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Inside Move: Oscar: Fountain of Youth?

Study shows award-winning actors, directors live longer

Everyone knows that an Oscar winner’s obituary will start “Oscar-winning actor …” Science seems to be proving, however, that that Oscar win may actually delay the appearance of that obit.

According to a study by Donald Redelmeier, director of clinical epidemiology at Sunnybrook & Women’s College Health Sciences Center in Toronto, Oscar-winning directors live about two years longer than those who were thrilled just to be nominated. And multiple wins bring an even greater benefit.

Redelmeier’s research repeats similar findings from his study of actors two years ago: Movie stars who have won multiple awards have a survival advantage of 6.0 years. Oscar winners, on average, lived 79.7 years. Nominees lived 76.1 years. The never-nominated averaged 75.8 years.

It’s no surprise that higher social status improves longevity, and Oscar winners are pretty high up on the food chain — in Hollywood, anyway. Also, success breeds content and may relieve stress.

Of course, the converse is sometimes true. When he applied his method to screenwriters, Redelmeier discovered that Oscar-winning scribes die on average 3.6 years sooner than their nominated peers.

He suggests that the conflicting results may be due to the fact that an award-winning actor, or even director, has to keep up his or her appearance; writers, on the other hand, toil in obscurity and don’t have the same social pressure or help to maintain themselves. They do, however, face the challenge of writing that next hit script, meaning “you have to sacrifice yourself and push yourself that much harder,” Redelmeier said.

It’s always the writer who suffers.

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