Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

Oscar Snubs Again! Here’s Who Was Left Off the Memorial Reel This Year

At dinner one night years ago, a friend asked me if I’d be watching the Oscars that weekend. “She will if some old guy is getting something,” my husband replied, rolling his eyes somewhere north of the Bronx. Now, of course, they hive off my favorite part, the Lifetime Achievement awards to a smaller ceremony that’s not even televised; the statuette might as well be in the shape of the YouTube logo.

But that’s downright respectful compared to the annual middle finger known as the Oscar memorial reel.

Classic film always gets slammed especially hard—it’s not unusual for the Academy to snub actual Oscar winners (hello, Dorothy Malone!). Among the missing this year—my sixth covering this event—were Valentina Cortese, Carol Lynley, Susan Harrison, Peggy Stewart, Edith Scob, Virginia Leith, Julie Gibson, David Hedison, Robert Walker Jr., Sue Lyon, Robert Conrad, Orson Bean, Edd Byrnes, Phyllis Newman, Niall Toibin, Freddie Jones, Tadao Takashima, Richard Erdman, Allene Roberts, Dianne Foster, Fay McKenzie and Jan Merlin.

Also overlooked were Paul Koslo, Billy Drago, Jeremy Kemp, Paul Benjamin, Sid Haig, Bill Macy, Jan-Michael Vincent, Eddie Jones, Verna Bloom, Denise Nickerson, René Auberjonois, Katherine Helmond, Luke Perry, Valerie Harper, Barry Coe, Rip Taylor, Cameron Boyce, Paula Kelly, Tim Conway, Marie Laforêt, Michael J. Pollard, Susan Bernard, Tania Mallet, Nadja Regin, Joan Staley, Peggy Lipton, Ron Leibman, Georgia Engel, Caroll Spinney, Shelley Morrison, Russi Taylor, Peter Tork, Robert Axelrod, John Wesley, Arte Johnson, Max Wright, John Clarke and Chuy Bravo.

Never content to snub just one branch, they also dissed writers William Wittliff, Mardik Martin, Herman Wouk, Toni Morrison, Rocci Chatfield, Martin Charnin, Mark Medoff, Gordon Bressack, Sam Bobrick and Bernard Slade; directors Jonas Mekas, Ringo Lam, Larry Cohen, James Frawley, Dusan Makavejev and Harold Prince; composer Jerry Herman; producers Andrew Vanja, Edward Lewis, Lee Mendelson, David Weisman and Nik Powell; makeup artist Matt Rose; film executives Eric Pleskow, Gary Lemel and Nick Ludwin; editor Terry Rawlings; film historians Rudy Behlmer and Ron Hutchinson; and art director Lawrence Paull. And the fabulous Bob Dorian, host of American Movie Classics, pretty much the lone source of oxygen for old-movie fans for a full decade before TCM came on the scene (and in a typically classy move, TCM honored Dorian in its memorial reel).

And I know, there’s a longer video on the Academy website, but the whole A list/B list thing for dead people will never not be creepy. Why not devote some real time and talent to producing a lovely, inclusive tribute, the way TCM does every year? (This is the kind of thing you people do for a living, isn’t it?) And then either—gasp!—cut out a few commercials (this year they somehow had time for 69 of them running a full 40 minutes) and air it in full on the telecast, or simply post it on the website. But the hideously truncated list they slap up there during the show only infuriates everyone and disrespects those who spent their whole lives creating the kind of memories we love movies for.

Admittedly I’ve cut a wide swath here, including folks who worked less in film than in television or theater, but please comment with anyone I missed, and I’ll add them. (Keep in mind, the Oscar memorial reel doesn’t cover the calendar year; it runs from last year’s February 24 Oscar show until today.)

And if Oscar omitted someone you love, please take to Twitter to honor them, using the hashtag #MemorialSnubs.

Godspeed and oceans of gratitude to everyone we’ve lost. Especially for those of us who love classic film, this gets more heartbreaking every year.



  1. mercurie80

    I want to thank you again for the annual Oscar Snubs list! I am always shocked by the sheer number of people the Academy leaves out, and there is often no rhyme or reason to it. They will leave out well-known actors, but include a publicist no one has ever heard of. This year I think including Kobe Bryant was a bit of an insult to film fans. I know he was a well-loved basket ball player, but his connection to film was tenuous at best (an Oscar for animated short seems to be about it). I would have much rather Tim Conway or Carol Lynley had been included! Sadly, there seems to be no way to fix this. People have been complaining about the omissions in the In Memoriam for years and it just seems to be getting worse. Even petitions to have someone included in the on-air In Memoriam don’t seem to work. They excluded my Vanessa Marquez despite a petition that ultimately surpassed 12,000 signatures.

  2. Even Herman Wouk!

    Thank you for suffering for the rest of us. And for the knot in my stomach right now. The Academy, of all organizations, should “get” the emotional connection to the movies past and the respect owed all who create.

    This year’s list of snubs is particularly egregious. I simply cannot watch “their party.”

    • This year seemed more awful than usual. And ironically, they trotted out Tom Hanks to tell us all about the new Academy museum, which honors Hollywood history. That pretty much broke the Irony Meter!!

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