The True Story Behind Faye Dunaway's Iconic Pool Photo the Morning After Oscar Win: 'Bittersweet' (Exclusive)

The True Story Behind Faye Dunaway's Iconic Pool Photo the Morning After Oscar Win: 'Bittersweet' (Exclusive)

The new HBO documentary 'Faye' covers the legendary star's life, loves and career

For most actors, winning an Oscar would rank right up there as one of the most memorable moments of their career — if not their life.

Faye Dunaway is probably no different. But for the singular star, who took home Best Actress honors at the 49th Academy Awards on March 28, 1977 for her performance in the 1976 film Network, the morning after was equally unforgettable.

It was immortalized for posterity, thanks to the camera of her then partner (and future husband), photographer Terry O'Neill. The indelible image — Dunaway in her dressing gown at the pool of the Beverly Hills Hotel with newspapers strewn all around her — has become the stuff of Hollywood legend.

<p>Tony Korody/getty</p> Faye Dunaway with her Oscar for Network.

Tony Korody/getty

Faye Dunaway with her Oscar for Network.

"I remember the moment," Dunaway, 83, says when presented with the iconic photo in the new HBO documentary Faye, which will debut July 13 on Max, and in a clip from the film provided exclusively to PEOPLE. "I had won the Oscar for Network the night before, and closer to 5 o'clock, Terry O'Neill tried to persuade me to come to the pool at dawn when the sun came up because he didn't want a traditional kind of picture where the actress is standing with the Oscar."

"But he staged this," she continues. "What I love is 'Is that all there is?' was kind of the theme to it, because at my feet are all of the morning newspapers announcing the wins and also a posthumous Peter Finch Oscar because he passed away three months earlier. [Best Actor winner Finch was her costar in Network.] So it was bittersweet. It was a classic place: Beverly Hills Hotel and swimming pool. So anyway, it was an amazing night, really crazy. Very very memorable."

Terry O'Neill/Getty Faye Dunaway.
Terry O'Neill/Getty Faye Dunaway.

Faye covers the star's life, loves and career, from her early years growing up in Florida through her run as one of Hollywood's top actresses, which began with her star-making turn opposite Warren Beatty in the 1967 classic Bonnie and Clyde (for which she received her first Oscar nomination for Best Actress).

A stunning beauty who was infamous for her reputation as a difficult perfectionist, she followed up her breakthrough with classics like 1968's The Thomas Crown Affair, 1973's Chinatown (Best Actress Oscar nomination No. 2), and Network. Then, of course, came her loved and laughed-at Razzie Award-winning performance as Joan Crawford in the 1980 cult classic Mommie Dearest.

Related: 'No More Wire Hangers!' Inside the Mommie Dearest Scene That Turned a Joan Crawford Film Flop Into a Cult Classic (Exclusive)

The documentary also touches upon her famous costars like Beatty, Steve McQueen and Jack Nicholson; her directors (her clashes with Chinatown director Roman Polanski are legendary); her husbands (who included O'Neill and J. Geils Band frontman Peter Wolf); and her lovers. She also addresses her reputation as a "complicated" star and her more recent bipolar diagnosis.

<p>Silver Screen Collection/Getty</p> Faye Dunaway in 'Network'

Silver Screen Collection/Getty

Faye Dunaway in 'Network'

The film, directed by Laurent Bouzereau, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on May 15 to positive reviews. It features appearances by her Barfly costar Mickey Rourke, her friend Sharon Stone and her son Liam Dunaway O'Neill, as well as Mara Hobel, who played Joan Crawford's daughter Christina as a young girl in Mommie Dearest. (Spoiler alert: Hobel loved working with Dunaway.)

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