One-Hit Oscar Wonders: From Cuba Gooding Jr. to Mira Sorvino
1:46 PM PST 3/1/2014 by Shawn Kotzen, Chris Godley
There's nothing like an Oscar nomination to give an actor's career a boost — but even winning one of those coveted statuettes offers no guarantees. Here are 20 performers who've benefited from some Academy love over the years, yet haven't found their way to the red carpet since.
After winning the award for best supporting actor, Cuba Gooding Jr. let loose one of the most exuberant celebratory speeches in Oscars history. However, not for lack of effort (see: Boat Trip), Hollywood was never able to "show him the money" and spin his gold into box-office dollars.
Round Midnight (1987)
As a celebrated jazz great, it wasn't a stretch for Dexter "Long Tall Dex" Gordon to play a musician in his first major role in a feature film. Although he didn't take home the best actor Oscar, he did pick up a Grammy that year for the film's soundtrack. He also managed to land a small role alongside Robin Williams and Robert De Niro in Awakenings right before his untimely death in 1990.
Eva Le Gallienne
One of the most revered stage performers of her time, Eva Le Gallienne received an honorary Tony Award in 1964 celebrating her 50 years as an actress. But her stage success didn't exactly translate to the big screen. That is, until her best supporting actress nomination in 1981 for Resurrection -- her first film in 20 years. At the time, she had the distinction of being the oldest nominee ever at 82 years old -- a mark which has since been surpassed.
Haing S. Ngor
The Killing Fields (1985)
At the time, Haing S. Ngor set a precedent by becoming only the second non-professional Oscar winner (he won for best supporting actor) in history. He was also the second-ever winner to be of Asian descent. The Cambodian-born former physician's career never had the opportunity to thrive, however, as Ngor was murdered by an L.A. street gang during a robbery attempt in 1996 with only a handful of distinguished performances under his belt.
Howard E. Rollins Jr.
After a promising start to his career -- including a best supporting actor nod and a starring role in A Soldier's Story --Howard E. Rollins Jr. landed a plum role as lead detective Virgil Tubbs in the hit television adaptation of In the Heat of the Night. Nevertheless, his demons finally got the best of him as his career came to a halt when he was booted off the show after multiple drug- and alcohol-related arrests. Tragically, he passed away from AIDS-related complications in 1996.
At age 16, in only his second film, Jack Wild received a best supporting actor nomination for his role as cheeky scene-stealer the Artful Dodger. Wild's early success did not lead to movie stardom but did win him some television work. He ended up securing the lead in Sid and Marty Krofft's bizarre kiddie show H.R. Pufnstuf, as well as a guest appearance on the equally popular (and weird) Sigmund and the Sea Monsters.
The Crying Game (1993)
While working as a fashion assistant, Jaye Davidson was discovered at a party and cast to play an enigmatic transgender woman in the most talked-about movie of that year. The reclusive and reluctant star went on to appear in only one additional film following his best supporting actor nod -- 1994's sci-fi epic Stargate. Since then, this poster boy for androgyny has fled Hollywood and returned to the fashion world.
Going from American Idol to shiny, golden idol, this vivacious vocalist shocked the world and showed she had the chops as well as the lungs. In her cinematic debut, she turned in an assured performance in this Broadway musical turned big screen hit. However, since winning the best supporting actress trophy, she's taken on a string of less prestigious acting projects (The Three Stooges, anyone?) while her recording career has flourished.
Although Jocelyne LaGarde barely spoke a word of English at the time of her hire (she mostly spoke Tahitian and French), this 300-pound Polynesian woman's performance as Queen Malama Kanakoa managed to impress audiences and critics enough to snag her a best supporting actress nomination in her one and only feature film role.
Kramer vs. Kramer (1980)
Justin Henry still has the distinction of being the youngest ever Academy Award nominee after he picked up a best supporting actor nod at age 8; in the film he held his own alongside Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep. Though his career never truly took off, he did put in a memorable turn as Molly Ringwald's annoying little bro in cult fave Sixteen Candles. Classic.
Whale Rider (2004)
In her film debut at age 13, Keisha Castle-Hughes became the youngest best actress nominee in Oscar history. That is, until Quvenzhane Wallis took over that distinction as an 8-year-old nominee last year. Since her record-setting role, she's had minor parts in such films Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, as well as appearances in various TV shows and low-budget flicks, but has yet to duplicate that early success.
The Turning Point (1979)
Leslie Browne was a world-class ballet dancer who turned her debut role (as a would-be world-class ballet dancer) into an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress. Unlike her co-star Mikhail Baryshnikov, the role did not translate into future Hollywood success and she pirouetted right out of the spotlight. She did, however, reunite with Baryshnikov for one final turn in 1987's Dancers.
The Year of Living Dangerously (1984)
This diminutive actress (she's 4'9") holds the distinction of being the first and only performer to win an Oscar (best supporting actress) while playing a (non-transgender) member of the opposite sex. After her performance as Chinese-Australian photographer Billy Kwan in only her second feature film, Hunt's career since has consisted of quite a few voiceover jobs and niche roles and, most visibly, five seasons on NCIS: Los Angeles.
Children of a Lesser God (1987)
To this day, Marlee Matlin remains one of the most unlikely and inspirational performers to ever win an Oscar. Taking home the best actress award in her debut role, she is both the youngest winner in history and the only deaf woman to ever triumph as well. Although she's been blessed with a long, productive acting career, her potential to become a leading lady on the silver screen never quite materialized.
The Fisher King (1992)
Most moviegoers remember Mercedes Ruehl as Tom Hanks' worried-sick mother in Big. However, it was her turn as the grounded, video-store-owning wife of shock jock Jeff Bridges in Terry Gilliam's madcap masterpiece The Fisher King that won her an award for best supporting actress. Since then, her career has consisted mostly of TV show appearances and minor roles in small films.
The Turning Point (1979)
He will no doubt go down as one of the most adored ballet dancers in history … and he has proved he's not a bad actor, either. After garnering a best supporting actor nomination, Mikhail Baryshnikov hasn't been in too many movies since. Nevertheless, he did manage to snag both a Tony Award and a recurring role as Carrie Bradshaw's artsy Russian boyfriend in HBO's Sex and the City during a surprisingly active acting career.
Mighty Aphrodite (1996)
The daughter of gangster film vet Paul Sorvino, this bubbly actress took home best supporting actress gold for her role as a ditzy blonde in Woody Allen's 26th turn behind the camera. Anointed one of Hollywood's next big starlets, she had a brief run of box office success, but Sorvino soon disappeared from the limelight. Although presently still working, she sticks mostly to TV movies and straight-to-video flicks.
The Goodbye Girl (1979)
Yet another youngster that managed to turn a feature film debut into an Oscar nomination. In this particular case, she was a 10-year-old best supporting actress nominee. Despite television appearances on everything from Starsky and Hutch to Beretta to Hail to the Chief, her next big-screen role didn't occur until 1989 in the little-seen drama Listen to Me. Cummings was last seen during an episode of Blossom in 1991. A fitting title for her first film, huh?
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1967)
This quirky, nervous, "method" actress took home best supporting actress gold with a tour-de-force performance; one-upping Liz and Dick in only her second feature film. A winner of two Tony Awards, she managed to garner a fair amount of critical success in the years to come. Her final role was in Sean Penn's directorial debut The Indian Runner, right before her death in 1992.
Paper Moon (1974)
In taking home the best supporting actress trophy, this 10-year-old became the youngest-ever Oscar winner -- a mark that still stands. Tatum O'Neal followed it up with another milestone -- a record-setting payday for Bad News Bears. Nonetheless, the cute-as-a-button daughter of Ryan O'Neal saw her career diminish after taking a hiatus to marry John McEnroe and start a family -- eventually going through a highly publicized, messy divorce, a heroin addiction, and writing a tell-all book. In recent years, however, she has caught the acting bug once again.
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