UPDATED with more info: Stanley Donen, the legendary director of classics like Singin’ in the Rain, whose death at age 94 was just confirmed a day and a half before the Oscars, was the most prominent omission of the annual “In Memoriam” reel in tonight’s telecast.
Other notables left out included Star Wars and American Graffiti producer Gary Kurtz, actress Carol Channing, experimental filmmaker Jonas Mekas and marketing and distribution executive Mark Urman. Despite a petition urging her inclusion, Stand and Deliver and ER actress Vanessa Marquez also did not make the cut. Also missing were actors Dick Miller, whose work included Gremlins and The Terminator, and Julie Adams, known for Creature from the Black Lagoon.
The Academy did post a more comprehensive photo gallery on its site tonight that included Donen and Channing. A total of 211 photos are included.
Donen was a renowned figure whose films spanned decades and included many whose images are inextricable from Hollywood history. Along with directing the likes of Charade, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Damn Yankees, He also directed the Oscar broadcast in 1986.
Missteps are something of an occupational hazard, and the reel has never been subjected to more scrutiny than during the current social-media age. While the Academy didn’t immediately offer any response to the criticism about Donen, it surely was related to the relentless emphasis on squeezing the running time. Donen’s passing may have simply been deemed to be too close to the live show, but many film buffs and others who took to Twitter wondered why there hadn’t been an effort to at least give the director a shout-out from the stage.
The LA Philharmonic, under the direction of conductor Gustavo Dudamel, also built to an unusual crescendo at the end of the reel, with brass and percussion swelling and more than 20 seconds elapsing after the last honoree, Albert Finney. The shape of the segment differed from many past editions, when the musical accompaniment of the reel faded away to match the disappearance of all of the luminaries. Here is the video:
Here are some social-media reactions to the In Memoriam choices: