UPDATED with Academy statement: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has responded to complaints about the exclusion of some entertainment figures from its annual In Memoriam segment on Sunday’s Oscar telecast.
“The Academy receives hundreds of requests to include loved ones and industry colleagues in the Oscars In Memoriam segment,” the organization said in a statement obtained by Deadline. “An executive committee representing every branch considers the list and makes selections for the telecast based on limited available time. All of the submissions are included on Oscar.com and will remain on the site throughout the year.”
PREVIOUSLY: Kobe Bryant led off the Oscar telecast’s In Memoriam segment and Kirk Douglas was the last film personality it honored.
The annual portion late in the show, introduced this time by Steven Spielberg and accompanied by a rendition of “Yesterday” by Grammy winner Billie Eilish, appeared to avoid major controversy. One thing that helped minimize nitpicking was the memorial reel’s timing in between stunning wins by Parasite, which dominated the night’s closing hour. Still, the lack of mentions for Luke Perry, Jan-Michael Vincent, Michael J. Pollard and Tim Conway, among others, did elicit some grumbles on social media.
Vincent was nominated for a Golden Globe for his turn in Going Home. Perry, though known for TV roles and acknowledged at last September’s Emmys, appeared in films such as this year’s multiple-category nominee Once Upon a Time In Hollywood. Conway also gained fame on TV but appeared in several films, including comedies with Don Knotts. The same dynamic was in play for Robert Conrad, Rene Auberjonois and Cameron Boyce, all of whom did not get mentioned.
Pollard was perhaps the biggest omission, as he was nominated for an Oscar in 1968 for his supporting performance in Bonnie & Clyde. Another missing name known to film buffs was Ron Leibman, who had parts in films like Where’s Poppa? and Norma Rae). Denise Nickerson, also not featured, quit acting to become a nurse but played memorable roles as a young actor like Violet in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Three more on the skipped list were Valentina Cortese, a supporting actress Oscar nominee for Day for Night; Poseidon Adventure star Carol Lynley; and Sue Lyon, who played the title role in Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation of Lolita.
Last year’s In Memoriam sequence left out several big names, including Singin’ in the Rain director Stanley Donen, who died three days before last year’s Oscar ceremony. (He was included in this year’s reel.) Also missing from the 2019 tribute were Star Wars and American Graffiti producer Gary Kurtz, actress Carol Channing, experimental filmmaker Jonas Mekas and marketing and distribution executive Mark Urman.
Bryant, who died along with his daughter and seven other people in a helicopter crash last month, won an Oscar in 2018 for the animated short, Dear Basketball, which he wrote and narrated. The Los Angeles Lakers great received tributes Sunday night from several Oscar show attendees, including Spike Lee, who wore a purple and gold tuxedo emblazoned with Bryant’s No. 24.
The death of Douglas late last week at age 103, raised questions in industry circles about how he would be honored at the show. He wound up occupying the position of honor at the very end of the reel.