989.
Mrs. Sonya Tuchman, Burning Secret (also known as Brennendes Geheimnis), 1989.
Helmut Newton: Frames from the Edge (documentary; also known as Frames from the Edge), 1989.
Serena Joy, The Handmaid's Tale (also known as Die Geschichte der Dienerin), Cinecom, 1990.
Voice of Evelyn Cross Mulwray, The Two Jakes, Paramount, 1990.
Elaine Stalker, The Arrowtooth Waltz (also known as Arizona Dream), 1991.
Thais, Scorchers, Fox Video, 1992.
Faye Milano, Double Edge (also known as Three Weeks in Jerusalem, Lahav Hatzui, and Shlosha Shavuot B'Yerushalaim), Castle Hill, 1992.
Charlene Towne, The Temp, Paramount, 1993.
(Uncredited) Unzipped (documentary), Miramax, 1995.
Janet Boudreaux, Albino Alligator, Miramax, 1996.
Lee Bowen Cayhall, The Chamber, Universal, 1996.
Mrs. Dubrow, Dunstan Checks In, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1996.
The countess, In Praise of Older Women (also known as En brazos de la mujer madura), 1997.
The psychiatrist, The Thomas Crown Affair, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer, 1999.
Love Lies Bleeding, TriPictures, 1999.
Kitty Olchin, The Yards, Miramax, 2000.
Leila, Stanley's Gig, Left Hook Productions, 2000.
Herself, Festival in Cannes, Paramount, 2001.
Betty Miller, Changing Hearts, PorchLight Entertainment, 2002.
Blue/mother, Mid–Century, Electric Sandbox Productions, 2002.
Mrs. Eve Denton, The Rules of Attraction (also known as Die Regeln des Spiels), Lions Gate Films, 2002.
Mae West, The Calling (also known as Man of Faith), Sabeva Film Distribution, 2002.
(Uncredited; in archive footage from the film Chinatown) The Kid Stays in the Picture (documentary), Focus Features, 2002.
Attorney general Navarro, El Padrino, Heartless Films, 2004.
God, Love Hollywood Style, Stein Media, 2004.
Kathleen Dolan, Ghosts Never Sleep, Kill Switch/More East to Go Films, 2004.
Mary Ellen Cassi, Jennifer's Shadow, 2004.
Ms. K, Blind Horizon, Lions Gate Films, 2004.
Sean Winston, Last Goodbye, POP Films, 2004.
Television Appearances; Series:
Laura Scofield, It Had to Be You (also known as Marry Me Anyway), CBS, 1993.
Television Appearances; Miniseries:
Eva "Evita" Duarte Peron, Evita Peron, NBC, 1981.
Maud Charteris, Ellis Island, CBS, 1984.
Queen Isabella, Christopher Columbus (also known as Cristoforo Colombo), CBS, 1985.
Voice of Gaia, Voice of the Planet, TBS, 1991.
Margaret Sanger, A Will of Their Own (also known as Daughters of the New World), 1998.
Television Appearances; Movies:
Wallis Warfield Simpson, The Woman I Love, ABC, 1971.
Sister Aimee Semple McPhearson, The Disappearance of Aimee, NBC, 1976.
Jan Wilkinson (Lady Edgeware) and Carlotta Adams, Agatha Christie's "Thirteen at Dinner" (also known as Thirteen at Dinner), CBS, 1985.
Lil Hutton, Beverly Hills Madam (also known as Ladies of the Night), NBC, 1986.
Madame D'Urfe, Casanova (also known as Il veneziano, vita, e amori di Giacomo Casanova), CBS, 1987.
Raspberry Ripple, Arts and Entertainment, 1987.
Miss Love Simpson Blakeslee, Cold Sassy Tree, TNT, 1989.
Samantha Kimball, Silhouette, USA Network, 1990.
Lauren Black (some sources cite Laura Staton), Columbo: It's All in the Game (also known as Two Women and a Dead Man), ABC, 1993.
Karen Billingsley, A Family Divided (also known as Mother Love), NBC, 1995.
Becky, Drunks, Showtime, 1996.
Ellen Morse, The People Next Door, CBS, 1996.
Phyllis Gold, The Twilight of the Golds, Showtime, 1997.
Wilhelmina Cooper, Gia, HBO, 1998.
Meg Gable, Running Mates, TNT, 2000.
Aurora Beavis, Yellow Bird, WE (Women's Entertainment), 2001.
Amanda Washington, The Biographer (also known as The Biographer: The Secret Life of Princess Di), CBS, 2002.
Tina, Back When We Were Grownups, CBS, 2004.
Television Appearances; Specials:
Kathleen Stanton, "Hogan's Goat," NET Playhouse, NET (now PBS), 1971.
Maggie, After the Fall, NBC, 1974.
Herself, Arthur Miller: On Home Ground, 1979.
The Sensational, Shocking, Wonderful, Wacky '70s, NBC, 1980.
(In archive footage) Sixty Years of Seduction, 1981.
Georgie Elgin, The Country Girl, Showtime, 1982.
Host, Supergirl—The Making of the Movie, ABC, 1985.
Host, Inside the Dream Factory, TCM, 1995.
Mrs. Van Hopper, "Rebecca," Masterpiece Theatre, PBS, 1997.
(Uncredited; in archive footage) Warner Bros. 75th Anniversary: No Guts, No Glory, 1998.
Herself, Academy Awards Pre–Show, E! Entertainment Television, 1999.
Narrator, Thailand: Jewel of the Orient, PBS, 2000.
(In archive footage) 101 Biggest Celebrity Oops, E! Entertainment Television, 2004.
Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:
The 49th Annual Academy Awards, 1977.
Presenter, The 34th Annual Tony Awards, 1980.
The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts, CBS, 1988.
The 11th Annual ACE Awards, multiple networks, 1990.
The 47th Annual Golden Globe Awards, TBS, 1990.
Presenter, The 48th Annual Golden Globe Awards, TBS, 1991.
The 65th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1993.
Host, The 51st Annual Golden Globe Awards, TBS, 1994.
Presenter, The 48th Annual Tony Awards, CBS, 1994.
The American Film Institute Salute to Steven Spielberg, NBC, 1995.
Presenter, The 53rd Annual Golden Globe Awards, NBC, 1996.
The American Film Institute Salute to Clint Eastwood, 1996.
Presenter, The 54th Annual Golden Globe Awards, NBC, 1997.
Presenter, The 55th Golden Globe Awards, NBC, 1998.
Screen Actors Guild Fourth Annual Awards, TNT, 1998.
The 70th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1998.
Herself, The Orange British Academy Film Awards, 2000.
(Uncredited) The 72nd Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 2000.
Television Appearances; Episodic:
Alexis Webster, "The 34th Man," Seaway, syndicated, 1965.
Myra, "The 10–Foot, 6–Inch Pole," The Trials of O'Brien, CBS, 1966.
CHiPs, NBC, 1982.
Guest, Good Morning America (also known as GMA), ABC, 1988.
Countess Polenska, "What a Tangled Web We Weave," Avonlea (also known as The Road to Avonlea), CBC and The Disney Channel, 1995.
Guest, The Late Show with David Letterman, CBS, 1995.
Voice, Tekwar, syndicated, 1995.
Herself, Inside the Actors Studio, Bravo, c. 1995.
The Entertainment Business, Bravo, 1998.
Dr. Rebecca Markham, "Shallow Water: Parts 1 & 2," Touched by an Angel, CBS, 2001.
Ariana Kane, "The Abduction," Alias, ABC, 2002.
Katherine Burke, "Tonight at Noon," Soul Food, Show-time, 2002.
Ariana Kane, "The Getaway," Alias, ABC, 2003.
Ariana Kane, "A Higher Echelon," Alias, ABC, 2003.
Guest, "Wetten, dass …? aus Karlsruhe," Wetten, dass …?, 2003.
Television Appearances; Pilots:
Shin, Anonymous Rex, Sci–Fi Channel, 2004.
Cooking Lessons, CBS, 2004.
Television Work; Movies:
Executive producer, Cold Sassy Tree, TNT, 1989.
(With others) Executive producer, Silhouette, USA Network, 1990.
Director and producer, Yellow Bird, WE (Women's Entertainment), 2001.
Margaret More, A Man for All Seasons, American National Theatre and Academy, New York City, 1962.
Beatrice's maid, The Changeling, American National Theatre and Academy, Washington Square Theatre, New York City, 1964.
Faith Prosper, But for Whom, Charlie, American National Theatre and Academy, Washington Square Theatre, 1964.
Nurse, then Elsie, After the Fall, American National Theatre and Academy, Washington Square Theatre, 1964–1965.
Kathleen Stanton, Hogan's Goat, American Place Theatre, New York City, 1965.
Tartuffe, American National Theatre and Academy, Washington Square Theatre, 1965.
Candida, summer theatre production, 1971.
Old Times, Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles, 1972.
Blanche du Bois, A Streetcar Named Desire, Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles, 1973.
Frances Anna Duffy Walsh, The Curse of an Aching Heart, Little Theatre (now Helen Hayes Theatre), New York City, 1982.
Circe and Bravo, London production, 1986.
Maria Callas, Master Class, Boston, MA, 1996.
Maria Callas, Master Class, U.S. cities, 1996–1997.
(In archive footage) Oscar's Greatest Moments, 1992.
Landlady and agent, "Into the Great Wide Open," by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, 1991.
Yellow Bird, WE (Women's Entertainment), 2001.
(With Betsy Sharkey) Looking for Gatsby (autobiography; also known as Looking for Gatsby: My Life), Simon & Schuster, 1995.
Hunter, Allen, Faye Dunaway, St. Martin's Press, 1986.
International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 3: Actors and Actresses, 4th edition, St. James Press, 2000.
Cable TV, January, 1998, pp. 22–23.
Empire, October, 1997, p. 198.
Entertainment Weekly, October 8, 1993; February 22, 2002, pp. 72–73.
Esquire, August, 1999, pp. 110–11.
Fame, April, 1990.
Harper's Bazaar, September, 1989.
Hollywood Reporter, October 28, 1994, pp. 1, 38.
Interview, February, 1993; November, 2002, pp. 94–96.
Ladies Home Journal, March, 1990.
Los Angeles Times, June 18, 1997.
Movieline, September, 1998, p. 92; June, 2002, pp. 70–73, 91.
People Weekly, May 8, 1995, p. 227.
Premiere, October, 1996, p. 34.
TV Guide, October 14, 1989.
USA Today, November 7, 1995.
Variety, June 27, 1994.
Vogue, March, 1988.
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.