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Tuesday, 15 May, 2001, 10:24 GMT 11:24 UK
Oscar winners 'live longer'
Sir John Gielgud
Sir John Gielgud, who won a best supporting actor title for Arthur, died aged 96
Want to live longer - then win an Oscar, say scientists.

A study by Canadian scientists of every actor and actress to win the coveted golden statuette showed Oscar winners could look forward to an extra four years of life.

And double Oscar winners are likely to outlive their colleagues by an extra six years.

Two researchers from the University of Toronto studied every one of the 762 actors and actresses to win an Academy Award for a leading or supporting role.

Less stress

I can't think of another possible explanation about why they would live longer other than their winning an Oscar

Dr Mark Griffiths, Nottingham Trent University

They then compared them to actors and actresses of the same age and sex who appeared in the film for which they won an Oscar.

On average, the stars who failed to win awards died aged 75.8 years, while their more successful colleagues got an extra 3.9 - 6 years more depending on how many Oscars they had won.

Oscar statue
The Oscar - a golden statuette given to winners of the Academy Awards

Dr Donald Redelmeier, one of the study authors, told the New York Post that success on this scale seemed to train your body to cope with stress.

"Once you get the Oscar it gives you an inner sense of peace and accomplishment that can last for your entire life.

"That alters the way your body copes with stress."

Career pinnacle

Dr Mark Griffiths, reader in psychology at Nottingham Trent University, told BBC News Online, that stars who had reached the pinnacle of their career were unlikely to suffer the same stress and resulting ill-health as the rest of us.

"The thing that keeps you going is praise from your peers and getting favourable critical reviews. The pinnacle of your career must be winning an Oscar.

"Even if you never win one again you have done it," he said.

Dr Griffiths, a member of the British Psychological Society, said that because the study had compared Oscar winners with comparable actors it would seem likely that their success - rather than anything special about the thespian lifestyle - might play a factor in their relative longevity.

"I can't think of another possible explanation about why they would live longer other than their winning an Oscar."

The actress who holds the record for Oscar winning, is four-times best actress Katharine Hepburn, who celebrated her 94th birthday last Saturday.

Katharine Hepburn in  Bringing Up Baby
Katharine Hepburn, who won four Oscars, celebrated her 94th birthday last weekend

Other actors famed for their longevity are Sir John Gielgud, who took the best supporting actor title in 1981 for his role in Arthur. He died last year aged 96.

Anthony Quinn, aged 86, who is still acting, won two best supporting Oscars for his roles in Viva Zapata and Lust for Life.

And British born leading lady Garson Greer, who died in 1996, aged 92, won an Oscar in 1942 for Mrs Miniver - and received seven other nominations.

When George Burns won his Oscar in 1976, aged 80, he had only one thing to say; "It couldn't have happened to an older guy."

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