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Kate Winslet and Sam Mendes split: does it prove the existence of the Oscar curse?

16 MARCH 2010

It might sound strange, but could the world's most celebrated film award, the Oscar, be carrying a curse?

The announcement of her split from director Sam Mendes has seen Kate Winslet join an ever-lengthening list of stars who've seen their private lives fall apart shortly after scooping a coveted best actress statuette.

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It now seems that for many actresses, saying 'hello Oscar' is synonymous with saying 'goodbye' to their current love.

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Take Reese Witherspoon, for example. She separated from husband actor Ryan Phillippe after picking up a best actress statuette for her performance in Walk the Line in 2006. The pair, who have two children, had been together for seven years since falling in love on the set of 1999 flick Cruel Intentions.

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The same thing happened to the previous year's winner Hilary Swank. Her marriage to Chad Lowe, brother of actor Rob Lowe, had withstood the changes that her first Oscar for Boys Don't Cry had brought. But the second, for Million Dollar Baby, proved too much. Eleven months after she delivered a heartfelt thank you to her husband in her acceptance speech, their nine-year marriage was over. In an interview Hilary put the split down to Chad's addiction problems, though others noted that the disparity between the pairs' careers was also a contributing factor.

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In 2002, it was the turn of Halle Berry, who after winning for Monster’s Ball, separated from musician husband Eric Benet before their third wedding anniversary. Today the actress has found happiness again in the arms of Canadian model Gabriel Aubry, with whom she has a little girl, Nahla.


Meanwhile, in 2001, Julia Roberts found Oscar interfering in her relationship with actor Benjamin Bratt. Three months later, just as it seemed they were about to walk down the aisle together, they announced their separation. Happily, Julia has since found love again with cameraman Danny Moder, with whom she now has three children, Henry and twins Phinn and Hazel.

And one more marriage falling victim was that of 1998 winner Helen Hunt. After five years together, she and actor Hank Azaria decided to tie the knot following her win for As Good As It Gets, but their union lasted just 16 months.

Whether it's the stress of delivering a knockout performance or the new demands on a career that Oscar brings that's to blame, we can at least take heart in the fact that there are also many other best actress winners who haven't found themselves affected.

And as for this year's winner, Sandra Bullock, all we can do is hope that Oscar doesn't choose to strike again any time soon.

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