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

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

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

Gil Friesen – Oscars for Best Documentary 2014

Posthumous oscars: heath ledger, walt disney… 15 talents rewarded after their death
GIL FRIESEN PRODUCTIONS

Date of death : December 13, 2012
Date of the ceremony: March 2, 2014 20 Feet from Stardom, or the celebration of voices from the shadows. Influential music producer (he led 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 release of the film, he received the Oscar with director and producer Caitrin Rogers.

Heath Ledger – Oscar for Best Supporting Actor 2009

Posthumous oscars: heath ledger, walt disney… 15 talents rewarded after their death
Warner Bros.

Date of death : January 22, 2008
Date of the ceremony: February 22, 2009 This is probably the most famous posthumous Oscar winner… and celebrated. 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

Posthumous oscars: heath ledger, walt disney… 15 talents rewarded after their death
20th Century Fox

Date of death : January 4, 2003
Date of the ceremony: March 23, 2003 A huge director of photography, considered one of the most influential by his peers, Conrad L. Hall had received two statuettes from the Academy, in 1979 for Butch Cassidy and the Kid, and in 2000 for American Beauty by Sam Mendes. His reunion with the filmmaker on The Paths of Perdition earned him a posthumous Oscar, awarded to his son Conrad W. Hall, also director of photography.

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

Posthumous oscars: heath ledger, walt disney… 15 talents rewarded after their death
HBO

Date of death : December 11, 1992
Date of the ceremony: March 29, 1993 Educating Peter, or the school year of a young boy with a mental handicap, who is going to experience his learning and schooling in a traditional establishment among other non-handicapped pupils. Behind this moving documentary short film by Gerardine Wurzburg, we found in particular the producer Thomas C. Goodwin, winner of the statuette with the director.

Howard Ashman – Oscar for Best Song 1992

Posthumous oscars: heath ledger, walt disney… 15 talents rewarded after their death
Walt Disney Pictures

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

Geoffrey Unsworth – Oscar for Best Cinematography 1981

Posthumous oscars: heath ledger, walt disney… 15 talents rewarded after their death
Renn Productions

Date of death : October 28, 1978
Date of the ceremony: 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 Tess by Roman Polanski in 1978 : the Frenchman Ghislain Cloquet finishes the film behind the camera, and both are awarded at the Oscars in 1981. Ghislain Cloquet had however been nominated (and rewarded) alone at the Césars the previous year.

Peter Finch – Oscar for Best Actor 1977

Posthumous oscars: heath ledger, walt disney… 15 talents rewarded after their death
United Artists

Date of death : January 14, 1977
Date of the ceremony: March 28, 1977 Biting charge against the media, Network hands down Sidney Lumet’s television offers Peter Finch a major role, that of a presenter pushed to the limit by his managers and the demands of the audience. His unforgettable monologue in a raincoat (“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 very first posthumous Oscar awarded to an actor.

Raymond Rasch & Larry Russell – Oscar for Best Music 1973

Posthumous oscars: heath ledger, walt disney… 15 talents rewarded after their death
United Artists

Date of death: December 23, 1964 & February 14, 1954
Date of the ceremony: March 27, 1973 Strange destiny than that of the Limelights, Charlie Chaplin’s last American film made in 1952 but banned from being released in the United States for two decades because of McCarthyism. In the meantime, its 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 1969

Posthumous oscars: heath ledger, walt disney… 15 talents rewarded after their death
Walt Disney Pictures

Date of death : December 15, 1966
Date of the ceremony: April 14, 1969 Faithful collaborator of Uncle Walt, director Wolfgang Reitherman receives this Oscar in his name in 1969, when his illustrious producer died two years before the medium-length film Winnie the Pooh in the wind (where Tigger and Piglet make their grand debut) is completed. It is the last of twenty-two (!) statuettes awarded to Walt Disney throughout his prolific career.

Eric Orbom – Oscar for Best Production Design 1961

Posthumous oscars: heath ledger, walt disney… 15 talents rewarded after their death
Universal International

Date of death : May 23, 1959
Date of the ceremony: April 17, 1961 Passed away at the age of 43, the American artistic director of Swedish origin distinguished himself in some thirty feature films during the 1950s. Among them, Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus peplum, which won four Oscars in 1961: Best supporting role, 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 – Oscars for Best Picture and Best Production Design 1960

Posthumous oscars: heath ledger, walt disney… 15 talents rewarded after their death
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Date of death : November 4, 1958 & March 2, 1959
Date of the ceremony: April 4, 1960 Among 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 hailed with the (major) statuette for Best Film, while artistic director William A. Horning received the trophy for Best Set Design… i.e. his second posthumous Oscar (see below).

William A. Horning – Oscar for Best Production Design 1959

Posthumous oscars: heath ledger, walt disney… 15 talents rewarded after their death
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Date of death : March 2, 1959
Date of the ceremony: April 6, 1959 Died March 1959, William A. Horning is to date the only person to be awarded twice posthumously. Indeed, a year before his statuette for Ben Hur, the 31st Academy Awards, held in April 1959, hailed his work on the sets for Vincente Minnelli’s musical Gigi. The artist was therefore never hailed during his lifetime by the Academy, he who had been nominated for The Wizard of Oz or Quo Vadis.

Victor Young – Oscar for Best Music 1957

Posthumous oscars: heath ledger, walt disney… 15 talents rewarded after their death
United Artists

Date of death : November 10, 1956
Date of the ceremony: 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 Around the World in 80 Days score. The same year, Victor Young was also nominated in the Best Song category for Written on Wind.

Sidney Howard – Oscar for Best Screenplay (Adaptation) 1940

Posthumous oscars: heath ledger, walt disney… 15 talents rewarded after their death
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

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

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