Friday, June 15, 2012

Famous Floridian Friday - Academy Award Winning Actress Faye Dunaway

From her bleak childhood of poverty to international fame as a cool beauty, Faye Dunaway has had the  ride of a lifetime thanks her talent as an actress.   

Born on January 14, 1941 in the far northern reaches of Jackson County, Florida near the Alabama border, American actress Faye Dunaway was given the birth name of Dorothy Faye Dunaway.  Her father John MacDowell Dunaway, worked as a noncommissioned officer in the United States Army, and her mother Grace April Dunaway, was a young homemaker.  Faye has one sibling, a younger brother named  MacDowell Dunaway, who grew up to be a Washington attorney.

Dunaway House - now derelict
A native of the tiny hamlet of Two Egg, Florida, (which carries the postmark of Bascom, Florida), Dunaway’s hardscrabble childhood could be called tumultuous at best; and often rang of bleak  deprivation.

 Born prematurely, she weighed only 4 pounds at birth and her survival was touch and go in the early days. 

She was the first born child of young parents struggling and barely able to get by.  Dad was moved around a lot and had a philandering character; mom was a devoted Methodist housewife who loved her hometown.  It wasn’t a happy marriage.

Jackson County, FL & Two Egg / Bascom
Faye’s childhood saw her shuffled between grandparents’ homes in Two Egg, and Army Bases in Florida, Texas, Utah and Germany where John Dunaway was transferred. 

At 13, her parents divorced.  Grace Dunaway and the children came back to live on the north Florida farm of her grandparents.  John Dunaway stayed in the Army and later remarried.  Grace wouldn’t remarry until 1967.

Faye attended Leon High School in Tallahassee, Florida and graduated in 1958.  Her mother, the person who instilled in her children to always do their best, harbored the hope that Faye would marry her high school sweetheart and settle in the Bascom area.  But the Dunaway children had high ambitions, and Faye had a strong mind of her own. Dunaway packed up her things, moved to Gainesville, and enrolled at the University of Florida.  She began as an education major, but the love of the theater found her.

When the opportunity arose, Dunaway moved to Boston University's School of Fine and Applied Arts in order to study drama.  It’s here where she met a teacher who passed on what became Dunaway’s guide in life.  "If anything can stop you," she told Dunaway, "let it."

Dunaway returned once again to the University of Florida to graduate, receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree for Theater Studies from the school in 1962.

Within days of graduation, Dunaway found herself with two wonderful offers but with the opportunity to choose just one.  First, she was to be given a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship which would enable her study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts.   Second, she was offered a role in the inaugural Broadway production of "A Man For All Seasons" as a member of the American National Theatre and Academy.  She couldn’t do both—she would have to decide which offer to take. 

Faye chose Broadway.  At 21 years of age and less than 30 days after graduation, Faye Dunaway was a member of the original Broadway cast of “A Man For All Seasons,” which stareed Paul Scofield.   She would stay with the production for two years.

Three years later she won critical acclaim for her role in William Alfred’s Hogan’s Goat in 1965.    Television and film debuts followed shortly thereafter with

Dunaway was first seen on television in the series "Seaway" in 1965, then appeared in a couple small budget films. 

In 1967, Faye Dunaway had a meteoric rise to stardom through her Oscar-nominated role as a Depression-era bank-robber in the classic film “Bonnie and Clyde”, starring opposite Warren Beatty.

Overnight the film made her a 1960’s icon.  Thanks to her role, Dunaway found herself influencing American culture at the time in both style and dress.

The film also made her a much in-demand actress.

She would go on to work with some of the period’s greatest film actors, including Steve McQueen, Jack Nicholson, Charleton Heston, Tommy Lee Jones, Robert Redford, and Paul Newman.


Dunaway was to be Oscar-nominated again for her role as the mysterious woman in the movie Chinatown, and would win the Oscar for Best Actress in her role as a ruthless TV executive in the film Network.  She also did acclaimed work in The Thomas Crown Affair, Little Big Man and Three Days of the Condor. 


But Dunaway also made some poor decisions.  She turned down roles that would later make other actresses’ careers.

For example:   

Movies Turned Down by Faye Dunaway in one manner or another

Anne of the Thousand Days – went to Genevieve Bujold

Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice – went to Dyan Cannon

Cabaret – went to Liza Minnelli

Diamonds Are Forever – James Bond film - went to Jill St. John

Duet for One (play) – went to Julie Andrews

Family Plot – Hitchcock film - went to Karen Black

Fatal Attraction – went to Glenn Close

Fun with Dick and Jane  - went to Jane Fonda

The Great Gatsby – went to Mia Farrow

Julia – went to Vanessa Redgrave

Klute – went to Jane Fonda

Night Moves – went to Jennifer Warren

Norma Rae – went to Sally Field

Octopussy – James Bond film – went to Maud Adams

Rosemary's Baby – went to Mia Farrow

The Wind and the Lion – went to Candice Bergen

She took embarrassing roles such as the dominatrix of Supergirl, the scheming Queen of France in The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, and an unfortunate move as Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest.  Mommie Dearest became her Achilles heel.  For it she received a “Razzie Award” as the Worst Actress of the year, and she credits the film for ruining her career.   

After receiving such poor reviews for Mommy Dearest, and despite the movie making a modest profit, Hollywood soured on Dunaway.  She left for England to live with her husband at the time, where she continued to work in small films which unfortunately received little attention.

In 1987, she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama for her performance in Barfly with Mickey Rourke, which the critics loved as well.  She later co-starred in the movie Don Juan DeMarco with Johnny Depp and Marlon Brando in 1995.

Faye Dunaway continued her work on stage and toured nationally with Master Class in 1996 and  Requiem for a Dream in 2000.  

On the small screen, Dunaway turned down a starring role on producer Aaron Spelling’s television show The Colby’s, which became a hit evening drama in the 1980’s, but then acted in the 1986 made-for-television movie Beverly Hills Madam. 

In 1993, Dunaway briefly starred in two sitcoms, It Had to Be You and in Arizona Dream, which were short-lived.   She won an Emmy for a 1994 guest role on Columbo.  She was a reality star judge on The Starlet in 2005.  In 2006 was in an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and in 2009 she appeared on Grey’s Anatomy.

Faye Dunaway’s career acting awards include:
  •     Oscar for Best Actress 1977 for Network
  •     Golden Globe 1977 for Network
  •     Golden Globe 1985 for Ellis Island (miniseries)
  •     Emmy 1994 for Columbo: It's All In the Game
In 1995, Dunaway published her autobiography, Looking for Gatsby, and co-written with Betsey Sharkley.

She received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on October 2, 1996. 

The Reputation That Precedes Her

Faye Dunaway has a reputation for being demanding, temperamental, combative and difficult to work with people while on set, and dismissive and superior towards others while in the outside world.  Dunaway has never been one who was afraid to make a scene or demand special treatment.  Everyone from airline personnel to international reporters have diva stories to tell about Dunaway.

Jack Nicholson, no shrinking violet himself, famously gave Dunaway the nickname, "Dread".   

Legendary actress Bette Davis minced no words during a 1988 appearance on The Johnny Carson Show.  Davis told Carson emphatically that she would never agree to work with Dunaway again. 

Andrew Lloyd Webber fired Dunaway from the lead in his 1994 Los Angeles stage production of Sunset Boulevard, just days before its opening saying she simply could not deliver what he demanded.   In response, Dunaway sued Webber for $6,000,000, and lost.

In 2009, she started a tiff with Hilary Duff after she questioned Duff's acting talent.  In 2011, she was nearly evicted from her New York apartment by her landlord before sidestepping  legal action by giving up the rent controlled apartment. 

In 2012, The New York Times and The Village Voice both ran stories about a disturbance involving Faye Dunaway at a Greenwich Village theatrical bookstore known for its wide acceptance and tolerance of unique individuals among its patrons.  The bookstore called in the authorities to deal with Dunaway, who was dressed like an indigent at the time.

Dunaway’s Personal life

By her own account, Faye Dunaway’s early success as a Broadway stage actress put her in touch with many famous men with whom she had love affairs.

In 1963, she engaged in a liaison with comedian Lenny Bruce.  From 1966 to 1968, she dated film director Jerry Schatzberg, from 1968 to 1970 actor Marcello Mastroianni, and from 1970 to 1972, she dated actor Harris Yulin.

In 1974, Faye married Peter Wolf, who was lead singer of The J. Geils Band. They divorced in 1979 with no children.

In 1984, Dunaway marries for a second time.  This time her husband is the British fashion and celebrity photographer, Terry O’Neill.  Dunaway and O’Neill divorce in 1987.  They have one child, Liam Walker Dunaway O’Neill, born in 1980. 

In 2003, despite the fact that for 23 years Faye Dunaway had claimed to have given birth to her son, Terry O’Neill announced that Liam was adopted by the pair.  Liam O’Neill is an actor who has worked in The Last Goodbye, The Confession, Al’s Beef, and The Master Class.

Today, Faye Dunaway splits her time living between New York City and Los Angeles.

Roads of Two Egg, Florida

The Little Florida Towns of Two Egg and Bascom

Two Egg, Florida is indeed a true community.  It is located in Jackson County near the Northern border of Florida just South of the Alabama line.  The nearest town of any size is Marianna. 

The unique name of the hamlet dates back to the Great Depression.   Sugar was very expensive at the time, and poverty didn’t allow folks in the area much purchasing power.   Residents would often trade two eggs and receive in return a small amount of sugar from the local general store.

 A traveling salesman coined the term “Two Egg” after disparagingly describing the store and its patrons to outsiders.  The nickname stuck.  The name Two Egg was officially recorded on a State of Florida map in 1940.

You Can Read More on Two Egg, Florida Right Here

Bascom, Florida Post Office

Bascom is a neighboring village also in Jackson County.

The population count for Bascom in the year 2000 was 106, and the town was 100% white. 

According to the United States Census Bureau, Bascom consists of a total area of 0.25 square miles of land
and is located 5 miles south of the Alabama border.

Both Two Egg and Bascom claim to be the hometown of Faye Dunaway.  The area historian  reasons that Bascom is often listed because all Two Egg residents have a Bascom postal address.  Dunaway relatives continue to have roots in Two Egg.

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