Oscar Ethics Part II: The “In Memoriam” Snubs

For some reason, Luke Perry’s snub (That’s Luke above) has attracted most of the outrage, though he is far from the worst of the omissions, as you will see.

Luke Perry

(October 11, 1966 – March 4, 2019

Perry became a teen idol at 23 after he was cast as the brooding son of a millionaireon Fox’s prime time soap opera,  “Beverly Hills, 90210.”  A riot broke out when 10,000 teen girls attended one of his  August 1991 autograph sessions  While starring in 90210,” Perry appeared in the original film version of Joss Whedon’s” Buffy The Vampire Slayer” (1992). That was pretty much the high point of his film career, though he had a small role in “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.”  Mostly he was a TV actor whose career, after a spectacular launch,  settled into the typical orbit of supporting roles in various series and guest shots in everything from sitcoms like “Will and Grace” to “Law and Order: SVU.”  Between those jobs, voice-over work and regional theater paid the bills and kept him working.

He was, in short, a working professional actor who had one burst of superstardom, which is more than most. Perry was only 52 when he died of a massive stroke.

Michael J. Pollard

(May 30, 1939 – November 20, 2019)

Pollard rose to fame in 1967 as  Bonnie and Clyde’s dim-witted gang member, earning an Oscar nomination along with the other honors racked up by Arthur’s Penn’s ground-breaking, violent epic about the lover-killers. He went on to a long career as a Hollywood character actor, aided by one of the most memorable faces in screen history. That face had made him a familiar TV actor before “Bonnie and Clyde” made him famous: he played the cousin of Maynard G. Krebs (Bob Denver) on “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis,” and Virgil, the cousin to  Barney Fife (Don Knotts), on “The Andy Griffith Show.” In the first season of the original “Star Trek,” he was  a creepy  teenage cult leader on a planet of children.

Pollard continued to make significant films after his Oscar nomination, such as  “Little Fauss and Big Halsy” (1970), a motorcycle racing buddy film in which he co-starred with Robert Redford. He was Billy the Kid in “Dirty Little Billy” (1972), an inept fireman in “Roxanne” (1987), the friend of a Utah gas station owner  who claimed to be Howard Hughes’s beneficiary in“Melvin and Howard” (1980), and  surveillance expert Bug Bailey in “Dick Tracy.”

Pollard was acting right up until his death: two of his films that yet to be released.

Valentina Cortese

(January 1, 1923 –  July 10, 2019)

For decades, Cortese was a distinguished and much acclaimed Italian film actress who was a favorite of Italian directors like Michelangelo Antonioni and Franco Zeffirelli. She received a Supporting Actress Oscar nomination in 1975 for playing a fading diva in Francois Truffaut’s “Day for Night,” now a classic. Ingrid Bergman won the award for her performance in “Murder on the Orient Express,” but in one of the most gracious acceptance speeches the Oscars have ever witnessed,  Bergman said the Italian actress had given “the most beautiful performance” in “Day for Night.”  “I’m her rival, and I don’t like it at all,.Please forgive me, Valentina,” Bergman said and gestured toward a  Cortese in the audience.

Also acclaimed in Italy as a stage actress, Cortese’s film career included roles in Federico Fellini’s “Juliet of the Spirits” and Zeffirelli’s “Brother Sun, Sister Moon.”

Periodically, she returned to Hollywood studios, as when she appeared in “The Barefoot Contessa,” starring  Ava Gardner and Humphrey Bogart.  In a 2012 interview, the actress claimed that her U.S. film career was derailed because she refused to satisfy the era’s Harvey Weinsteins. “I always said ‘no,'” she said.

Carol Lynley

(February 13, 1942 – September 3, 2019)

Lynley began a her career as a teenager on Broadway in Graham Greene’s family drama “The Potting Shed” (1957) and “Blue Denim” (1958). The latter was made into film version in which Lynley also starred. She always seemed on the verge of movie stardom that never quite arrived.

Lynley demonstrated versatility and range in roles like the rival to Joanne Woodward  in “The Stripper,” the reluctant target of a lecherous landlord played by Jack Lemmon in the comedy “Under the Yum Yum Tree;” and a victimized psychiatric patient in “Shock Treatment.” When two studios released competing biopics of 20’s screen siren Jean Harlow in 1965,  Lynley’s portrayal in the cheaper and quickly filmed “Harlow” was better received and made more at the box office than the big budget Paramount production with the same title starring reigning sex symbol Carroll Baker

Lynley’s best film, which I recently watched again, was the strange mystery thriller “Bunny Lake Is Missing” (1965), a flop that has gradually attained cult status.  Lynley was a prominent celebrity in the Sixties, posing nude for Playboy magazine and having an affair with David Frost. Good roles worthy of her talent still proved elusive, however. In 1972, Lynley was a member of the stellar cast  of The Poseidon Adventure , credible as a singer in her early 20s, though she was in her third decade. Her character sang the Oscar-winning song “The Morning After.”

Years later, as Lynley’s career declined into a straight-to-video films and “Love Boat”/ “Fantasy Island” guest spots phase, she was approached by a potential biographer. She laughed at his offer, saying, “I’ve never been in a scandal. I’ve never been caught running naked down a highway. I’ve not tried to shoot anybody. Nobody’s ever tried to shoot me. My child is legitimate … I’ve never been to Betty Ford … No porn … No drug addictions … I’ve outlived three of my doctors. So if you’re going to write a juicy book, you’ve got a problem.”

I’ll finish the list in Part III.

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7 thoughts on “Oscar Ethics Part II: The “In Memoriam” Snubs

  1. To me, Pollard is one of the most outrageous snubs. He was in a classic ground-breaking film, “Bonnie and Clyde” and deserved a mention even if just for that.

  2. Never watched 90210, but Luke Perry’s portrayal of the Reverend Jeremiah Cloutier on Oz was captivating. The character’s manipulation of inmates and their faith was like a car crash. I didn’t want to see it, but couldn’t look away.

  3. Michael Pollard in my opinion is the most outrageous snub. I can hardly image “Bonnie and Clyde” without him as well as Gene Hackman. Then again I wonder how many Academy members even remember the film.

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