Faye Dunaway Profile
Taking on the role of Crawford in Mommie Dearest (1981), Dunaway was all too successful in capturing her predecessor's stony image and tendency toward campy melodrama. Audiences laughed at what originally had been intended as a serious adaptation of adopted daughter Christina Crawford's book about life with an overbearing and abusive mother; the movie became a cult favorite for all the wrong reasons. Dunaway has acknowledged that her career never quite recovered from this exercise in Grand Guignol, but she has plowed doggedly ahead and remains active in television productions and feature films such as the recent releases Flick (2007) and Dr. Fugazzi (2008).
Dunaway was born in Bascom, Florida, on January 14, 1941. After attending the University of Florida and other universities, she joined the American National Theater and Academy. By 1962 she had won a role on Broadway as the daughter of Sir Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons. After some TV work she made her film debut in Hurry Sundown (1967), but it was her iconic performance as Bonnie Parker in Bonnie and Clyde that same year that made her a star and brought her first of three Oscar® nominations.
More strong roles followed in The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), a stylish crime caper with Steve McQueen; Little Big Man (1970), an unusual Western with Dustin Hoffman; Three Days of the Condor (1975), a thriller with Robert Redford; Voyage of the Damned (1976), the true story of an ocean liner overcrowded with condemned Jewish refugees circa 1939; and Eyes of Laura Mars (1978), a thriller with Tommy Lee Jones.
After Mommie Dearest Dunaway spent much of the 1980s working in television, winning critical praise and Emmy and Golden Globe nominations and awards for several of her performances. She made a feature-film comeback in Barfly (1987), delivering a strong, unadorned performance as an alcoholic. Other highlights of Dunaway's later career have included Don Juan DeMarco (1995), a charming romantic comedy with Marlon Brando and Johnny Depp; and the Showtime movie The Twilight of the Golds (1997), for which she was nominated for a Cable ACE award.
Dunaway has been married twice, to rock musician Peter Wolf, lead singer of the J. Geils Band, and photographer Terry O'Neill, with whom she had one child, Liam O'Neill, born in 1980.
by Roger Fristoe