Oscar winners are more likely to live longer than their loser costars: study


And the winner is … a longer life!

Actors who win an Oscar are more likely to live longer than their un-nominated co-stars, according to a new peer-reviewed study published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Researchers from the University of Toronto created a model based on 2,111 actors from 1929 to 2020 who were nominated for the prestigious Academy Award or appeared opposite a nominated actor.

According to the data, actors who win an Oscar are more likely to live to about 81, while those who are only nominated — or, gasp, not nominated at all — are likely to live to about 76.

“Academy award winning actors and actresses show a positive association between success and survival, suggesting the importance of behavioral, psychological, or other modifiable health factors unrelated to poverty,” lead study author Donald Redelmeier reported.

The life expectancy of an Oscar winner has been the subject of debate for more than a decade after a 2006 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that winners do indeed live four years longer than their overlooked counterparts.

An example of the selection process used in the new study was Meryl “Queen of the Oscars” Streep, 72, who starred in and was nominated for the 1988 film “Ironweed.” However, four other female cast members in the same film were not nominated — including the late Margaret Whitton, who died at 67 in 2016.

Researchers at the University of Toronto have come up with several reasons why Oscar winners are more likely to live longer than their co-stars.
Shutterstock / LanKS

Of the 2,111 actors studied, 1,122 had died by July 1, 2020. Researchers did acknowledge within the study that life expectancy and living conditions had changed dramatically since the first award ceremony in 1929.

“The analysis replicated earlier findings from decades ago, showed a larger difference in life-expectancy than originally reported, and suggested the increased survival extends to analyses restricted to winners and nominees,” wrote Redelmeier and co-researcher Sheldon M. Singh.

“‘The increased life-expectancy was greater for individuals winning in recent years, at a younger age, and with multiple wins.”

The model shows that actors who have won an academy award (blue) live to about 81 while unnominated co-stars or people who lose (red) live till about 76.
PLOS ONE/ University of Toronto
The life expectancy of an Oscar winner — such as the double-fisting “Parasite” director Bong Joon Hoo — has been the subject of debate for several years after a prior study dropped in 2006.
Rachel Luna/Getty Images

There is no official reason for the difference in longevity the researchers of the study do have several theories.

“Winners tend to eat properly, exercise consistently, sleep regularly, avoid drug misuse, and follow the ideals of a prudent life-style that bring more gains with adherence,” the study found.

Other researchers believe that there is a psychological component involved.

“Academy award winners may be able to avoid some stress through more control and less aggravation when encountering an obstacle,” they wrote. “The award, in particular, could soften a humiliating rejection or insulting review by preserving peace-of-mind and helping to buffer the hypothalamic-pituitary stress responses.”

Researchers also noted that they will continue to look into the matter and hope that their findings will help unravel the mystery so everyone might enjoy a longer life.