In 1996, when Julie Andrews was the only actor nominated for the Broadway version of Victor/Victoria, she withdraw her nomination with the comment, “I have searched my conscience and my heart and find that I cannot accept this nomination, and prefer instead to stand with the egregiously overlooked.” Well, Julie, you and they are in good company. Awards bodies have been egregiously ignoring great work for decades.
Over the next four weeks, I will be using this space to highlight two dozen performances that I feel Oscar egregiously overlooked from 1927-1999, six in each acting category. We begin with Best Supporting Actress, an award I heard someone on a TV show in 1964 call “the old lady’s award” even though there were very few old ladies up to that time and beyond who won one. More often, the award went to someone starting out in the movies, whether they were a young ingenue or middle-aged stage veteran. The only winners over 50 up to that point were Jane Darwell at 61, Ethel Barrymore at 65, Josephine Hull at 73, and Margaret Rutherford at 71.
Academy Awards history is filled with actors who won Oscars for the wrong film. That is not the case with any of the women on this first list. The were all overlooked multiple times, one as many as six times. One of them did, however, eventually win a career achievement Oscar. I like to think it was representative of all of them.