Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award winner Oprah Winfrey Oscar quotes
Many were surprised and/or upset that the 2011 Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award was going to be handed to a television personality at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Governors Awards on Nov. 12. For although Oprah Winfrey did receive a Best Supporting Academy Award nomination for Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple back in early 1986, the TV talk show host and billionaire entrepreneur's participation in the world of filmmaking has been at best marginal.
Besides The Color Purple, among Winfrey's rare forays into movies in the last quarter of a century are:
- A supporting role in Jerrold Freedman's film version of Richard Wright's novel Native Son (1986), starring Victor Love.
- A lead role in and a producing credit on Jonathan Demme's poorly received Beloved (1998).
- Doing voice work for Bee Movie (2007) and The Princess and the Frog (2009).
- An executive producer credit on Lee Daniels' Best Picture Oscar nominee Precious (2009).
Academy President Tom Sherak came to Oprah Winfrey's defense, asserting that she is “one of the most philanthropic performers in the world,” while adding that “she's a member of the Academy” who has been nominated for an Academy Award – “and she has produced movies.”
Precious few women winners
Incidentally, Oprah Winfrey is only the sixth woman to receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, first handed out at the 1957 Oscar ceremony – the year after actor (Greed, The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg) and former Academy President Hersholt's death.
Winfrey's predecessors – four of them actresses – were:
- Martha Raye (at the 1969 ceremony).
- Rosalind Russell (1973).
- Elizabeth Taylor (1993).
- Audrey Hepburn (1993).
- Former Paramount chairperson Sherry Lansing (2007).
Oprah Winfrey wipes away tear
At the Governors Awards ceremony in the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland in Los Angeles, Oprah Winfrey reportedly wiped away a tear while receiving praise from a speaker onstage. She later took to the podium with a message straight out of Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life: “Your life matters. You matter. What you do matters.”
Not that anyone could possibly disagree. For better or for worse, what Winfrey said is both true and self-evident.
Helping 'The Help'
While onstage, Winfrey also plugged potential Best Picture Academy Award contender The Help through one of those inspirational speeches that pepper – or plague, depending on your take – award shows.
“I never imagined receiving an Oscar, especially for doing what is part of my calling, part of my being,” the 57-year-old told the crowd. “If you are not a former colored girl born in Mississippi in 1954, it is impossible for you to know what this journey has meant.”
Winfrey added that both her mother and grandmother had been maids just like the black women in the Tate Taylor sleeper hit, thus reminding everyone that among the countless children and grandchildren of black Southern maids a single one had gone on to become a billionaire TV celeb.
Brett Ratner brouhaha, humanitarian Hugh Grant
Sherak also paid a brief tribute to Oscar producers Laura Ziskin and Gilbert Cates, both of whom have died in the last few months.
And not that anyone has asked us, but…
How about a Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for Maurice and About a Boy star Hugh Grant, for his efforts in trying to save the world from Rupert Murdoch and his minions/whores in the British media, the British police, the British government, and elsewhere?
Oprah Winfrey quote about the journey from 1954 Mississippi to 2011 Hollywood & Highland via People.com.
Image of Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award recipient Oprah Winfrey holding Oscar statuette: Todd Wawrychuk / © A.M.P.A.S.
Make-up artist Dick Smith: Honorary Oscar recipient at the Governors Awards
Oprah Winfrey was not the only Academy honoree on Nov. 12. Linda Blair introduced the presentation of the Honorary Oscar to veteran make-up artist Dick Smith, 89. Back in 1973, Smith transformed the then 13-year-old Blair into an iconic movie “monster” in William Friedkin's blockbuster The Exorcist.
“For me, it was not as much fun as I think it was for Dick,” she recalled. “It was not a little girl's dream.” Yet for her performance as a teenager possessed by a (literally) head-turning demon, Blair – assisted by the initially uncredited voice of Mercedes McCambridge – was shortlisted for that year's Best Supporting Actress Academy Award.
Whether or not because it was revealed that her demon voice had actually been the work of the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award winner of 1949 (for Robert Rossen's All the King's Men), she lost the 1973 Oscar to the even younger Tatum O'Neal in Peter Bogdanovich's Paper Moon.
Dick Smith movies
Among Dick Smith's other movie credits are Otto Preminger's The Cardinal (1963); Arthur Penn's Little Big Man (1970), featuring Dustin Hoffman as a centenarian; Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather: Part II (1974); Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver (1976), Ken Russell's Altered States (1980); and Tony Scott's The Hunger (1983) – during the course of which David Bowie goes from hip vampire to wrinkled prune.
Here are a few more titles: The World of Henry Orient, House of Dark Shadows, The Sunshine Boys, The Deer Hunter, Ghost Story, Starman, Death Becomes Her, and House on Haunted Hill.
In early 1985, Dick Smith and Paul LeBlanc took home the Best Make-Up Oscar – introduced three years earlier – for their work on Milos Forman's Amadeus, which starred F. Murray Abraham as Antonio Salieri and Tom Hulce as Mozart.
Honorary Award recipient Dick Smith photo: Matt Petit / © A.M.P.A.S.
Actor and screenwriter Tom McCarthy on the Red Carpet
Pictured above is screenwriter Tom McCarthy (a.k.a. Thomas McCarthy) on the red carpet at the 2011 Governors Awards. The evening's honorees were actor James Earl Jones, who had to accept his Honorary Oscar from London, make-up artist Dick Smith, and Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award recipient and billionaire TV celebrity Oprah Winfrey.
Tom McCarthy has four screenplay/story credits: Up (which earned him an Oscar nomination, along with co-writers Bob Peterson and Pete Docter), The Station Agent, The Visitor, and Win Win. McCarthy also directed the last three titles.
As an actor, his movie credits include Meet the Parents, Syriana, Michael Clayton, Baby Mama, The Lovely Bones, and Little Fockers.
Whether as an actor, director, or screenwriter, Tom McCarthy has never worked on a feature project with James Earl Jones, Dick Smith, or Oprah Winfrey. But Win Win, featuring Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, and Bobby Cannavale, is a potential contender this awards season.
Tom McCarthy photo: Matt Petit / © A.M.P.A.S.
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (A.M.P.A.S.) website.