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Lifetime Achievement Award: Academy Bypasses Doris Day + Film Women

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Doris Day Lifetime Achievement Award
Lifetime Achievement Award: Doris Day & long-running Honorary Oscar “snub.”

Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award: Doris Day & Danielle Darrieux among Honorary Oscar non-recipients

Ramon Novarro Beyond Paradise

(See previous post: “Honorary Oscars Bypass Women: Greta Garbo & Angela Lansbury Among Rare Exceptions.”) Those who have read my Alt Film Guide posts are aware that I’m no fan of political correctness. But looking at the Honorary Oscar figures discussed in part one of this article, I’d say that (anti-female) sexism is the only plausible explanation for them, as one of the characteristics of male (or male-oriented) chauvinism is the perception that women’s issues – whether in life or on screen – carry less importance than those of men.

Women in the film industry certainly haven’t been bypassed because the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Board of Governors have been unable to find qualified female candidates. Among women film veterans – in Hollywood or elsewhere – with at least 35 years[1] in the business (i.e., from 1979 onwards) and who have yet to receive an Honorary Oscar for their body of work are the following actresses:

Danielle Darrieux (a movie star for nearly eight decades). Doris Day. Michèle Morgan. Eva Marie Saint. Catherine Deneuve. Vanessa Redgrave. Debbie Reynolds. Actress-director Jeanne Moreau. Joanne Woodward.

Micheline Presle (more than 75 years in movies; her latest film, the short Je montrerai mes seins, was screened in 2014). Actress-director Liv Ullmann. Gina Lollobrigida. Claudia Cardinale. Kim Novak. Mia Farrow.

Actress-director Monica Vitti. Isabelle Huppert. Julie Christie. Irene Papas. Jane Alexander. Hanna Schygulla. Gena Rowlands (update: 2015 recipient). Valentina Cortese. Goldie Hawn. Julie Andrews.

Doris Day: Honorary Oscar snub

Of the aforementioned Honorary Oscar non-winners, Doris Day, nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award for Michael Gordon’s 1959 romantic comedy hit Pillow Talk, is a particularly interesting case.[2] After all, Day remains a major celebrity. And that is undoubtedly a consideration in the Board of Governors’ selection of most of the Academy’s past Honorary Oscar winners, especially when the award was presented at the televised Oscar ceremony itself.[3]

According to one Academy insider, Doris Day has in fact been contemplated for an Honorary Award, but the “official” top female domestic box office draw of the ’50s and ’60s declined the Academy’s invitation to show up at the ceremony.

Now, since Jean-Luc Godard didn’t bother picking up his Honorary Oscar at the 2010 Governors Awards, while the following year honoree James Earl Jones was busy playing opposite Vanessa Redgrave in Driving Miss Daisy on the London stage, it’s impossible to understand why the Academy would be unwilling to honor Doris Day in absentia.

As it stands, Doris Day, who turned 91 (or 93, according to some sources) in April 2015, remains Honorary Oscar-less. And despite her charity work and ardent support for animal rights, she remains Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award-less as well.

See also:

Claire Bloom Clash of the Titans
Claire Bloom in ‘Clash of the Titans’: She went from Charles Chaplin to Shakespeare and Ibsen.

Charlotte Ramping, Claire Bloom: More women bypassed for the Honorary Oscar

In varying degrees of international prestige and movie-career longevity, among Honorary Oscar-less actresses, one could also add the following:

Emmanuelle Riva. Claire Bloom. Isabelle Adjani. Bibi Andersson. Charlotte Rampling. Leslie Caron. Susan Sarandon. Shirley MacLaine. Marsha Hunt.

Bette Midler. Faye Dunaway. Sarah Miles. Anouk Aimée. Sissy Spacek. Diane Keaton. Cloris Leachman. Ann-Margret. Piper Laurie. Stéphane Audran.

Carmen Maura. Geraldine Chaplin. Carroll Baker. Barbara Hershey. Joan Plowright. Sigourney Weaver. Marsha Mason. Ellen Burstyn. Debra Winger.[4]

A few more names, in various capacities:

  • Producers Margaret Ménégoz (mentioned in the previous post) and Kathleen Kennedy.
  • Actress-directors (and sometimes producers) Barbra Streisand and Lee Grant.
  • Directors Agnès Varda, Catherine Breillat, Barbara Hammer, Margarethe von Trotta, and Lina Wertmüller.
  • Editor Anne V. Coates (Lawrence of Arabia, The Elephant Man).
  • Screenwriter Harriet Frank Jr. (Hud, Norma Rae).

Shortening the cut-off date a bit, one could add:

  • Six-time Academy Award-nominated actress Glenn Close, whose first feature film, George Roy Hill’s The World According to Garp, was released in 1982.
  • 1986 Best Actress Oscar nominee Kathleen Turner (Peggy Sue Got Married), whose film career began with Lawrence Kasdan’s Body Heat in 1981.

Julie Andrews, Eva Marie Saint: Oscars decades ago

Some of the women listed above won a single Oscar decades ago.[5] Examples include:[6]

  • Eva Marie Saint for Elia Kazan’s On the Waterfront (1954).
  • Julie Andrews for Robert Stevenson’s Mary Poppins (1964).
  • Julie Christie for John Schlesinger’s Darling (1965).
  • Goldie Hawn for Gene Saks’ Cactus Flower (1969).
  • Shirley MacLaine for James L. BrooksTerms of Endearment (1983).
Piper Laurie
Piper Laurie: Three-time Oscar nominee.

Besides Doris Day, others have been nominated, whether once or multiples times, without ever winning a competitive Academy Award. Examples include:

  • Three-time nominee Piper Laurie.
  • Four-time nominees Jane Alexander and Marsha Mason.
  • Carroll Baker, one of the earliest surviving Best Actress Oscar nominees (Baby Doll, 1956).
  • Lina Wertmüller, the first woman shortlisted for the Best Director Oscar (Seven Beauties, 1976).

Many others have never even been nominated, e.g., Danielle Darrieux, Isabelle Huppert, Claire Bloom, Carmen Maura, Michèle Morgan, Mia Farrow, Agnès Varda.

Two-time winners excluded

Left out of the list of Honorary Oscar-less women were actresses Luise Rainer, Olivia de Havilland, Maggie Smith, Glenda Jackson, Jane Fonda, Meryl Streep, Sally Field, Jodie Foster, and Jessica Lange, as each one of them has already won two or more (Streep has three) Academy Awards in the acting categories. (Update: Luise Rainer died in Dec. 2014.)

Additionally, Barbara Kopple and Thelma Schoonmaker have each already won more than one Oscar in the same category: Kopple has two wins for Best Documentary Feature, while Schoonmaker has three for Best Film Editing.

Only someone like filmmaker Elia Kazan, i.e., with friends in high places at the Academy, can have two Oscar wins in a specific category – Best Director for Gentleman’s Agreement (1947) and On the Waterfront (1954) – and still be allowed to get a third statuette for career achievement.[7]

Barbra Streisand, I should note, has also won two Academy Awards: her first Oscar was for Best Actress in William Wyler’s 1968 Fanny Brice biopic Funny Girl (Streisand tied with Katharine Hepburn in The Lion in Winter), while the second was as co-composer (with Paul Williams) of the song “Evergreen” from A Star Is Born. Hence, actress-director-producer (and songwriter) Barbra Streisand’s inclusion on the list.

“Honorary Oscar: Doris Day Inexplicably ‘Snubbed’” follow-up post: “Honorary Award: Too Late for Gloria Swanson, Rita Hayworth.”

Danielle Darrieux Honorary Oscar
Danielle Darrieux and the elusive Honorary Oscar.

Honorary Oscar article notes

[1] Male Honorary Oscar recipients oftentimes don’t have too wait all that long to get Academy recognition.

Steve Martin was given an Honorary Oscar in 2013. Martin’s feature film career began in earnest 34 years earlier, with Carl Reiner’s 1979 hit comedy The Jerk (released two years after Carl Gottlieb’s Oscar-nominated comedy short The Absent-Minded Waiter, written by Martin).

1985 Honorary Oscar winner Paul Newman’s first film was released 31 years prior to his Academy honor: Victor Saville’s widely derided post-biblical drama The Silver Chalice. Eddie Cantor had to wait 27 years from the time his Hollywood career truly kicked off following the 1930 release of the Samuel Goldwyn musical Whoopee!.

Two-time Best Actor winner Gary Cooper had been making movies for 36 years when he received his Honorary Award. (In place of the ailing Cooper, James Stewart picked up the statuette.) Orson Welles had been around for 29 years (32 years, if one includes the experimental Too Much Johnson). Ernst Lubitsch, who began his film career in Germany, had to hang around for 33 years overall and for 24 years since his Hollywood debut.

Several Honorary Oscar winners, however, didn’t have to wait nearly as long.

Honorary Oscar super-fast lane: Gene Kelly was handed an Honorary Oscar in 1952, a decade after his first film, For Me and My Gal. (Directed by Vincente Minnelli and starring Kelly in the title role, the musical An American in Paris was 1952’s surprise Best Picture Oscar winner.)

Also after having been in Hollywood for only ten years, Danny Kaye received an Honorary Oscar in 1954 (not only for “his service to the Academy,” but also “for his unique talents”), while in 1949 Fred Astaire took home his career-achievement statuette after having been in movies a mere sixteen years.

Most women had to wait (a lot) longer for their Honorary Oscar

For comparison’s sake: Greta Garbo was named a 1955 Honorary Award recipient 33 years after her feature film debut and 29 years after her Hollywood debut. For women, that’s as brief a wait as it got.

Sophia Loren had to wait 40 years for her Honorary Oscar. Margaret Booth, Barbara Stanwyck, Deborah Kerr, and Gena Rowlands more than half a century. Lillian Gish nearly six decades. Mary Pickford, Myrna Loy, and Lauren Bacall had to wait more than six decades. Angela Lansbury 69 years from the time of her film debut (Gaslight, 1944). And Maureen O’Hara more than 75 years.

Doris Day movies

[2] Besides Pillow Talk, co-starring Rock Hudson, Doris Day film credits include:

  • Michael Curtiz’s Young Man with a Horn (1950), with Kirk Douglas and Lauren Bacall.
  • David Butler’s Calamity Jane (1953), with Howard Keel.
  • Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), with James Stewart.
  • Delbert Mann’s Lover Come Back (1961), with Rock Hudson and Tony Randall.
  • Delbert Mann’s That Touch of Mink, with Cary Grant (1962).
  • Norman Jewison’s The Thrill of It All, with James Garner and Arlene Francis (1963).

Honorary Oscar: Timing an issue

[3] Regarding the timing of the Board of Governors’ Honorary Oscar selections, here’s one example: Alec Guinness was handed an Honorary Award at the 1980 ceremony. Three years earlier, the 1957 Best Actor Oscar winner (for David Lean’s World War II action-drama The Bridge on the River Kwai) had been featured in George Lucas’ mega-blockbuster Star Wars, which earned him a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nomination.

The year he won his Honorary Oscar, Guinness was back on the big screen in another blockbuster, the Star Wars sequel The Empire Strikes Back and in the costly box office bomb Raise the Titanic.

Laurence Olivier, for his part, was handed an Honorary Oscar in 1979, the year he received his tenth – and last – nomination in the acting categories, as Best Actor for Franklin J. Schaffner’s The Boys from Brazil (1978).

Timing of a different sort – ill health/encroaching death – resulted in Honorary Oscars for Gary Cooper (1961 ceremony), Edward G. Robinson (1973, by then posthumously), and Satyajit Ray (1992).

Stefania Sandrelli
Stefania Sandrelli: From sexpot to – half a century later – multiple award-winning actress.

More Honorary Award-less actresses

[4] A few more actresses (30 years or longer in films), of varying degrees of international prestige/career longevity, that could be added to the Honorary Oscar-less list:

Stefania Sandrelli. Liza Minnelli. Dominique Sanda. Dorothy Malone. Tuesday Weld. Machiko Kyo. Glynis Johns. Anna Karina. Ann Blyth, who trails Angela Lansbury for the title of earliest surviving Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee (Mildred Pierce, 1945).

Jane Birkin. Jane Powell. Norma Aleandro. Senta Berger. Silvia Pinal. Jacqueline Bisset. Geneviève Bujold. Anjelica Huston. Michelle Pfeiffer. Joan Allen. “Mexico’s Sweetheart” Lupita Tovar, who turned 105 years old on July 27, ’15.

Cicely Tyson. Judy Davis. Laura Dern. Melanie Griffith. Julie Walters. Carol Kane. Whoopi Goldberg. Samantha Eggar. Mary Steenburgen. Diane Lane. Miou-Miou. Sharon Stone. Miranda Richardson.

Joan Leslie had also been included on the list; she died in Oct. 2015.

Honorary Oscar: Previous winners in the competitive categories

[5] Besides two-time winners Elia Kazan and Gary Cooper, several individuals took home at least one competitive Academy Award prior to receiving an Honorary Oscar.

Among them: Mary Pickford, Laurence Olivier, James Stewart, Sophia Loren, Sidney Poitier, Robert Redford, Alec Guinness, and 2014 recipient Hayao Miyazaki.

Helen Mirren and Judi Dench

[6] Helen Mirren and Judi Dench were left out of the list because the former won a Best Actress Oscar less than a decade ago (for Stephen Frears’ The Queen, 2006), while the latter – a Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner for John Madden’s Shakespeare in Love (1998) – became a de facto film actress only in the mid-’80s, or less than three decades ago.

Gary Cooper

[7] Another two-time Academy Award winner who also received an Honorary Oscar was Gary Cooper.

That was clearly a sentimental gesture on the part of the Academy, as the Best Actor winner for Howard Hawks’ Sergeant York (1941) and Fred Zinnemann’s High Noon (1952) was dying of cancer at the time of his 1961 honor.

Doris Day publicity photo (possibly for Pillow Talk) ca. 1960: Universal Pictures.

Danielle Darrieux image via Tout le Cinéma.

Claire Bloom Clash of the Titans image: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

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Lola Albright -

Doris Day was such a huge, box-office star for years, and still to this day is so loved and so popular, it’s about time to recognize her long career with an honorary Oscar. If she doesn’t wish to travel to receive it, so be it. It can be given in absentia. Or—she can be filmed from home. Hurry, before it’s too late. She should also be recognized for the great work she has done in the field of animal welfare. Hollywood would be honoring itself in honoring Doris Day, a great star and a great human being.

Marta Fiorentino -

Yes: Gina Lollobrigida is a terrific actress. Her directors: John Huston, King Vidor, Robert
Mulligan, Robert Siodmak, Luigi Comencini, Vittorio de Sica, Christian Jacque, Rene Clair,
Luigi Zampa, Jean Delannoy, Alessandro Blasetti, John Sturges, Jules Dassin, Melvin Frank, Jerzy Skolimowsky…
Yes: Danielle Darrieux, Michelle Morgan, Carmen Maura, Norma Aleandro…

Van Cockcroft -

Good, comprehensive list, except that here’s a “no” vote for both Mia Farrow and Goldie Hawn.

Kelly -

With all due sincere respect, I really don’t understand the point of your article. Maureen O’Hara was announced as the recipient weeks ago, so I’m not sure why you were expecting Doris Day to join her this year?

I agree however that Day deserves it more than anyone else (including O’Hara) listed in your article. She was not only a very underrated actress and great singer, but could dance as well as Ginger Rogers (if not better), something that is unknown by even many of her fans.

I also agree that Danielle Darrieux should be on the list, and perhaps even Julie Andrews and perhaps Shirley MacLaine. Debbie Reynolds, while also extremely multitalented and beloved, when it comes to movies, really owes her career to one film (Singin’ in the Rain’). It could be argued that she deserves a humanitarian award for her attempt at preserving film via her massive collection of movie memorabilia and costumes, but for the most part, her career for the last 4 decades has been on the stage and in Las Vegas. Susan Sarandon deserves an Honorary Oscar, but probably won’t be nominated for another 10 years, unless of course she wins one for a performance before then.

I’m frankly puzzled by many of the others you have mentioned as those deserving of consideration, especially…Marsha Hunt, Gina Lollobrigida, Kim Novak, Goldie Hawn, Leslie Caron, Claudia Cardinale, Bette Midler, Ann-Margret, Ann Blyth, Liza Minnelli, Joan Leslie, Jane Powell, and Dorothy Malone.

These are all wonderful women, beloved by their fans (including myself), and some with long careers. Some of these have given fantastic performances in a famous film or two, but that’s about it.

And again, with all due respect, we’ll have to totally agree to disagree when it comes to Kim Novak, who I consider to be one of the most beautiful but inept actresses in the history of film. I would argue that she would be completely forgotten were it not for her luck in being cast in Vertigo, and that had she not been cast, the film would’ve been even more of a classic than it is today. I know I’m probably in the minority on that one, considering Vertigo is on most critic’s Top Ten lists. I can only imagine how much better it would’ve been with almost anyone other than Novak in the role.

And of course I mean no disrespect towards Ms. Novak, the person. Just don’t think she is deserving to be on any sort of list when it comes to Oscar consideration.

Best regards,


p.s. Danny Kaye’s Honorary Oscar in ’54 (or any year)? Totally undeserved, IMO. :)

Andre -


Just one minor clarification: Nowhere do I say that Doris Day should be honored this year. My point is that, in the last eight-odd decades, Day – along with a number of other deserving women (many of whom are now dead) – have been bypassed for the Honorary Oscars. (As indicated in the title, this is part two of a three-part article.)

Terry Nelson -

If there is one person who should have been rewarded a Honory Oscar it would be Rita Hayworth. Since she died millions of dollars in her name have been given to help research Alzheimers Disease, and her daughter Princess Yasmin should be there to recieve it in her mothers name.


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