February 5, 1971: Ali MacGraw Won Best Actress at the Golden Globes for “Love Story”

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    February 5, 1971: Ali MacGraw Won Best Actress at the Golden Globes for “Love Story”

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      Sari Rosenberg

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      February 5, 1971: Ali MacGraw Won Best Actress at the Golden Globes for “Love Story”

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      May 21, 2018

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      A+E Networks

On February 5, 1971, Ali MacGraw won the Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama award at the Golden Globes for her role in “Love Story.” Still considered one of the most romantic movies of all time, the runaway hit made MacGraw a household name and American fashion icon. However, it was thanks to MacGraw’s persistence that the film got made in the first place. Aside from becoming one of the most legendary tearjerkers, it went on to earn seven Oscar nominations, including a Best Actress nomination for MacGraw. “Love Story” also gave us one of the most well-known lines in movie history: “Love is never having to say you’re sorry.”

Photo: Courtesy of Everett Collection

Directed by Arthur Hiller, “Love Story” centers around the romance of star-crossed lovers from two different social classes. Oliver Barrett IV (Ryan O’Neal) is an upper-class Harvard College student who plays ice hockey. Jennifer “Jenny” Cavalleri (MacGraw) is a working-class, classical musician who attends Radcliffe College. When the two meet on the Harvard campus, they fall deeply in love. When the couple gets engaged after college, Oliver’s parents are dismayed by his decision to marry someone from a lower social class and his father cuts him off financially. Without his family money, Oliver and Jenny struggle to make ends meet as Oliver attends Harvard Law School. However, as the couple is on the brink of starting a family, Jenny gets a tragic diagnosis that leads to the film’s conclusion that left audiences sobbing.

Thanks to the international success of “Love Story,” MacGraw became one of the most famous actresses of the 1970s. Aside from earning commercial and critical success, “Love Story” also influenced the fashion world by popularizing prep school style.

However, “Love Story” might not have been made without MacGraw championing the film. She had fallen in love with the script penned by Erich Segal. She explained in a 2018 Town & Country interview, “When I first read the script, I was deeply affected by it. I thought, Why am I crying? It’s so simplistic… So, I read it again, and was equally affected.”

Photo: Courtesy of Everett Collection

Even though the script had been rejected by most of the major Hollywood production companies, MacGraw believed in the story. It eventually got picked up by Paramount chief Robert Evans, MacGraw’s future husband. It turns out that Evans did not want to make the film, but took on the film because he had fallen in love with MacGraw. Evans had the brilliant idea of having Segal turn the script into a book before the film was released. The 131-page novella, which was an instant bestseller, built a huge audience that anxiously awaited the movie.

Nearly 50 years after MacGraw’s Golden Globes win, “Love Story” is still one of the most romantic stories ever told. We can thank MacGraw for making sure the film made it to the big screen.

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