Oscars flashback: Iraq invasion in 2003 almost cancelled 75th anniversary Oscars family album reunion of 59 acting winners [WATCH]

The 75th anniversary ceremony for the Academy Awards almost didn’t happen as scheduled. When America led an invasion of Iraq that weekend, broadcast network ABC pleaded with producer Gil Cates and Academy president Frank Piersen to move the event back a week. The duo claimed it would be too expensive to make the switch and that the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood would be unavailable.

On March 23, 2003, the ceremony went live on ABC as scheduled, hosted by comedian, actor, and writer Steve Martin, with the Best Picture proclaimed to be “Chicago.” However, several presenters such as Cate Blanchett, Jim Carrey, and Will Smith cancelled their appearances. That day’s events also caused several past winners to bail out on appearing in the Oscars family album slated for late in the show. Similar to a segment five years early for the 70th anniversary show (read more on the link above), the plan was to have 75 previous champs from acting categories for the 75th annual broadcast, plus juvenile recipients and honorary recipients to be on stage together for introductions. Instead of a grand total of 75 people, the special section ultimately had 59 winners (watch the full 12-minute video above).

Viewers and reviewers expressed approval for the segments on both of these anniversary ceremonies. Could Michael De Luca and Jennifer Todd, producers for the 90th ceremony upcoming on March 4 of this year, be planning a similar tribute? They will have over 150 living winners from acting categories potentially available to them if their goal is to attract 90 of them (we will feature that list soon in a separate article).

Here is a full list from 15 years ago of the 59 competitive and honorary actors and actresses who were part of the 2003 Oscars family album:

Julie Andrews
Kathy Bates
Halle Berry
Ernest Borgnine
Red Buttons
Nicolas Cage
Michael Caine
George Chakiris
Jennifer Connelly
Sean Connery
Geena Davis
Daniel Day-Lewis
Olivia de Havilland
Kirk Douglas
Michael Douglas
Robert Duvall
Louise Fletcher
Brenda Fricker
Cuba Gooding, Jr.
Louis Gossett, Jr.
Joel Grey
Tom Hanks
Marcia Gay Harden
Dustin Hoffman
Celeste Holm
Anjelica Huston
Claude Jarman, Jr.
Jennifer Jones
Shirley Jones
George Kennedy
Ben Kingsley
Martin Landau
Cloris Leachman
Karl Malden
Marlee Matlin
Haley Mills
Rita Moreno
Patricia Neal
Jack Nicholson
Margaret O’Brien
Tatum O’Neal
Jack Palance
Luise Rainer
Julia Roberts
Cliff Robertson
Mickey Rooney
Eva Marie Saint
Susan Sarandon
Maximilian Schell
Mira Sorvino
Sissy Spacek
Mary Steenburgen
Meryl Streep
Barbra Streisand
Hilary Swank
Jon Voight
Christopher Walken
Denzel Washington
Teresa Wright

First-time winners from that night — Adrien Brody, Chris Cooper, Nicole Kidman, and Catherine Zeta-Jones — along with honorary recipient Peter O’Toole were then brought back out on stage in front of the seated group of 59.

A few of the notable past winners that did not participate included: F. Murray Abraham, Anne Bancroft, Kim Basinger, Roberto Benigni, Juliette Binoche, Marlon Brando, Jim Broadbent, Ellen Burstyn, Art Carney, Cher, Russell Crowe, Robert De Niro, Benicio del Toro, Judi Dench, Richard Dreyfuss, Olympia Dukakis, Patty Duke, Faye Dunaway, Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Joan Fontaine, Jodie Foster, Whoopi Goldberg, Gene Hackman, Charlton Heston, Goldie Hawn, Katharine Hepburn, Anthony Hopkins, Helen Hunt, Holly Hunter, William Hurt, Glenda Jackson, Angelina Jolie, Tommy Lee Jones, Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline, Jessica Lange, Shirley MacLaine, Liza Minnelli, Paul Newman, Al Pacino, Gwyneth Paltrow, Gregory Peck, Joe Pesci, Sidney Poitier, Geoffrey Rush, Maggie Smith, Kevin Spacey, Elizabeth Taylor, Shirley Temple, Emma Thompson, Dianne Wiest, Robin Williams, and Joanne Woodward.

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