Throughout its 90=year history, the motion picture academy has selected 125 people to receive honorary Oscars. As many of those chosen had never won competitive Academy Awards, this was thought to be a way of making that up to them. With the board of governors likely making their choices in the coming days for the 2017 honorary Oscars, take a look back at the 48 performers who have been so honored in our new photo gallery (tour it above). The gallery includes such legends as Charlie Chaplin, Bob Hope, Cary Grant, Stan Laurel, Groucho Marx, Kirk Douglas, Peter O’Toole, Lauren Bacall, Angela Lansbury, Steve Martin, and Gena Rowlands.
Since the academy shifted these honorary kudos from the telecast to a separate non-televised Governors Awards ceremony eight years ago, they have celebrated 30 people. This shift meant that more people could be honored each year as there are no time constraints to consider. Indeed, there have been four honorees every year but two (2011, 2015) since 2009. And it has allowed for a wider range of talents to be tapped.
The selection process of the recipients of the honorary Oscars is fairly straightforward. The 54 branch governors and three at-large members put forth suggestions, with each of the top choices then voted on individually. Honorees must receive support from at least half of those on the board. The usual limit is three honorees. For a fourth to be named, he or she needs to garner two-thirds of the votes.
Take a look at our link below as we discuss and debate dozens of people who might be under consideration for this year’s honors.
1927/28 (1st): Charles Chaplin (listed under Production)
for acting, writing, directing and producing The Circus.
1937 (10th): Edgar Bergen
for his outstanding comedy creation, “Charlie McCarthy.”
1939 (12th): Douglas Fairbanks*
recognizing the unique and outstanding contribution of Douglas Fairbanks, first President of the Academy, to the international development of the motion picture.
1940 (13th): Bob Hope*
in recognition of his unselfish services to the Motion Picture Industry.
1946 (19th): Laurence Olivier (listed under Production)
for his outstanding achievement as actor, producer and director in bringing Henry V to the screen.
1946 (19th): Harold Russell
for bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans through his appearance in The Best Years of Our Lives.
1947 (20th): James Baskett
for his able and heart-warming characterization of Uncle Remus, friend and story teller to the children of the world in Walt Disney’s Song of the South.
1949 (22nd): Fred Astaire (listed under Choreography)
for his unique artistry and his contributions to the technique of musical pictures.
1949 (22nd): Jean Hersholt*
for distinguished service to the motion picture industry.
1950 (23rd): George Murphy*
for his services in interpreting the film industry to the country at large.
1951 (24th): Gene Kelly (listed under Choreography)
in appreciation of his versatility as an actor, singer, director and dancer, and specifically for his brilliant achievements in the art of choreography on film.
1952 (25th): Bob Hope*
for his contribution to the laughter of the world, his service to the motion picture industry, and his devotion to the American premise.
1952 (25th): Harold Lloyd
master comedian and good citizen.
1954 (27th): Greta Garbo
for her unforgettable screen performances.
1954 (27th): Danny Kaye*
for his unique talents, his service to the Academy, the motion picture industry, and the American people.
1956 (29th): Eddie Cantor*
for distinguished service to the film industry.
1958 (31st): Maurice Chevalier
for his contributions to the world of entertainment for more than half a century.
1959 (32nd): Buster Keaton
for his unique talents which brought immortal comedies to the screen.
1960 (33rd): Gary Cooper
for his many memorable screen performances and the international recognition he, as an individual, has gained for the motion picture industry.
1960 (33rd): Stan Laurel
for his creative pioneering in the field of cinema comedy.
1969 (42nd): Cary Grant
for his unique mastery of the art of screen acting with the respect and affection of his colleagues.
1970 (43rd): Lillian Gish
for superlative artistry and for distinguished contribution to the progress of motion pictures.
1971 (44th): Charles Chaplin*
for the incalculable effect he has had in making motion pictures the art form of this century.
1972 (45th): Edward G. Robinson
who achieved greatness as a player, a patron of the arts and a dedicated citizen…in sum, a Renaissance man. From his friends in the industry he loves.
1973 (46th): Groucho Marx
in recognition of his brilliant creativity and for the unequalled achievements of the Marx Brothers in the art of motion picture comedy.
1975 (48th): Mary Pickford*
in recognition of her unique contributions to the film industry and the development of film as an artistic medium.
1978 (51st): Laurence Olivier*
for the full body of his work, for the unique achievements of his entire career and his lifetime of contribution to the art of film.
1979 (52nd): Alec Guinness
for advancing the art of screen acting through a host of memorable and distinguished performances.
1980 (53rd): Henry Fonda
the consummate actor, in recognition of his brilliant accomplishments and enduring contribution to the art of motion pictures.
1981 (54th): Barbara Stanwyck
for superlative creativity and unique contribution to the art of screen acting.
1982 (55th): Mickey Rooney
in recognition of his 60 years of versatility in a variety of memorable film performances.
1984 (57th): James Stewart
for his fifty years of memorable performances. For his high ideals both on and off the screen. With the respect and affection of his colleagues.
1985 (58th): Paul Newman
in recognition of his many and memorable compelling screen performances and for his personal integrity and dedication to his craft.
1986 (59th): Ralph Bellamy
for his unique artistry and his distinguished service to the profession of acting.
1990 (63rd): Sophia Loren
one of the genuine treasures of world cinema who, in a career rich with memorable performances, has added permanent luster to our art form.
1990 (63rd): Myrna Loy
in recognition of her extraordinary qualities both on screen and off, with appreciation for a lifetime’s worth of indelible performances.
1993 (66th): Deborah Kerr
in appreciation for a full career’s worth of elegant and beautifully crafted performances.
1995 (68th): Kirk Douglas
for fifty years as a creative and moral force in the motion picture community.
2001 (74th): Sidney Poitier*
in recognition of his remarkable accomplishments as an artist and as a human being.
2002 (75th): Peter O’Toole
whose remarkable talents have provided cinema history with some of its most memorable characters.
2009 (82nd): Lauren Bacall
in recognition of her central place in the golden age of motion pictures.
2010 (83rd): Eli Wallach
for a lifetime’s worth of indelible screen characters.
2011 (84th): James Earl Jones
for his legacy of consistent excellence and uncommon versatility.
2013 (86th): Angela Lansbury
an entertainment icon who has created some of cinema’s most memorable characters, inspiring generations of actors.
2013 (86th): Steve Martin*
in recognition of his extraordinary talents and the unique inspiration he has brought to the art of motion pictures.
2014 (87th): Maureen O’Hara
one of Hollywood’s brightest stars, whose inspiring performances glowed with passion, warmth and strength.
2015 (88th): Gena Rowlands
who has illuminated the human experience through her brilliant, passionate and fearless performances.
2016 (89th): Jackie Chan
charming audiences with his dazzling athleticism, inventive stunt work and boundless charisma