Posthumous Oscars: Heath Ledger, Walt Disney… 15 talents awarded after their death


Since its creation, the Academy of the Oscars has awarded fifteen talents after their disappearance. Which actors, screenwriters and artists have received a posthumous golden statuette?

If the Academy of the Oscars traditionally greets its great departed at each ceremony during an “in memoriam” sequence always very moving, certain talents who died between the production of their film and the celebration of Hollywood’s high mass sometimes have the honors of a posthumous gold medal. statuette. Thus, in 94 years of the Oscars, more than 70 posthumous nominations have been announced in the competitive categories for 15 winners.

Gil Friesen – Oscar for Best Documentary 2014


Death date : December 13, 2012
Ceremony date: March 2, 2014 20 Feet from Stardom, or the celebration of voices from the shadows. Influential music producer (directed A & M Records from 1977 to 1990), Gil Friesen had accompanied this documentary by Morgan Neville, which tells the story of the singers behind the greatest hits. Carried away by leukemia before the film’s release, he received the Oscar alongside director/producer Caitrin Rogers.

Heath Ledger – Oscar for Best Supporting Actor 2009

Warner Bros.

Death date : January 22, 2008
Ceremony date: February 22, 2009 This is probably the most famous… and celebrated posthumous Oscar winner. Unforgettable joker from The Dark Knight: The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger died in January 2008 at the age of 28, a few months before the release of Christopher Nolan’s film. It was his father, mother and sister who received the statuette in his name in 2009.

Conrad L. Hall – Oscar for Best Cinematography 2003

20th Century Fox

Death date : January 4, 2003
Ceremony date: March 23, 2003 A great cinematographer, considered one of the most influential by his peers, Conrad L. Hall had received two Academy statuettes, in 1979 for Butch Cassidy and the Kid, and in 2000 for Sam’s American Beauty. Mendes. His reunion with the filmmaker in The Paths of Perdition earned him a posthumous Oscar, awarded to his son Conrad W. Hall, also a cinematographer.

Thomas C. Goodwin – Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Film 1993


Death date : December 11, 1992
Ceremony date: March 29, 1993 Educating Pedro, or the school year of a young man with a mental disability, who is going to experience his learning and schooling in a traditional establishment among other non-disabled students. Behind this moving documentary short film by Gerardine Wurzburg, we find in particular the producer Thomas C. Goodwin, winner of the statuette with the director.

Howard Ashman – Oscar for Best Song 1992

walt disney images

Death date : March 14, 1991
Ceremony date: March 30, 1992 In 1992, lyricist Howard Ashman was nominated three times with Alan Menken in the same category (!) for the songs from Beauty and the Beast: “Belle”, “C’est la fête” and ” The Belle and the Beast”. It is this last piece that will earn him the second Oscar of his career, after being awarded for “Under the Ocean” from The Little Mermaid in 1990. Carried away by AIDS in 1991, at the age of 40, he received a posthumous award for the last time. nomination in 1993 for “I’m your best friend” from Aladdin.

Geoffrey Unsworth – Oscar for Best Cinematography 1981

Renn Productions

Death date : October 28, 1978
Ceremony date: March 31, 1981 2001, Cabaret, Superman… Geoffrey Unsworth left his mark on American cinema, working in photography since the early 1940s. He died of a heart attack on the set of Roman Polanski’s Tess in 1978: the French Ghislain Cloquet Finishes the film behind the camera, and both are awarded at the 1981 Oscars. Ghislain Cloquet however, he had been nominated (and awarded) only at the Césars the previous year.

Peter Finch – Oscar for Best Actor 1977

United Artists

Death date : January 14, 1977
Ceremony date: March 28, 1977 A scathing accusation against the media, Sidney Lumet’s Network indisputably television offers Peter Finch a leading role, that of a presenter pushed to the limit by his leaders and the demands of the audience. His unforgettable monologue in a trench coat (“I’m Mad As Hell”) earned him the Best Actor statuette, two months after his death at age 60 from a heart attack. This is the first posthumous Oscar awarded to an actor.

Raymond Rasch and Larry Russell – Oscar for Best Music 1973

United Artists

Death date: December 23, 1964 and February 14, 1954
Ceremony date: March 27, 1973 Strange fate than that of the Limelights, Charlie Chaplin’s last American film made in 1952 but banned from release in the United States for two decades because of McCarthyism. Meanwhile, his co-composers Raymond Rasch and Larry Russell disappeared, respectively, in 1964 and 1954. Distributed in 1972 in Los Angeles, the film qualified for the Oscars and earned them the golden statuette… the only one ever awarded to Chaplin. (excluding Honorary Oscars).

Walt Disney – Oscar for Best Animated Short Film 1969

walt disney images

Death date : December 15, 1966
Ceremony date: April 14, 1969 Faithful collaborator of Uncle Walt, director Wolfgang Reitherman receives this Oscar on his behalf in 1969, when his illustrious producer passes away two years before the medium-length film Winnie the Pooh in the Wind (where Tigger and Piglet make their big debut). it’s complete. It is the last of twenty-two (!) statuettes awarded to Walt Disney throughout his prolific career.

Eric Orbom – Academy Award for Best Production Design 1961

universal international

Death date : May 23, 1959
Ceremony date: April 17, 1961 Died at the age of 43, the Swedish-born American artistic director stood out in thirty feature films during the 1950s. Among them, Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus peplum, winner of four Oscars in 1961: Best role Secondary, Best Cinematography, Best Costumes and Best Sets awarded to Eric Orbom and his collaborators Alexander Golitzen, Russell A. Gausman and Julia Heron.

Sam Zimbalist & William A. Horning – Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Production Design 1960

Metro Goldwyn Mayer

Death date : November 4, 1958 and March 2, 1959
Ceremony date: April 4, 1960 Of the eleven Oscars awarded to Ben-Hur in 1960 (remember that the film holds the record with Titanic and The Return of the King), two were awarded posthumously. Producer Sam Zimbalist was thus acclaimed with the (big) statuette for Best Picture, while art director William A. Horning received the trophy for Best Set Design… that is, his second posthumous Oscar (see below). ).

William A. Horning – Academy Award for Best Production Design 1959

Metro Goldwyn Mayer

Death date : March 2, 1959
Ceremony date: April 6, 1959 Died March 1959 William A. Horning he is to date the only person to have been awarded twice posthumously. In fact, a year before her statuette for Ben Hur, the 31st Academy Awards, held in April 1959, acclaimed his work on the sets of Vincente Minnelli’s musical Gigi. The artist, therefore, was never acclaimed in life by the Academy, he who had been nominated for The Wizard of Oz or Quo Vadis.

Victor Young – Oscar for Best Music 1957

United Artists

Death date : November 10, 1956
Ceremony date: March 27, 1957 More than 300 compositions and songs for the cinema between 1930 and 1956, 22 Oscar nominations throughout his career… and a single golden statuette, awarded posthumously in 1957, a few months after his death, for the Round the World Tour in 80 days scoring. The same year, Victor Young was also nominated in the Best Song category for Write on Wind.

Sidney Howard – Oscar for Best Screenplay (Adaptation) 1940

Metro Goldwyn Mayer

Death date : August 23, 1939
Ceremony date: February 29, 1940 The only screenwriter officially credited in the credits of Gone with the Wind (despite extensive writing and rewriting by various hands), Sidney Howard in 1940 became the first posthumous Oscar winner in a category competitive. The playwright had been the victim of a terrible accident the year before, run over by his own tractor on his farm.


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