Sentimental Oscar winners and nominees
Taking nothing away from his performance in Venus (2006), Peter O'Toole winning his first Best Actor Oscar on his eighth nomination February 25th would prove once again that Academy voters can be awfully sentimental when it comes to nominations and picking winners. Though the term "deathbed Oscar" typically refers to Honorary Awards given near the end of an actor's (writer's, director's, producer's etc.) career and/or life (O'Toole received one in 2003), there have certainly been some curious nominations (and golden statuettes given) through the years.
In fact, the year before Helen Hayes won her Supporting Actress Oscar for Airport (1970) - 39 years but only 13 films after winning the Best Actress Award playing the title role in her talkie film debut The Sin of Madelon Claudet (1931), John Wayne as 'Rooster' Cogburn had won for True Grit (1969) over O'Toole and Richard Burton, a seven time nominee (six for Best Actor) that never even received an honorary award. At least six time Best Actress nominee Deborah Kerr received hers in 1994.
If one examines the record, the history of Academy's sentimentality is revealed; some years, its members have been particularly reflective:
Again, taking nothing away from the actors, their performances or their bodies of work, the Supporting category has been the one most utilized to recognize past contributors with a nomination if not an award. Other studio era actresses who've received Academy recognition late in their careers in this competitive realm include: Lauren Bacall (The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996)), Una Merkel (Summer and Smoke (1961)), Ann Sothern for her last film The Whales of August (1987), Gloria Stuart (Titanic (1997)), Lee Tracy for his last film The Best Man (1964), and Chill Wills (The Alamo (1960)) whose nomination followed an active campaign by that film's producer John Wayne. Those who have won Supporting Awards include: Jack Parlance's unforgettable win and ceremonial exploits for City Slickers (1991), though the actor had been twice nominated already, Don Ameche for Cocoon (1985) and Peggy Ashcroft for A Passage to India (1984).
The Best Actor/Actress category has also featured late recognition and/or first time wins for performers late in their careers, like: the oldest winner Jessica Tandy (Driving Miss Daisy (1989)) surpassing George Burns's achievement, Geraldine Page (A Trip to Bountiful (1985)) who won on her eighth nomination (4 in each category), Henry Fonda (On Golden Pond (1981) one year after his honorary award, the first posthumous Oscar winner Peter Finch (Network (1976)), and Ingrid Bergman's last performance in Höstsonaten (1978) aka Autumn Sonata was recognized with a Best Actress nomination.
And still there are some that (for some reason) were NEVER recognized with a competitive nomination in their lifetimes, the most glaring snub in my opinion was Edward G. Robinson (though his widow received an honorary award two months after his death) whose performances in a variety of leading roles like Five Star Final (1931), Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet (1940), The Sea Wolf (1941) & Our Vines Have Tender Grapes (1945) and supporting roles in Double Indemnity (1944) and The Cincinnati Kid (1965) were completely overlooked by the Academy.
© 2007 Turner Classic Movies - this article originally appeared on TCM's official blog