The Academy Awards or The Oscars is an annual American awards ceremony honoring cinematic achievements in the film industry. The awards were first presented in 1929 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. It is the oldest entertainment awards show. It's gone from a dinner and a 15 minute awards ceremony to an over two hour TV production broadcast in over 200 countries around the world. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has overseen these awards since their inception.
It is considered by many to be the most prestigious award Hollywood has to offer. The very first person to receive an Oscar got his early because he couldn't make it to the ceremony due to filming in France. This happens occasionally like when Michael Caine was too busy filming Jaws the Revenge to pick up his Oscar for supporting actor in Hannah and her Sisters.
Amazingly though there are some people that haven't bothered showing up or have even (gasp) declined the nomination!
I know right? I think the only reason I wouldn't show up to accept this award, is if I were dead. Well that has happened only twice in Oscar's 86 year history when the Academy had to bestow posthumous Oscars. The first was for Peter Finch's portrayal of Howard Beale, the mad prophet of the airwaves in 1978's Network A scathing indictment of television circa 1970's, yet still relevant today. The film would garner three other Oscars, Best Actress (Faye Dunaway), Best Supporting Actress (Beatrice Straight) incidentally the shortest Oscar winning performance (about 5 minutes), and Best Original Screenplay (Paddy Chayefsky).
The other one as most of you know was awarded to Heath Ledger for his incredible portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight
Death was a pretty good excuse but some people just don't even bother showing up at all. Take for instance Katherine Hepburn who holds the record for Best Actress awards, receiving four of the coveted statuettes.
She was nominated a dozen times, over 48 years, which has only been surpassed by Meryl Streep (a record 19 nominations, 2 wins for Best Actress, 1 for supporting actress) But she never went to the big show when she was nominated. However she did make one appearance to present an Irving Thalberg award to Lawrence Weingarten.
She did however display her awards the statues on the west coast the plaques (yes I guess you get plaques too!) in her New York apartment. She won her last Oscar in 1982 for her performance in "On Golden Pond". That year she beat out Meryl Streep, Diane Keaton, Marcia Mason, and Susan Sarandon.
Woody Allen has been nominated 24 times and won four Academy Awards: three for Best Original Screenplay and one for Best Director (Annie Hall). He has more screenwriting Academy Award nominations than any other writer BUT he has only gone to the ceremony once! Allen is not even a member of the academy. Here he is talking about the Oscars that Annie Hall won.
"The whole concept of awards is silly," said Allen. "I cannot abide by the judgment of other people, because if you accept it when they say you deserve an award, then you have to accept it when they say you don't."- Woody Allen
He did come out once, to the first Academy Awards after the 9/11 attacks to introduce a tribute to the Big Apple in the movies.
Woody Allen's explanation on why he doesn't go to the Oscars-
"It's really almost impossible, as he puts it, to judge art, that it's so subjective, you can't really say, well, this performance is better than that or that writing is better than this and that, if you get caught in that trap of relying on other people, however great they are, to tell you whether you're any good, you're either going to consciously or subconsciously start playing to that group."
Whatever their reasons for not attending they at least never declined the awards. However there are three others that have. The first time was in 1935
In the 1930s Nichols was a prominent screenwriter . His credits included movies like Bringing Up Baby, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and the movie that made John Wayne a star: Stagecoach. He won an Oscar for The Informer (1935), a script he adapted from a book about the Irish War of Independence. Nichols was involved in a group that wanted to form a union specifically for screenwriters and cited the unfair treatment of writers as his reason for declining the award. In 1938 he was made president of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and he finally accepted the Oscar that he had won.
GEORGE C. SCOTT
George C. Scott first turned down his nomination for The Hustler in 1962. He didn’t win that time, but he did for Patton in 1970. Scott upon learning of his nomination sent a telegram to the Academy telling them of his intention to refuse the award, saying that he didn't want to be in competition with other actors. Telling others though-
"The ceremonies are a two-hour meat parade, a public display with contrived suspense for economic reasons."- George C.Scott
Supposedly he was home at his farm in New York watching a hockey game when Goldie Hawn ripped open the envelope and cried,
"Oh my God! The winner is George C. Scott”
Perhaps the most famous rejection of the little gold statue came from "The Godfather" himself.
Of course he had accepted the award for his performance in "On The Waterfront" in 1955 and been nominated six other times besides that and his Godfather win but Brando was upset by the stand off at Wounded Knee and felt that Hollywood's depiction of Native Americans led to their mistreatment. So he sent an Apache named Sacheen Littlefeather to refuse the Oscar he won for portraying Vito Corleone.
Littlefeather was booed when she announced she was sent to protest Hollywood’s treatment of Native Americans. It was later reported that Littlefeather wasn't a Native American at all, and that she was in fact a Mexican actress named Maria Cruz. I have to say it was better than a telegram!
People have used the Academy Awards to make political statements since then but no one has declined the award since Brando.