Okay boys and girls, it’s time for our annual Sister Celluloid tradition: filling in the massive gaps in the Oscar memorial reel!
Granted, this was a horrible year. That old cliché that celebrity deaths come in threes? Yeah no. Sometimes it felt more like tens. The most common posts on social media consisted of a single word: No. As in, Not him. Not her. Not another one.
So the producers had an overwhelming job this time. But instead of acknowledging what a hideous year it was—and giving the memorial segment the time it deserved—they blew it again.
Couldn’t they have cut down on the lame-ass patter, contrived stunts or commercials to honor the long, long list of people we loved and lost? Good God, you could drive that stupid tour bus they spent 10 minutes on through the gaping holes in that “tribute.”
But hey, not to worry: the Academy assures us there’s “an extended photo gallery of filmmakers, artists and executives”on its website! Can you think of a more depressing Hollywood fate than being an also-ran in the freaking memorial reel? “Hey, Mom, I’ll bet Dad’s glad he devoted his whole life to his craft—he’s number 121 in the slideshow! Really, just keep clicking, you’ll get there!”
A friend once kidded that I only watched the Oscars “when some old guy was getting an award.” Which wasn’t true. I also watched for the old ladies. But a few years back, in a further kick in the teeth to classic film, the Academy ghettoized the Governors Awards for lifetime achievement—and doesn’t even bother to televise them. So now I watch the Oscars mostly for the memorial reel—and then clack away at my spittle-flecked laptop to honor all the fabulous people they didn’t bother to acknowledge.
You didn’t have to be from the classic era to be snubbed—but as usual, it helped. Among the missing actors were Gloria DeHaven, Alan Young, Ruth Terry, Robert Vaughn, Madeleine Lebeau, Michele Morgan, John McMartin, Gordon Kaye, Anne Jackson, Steven Hill, Brian Bedford,Tammy Grimes, Bernard Fox, Rita Gam, Richard Bradford, Joan Carroll, Billy Chapin, Dick Davalos, Patricia Barry, Marvin Kaplan, Al Molinaro, Francine York, Van Williams, Douglas Wilmer, Peter Vaughn, Fritz Weaver, Madeleine Sherwood, William Schallert, James Stacy, Doris Roberts, Alec McCowen, Burt Kwouk, Barbara Hale, Fyvush Finkel, Robert Horton, Jon Polito, Garry Shandling, Charmian Carr, Maggie Blye, Larry Drake, Miguel Ferrer, Alexis Arquette, Florence Henderson, Richard Hatch, Bill Henderson, Teresa Saldana, Kevin Meaney, Noel Neill, Jinpachi Nezu, Joseph Mascolo, Frank Pellegrini, Joe Santos, Gil Hill, Ron Glass, Jack Riley, Peter Brown, Nicole Courcel and David Huddleston.
Overlooked filmmakers included Guy Hamilton (as in “Bond. James Bond.”), Pierre Etaix, Giorgio Albertazzi, Don Ireland and Herschell Gordon Lewis.