They Got an Oscar for THAT?  Not really.

Joe Morella and Frank Segers, your Classic Movie guys, reflecting on the Academy’s quirk of casting, in what in effect are, sympathy votes. And, please, enjoy today’s great photos of two stars at their physical peaks. Ain’t they gorgeous?

In the history of Academy Awards there are several instances when the voting members of the Academy have obviously let their emotional feelings for a particular actor warp their judgement of a particular performance in a specific film.

In other words, some Oscar winners, though worthy of the award, were given it for the wrong reasons and the wrong picture.

This “consolation Oscar” trend all started back in 1935, when Bette Davis received her first win for the mediocre film “Dangerous.”  It was really just a programmer for her home studio, Warners. And it was, at best, a typical performance for the melodramatic actress.

BUT the previous year, 1934, on loan out over at RKO, Davis had given a superlative performance as the evil prostitute Mildred in the Somerset Maugham classic, “Of Human Bondage.”  AND she hadn’t even been nominated!

Studio politics undoubtedly played a big part in this. Studios tended to block vote for actors in their own studio films.

So the Academy members corrected their error by not only nominating her in 1935 but by giving her the Oscar she should have gotten the previous year.

Then in 1960, the Academy did it again. The gave Elizabeth Taylor the Best Actress Award for a mediocre performance in an embarrassing film, “Butterfield 8.”

Yet everyone knew it was an Award for Liz herself, and her perseverance at having come through a life threatening illness shortly after she’d lost her husband (Mike Todd) in a tragic accident. 

Besides she’d lost the Oscar in the two previous years for really good (nominated) performances in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” in 1958 and “Suddenly Last Summer,” in 1959.

When Paul Newman lost the Oscar in 1982 for his superb performance in “The Verdict,” it seemed the Academy was just never going to recognize his talent.  He’d already lost three times before.

But “Gandhi” was the darling film of 1982, and garnered many Oscars including one for Ben Kingsley in the Best Actor Category.

However, once again, Academy members made it right by nominating and voting for Newman for Martin Scorsese’s “The Color of Money,”  in 1986. Even Newman knew it wasn’t his best work, although he and costar Tom Cruise give solid performances.

Poor Newman and Taylor.  Sad to win for a so-so performance when you’ve given so many really good ones.  Bette Davis, at least won a second Award and continued getting nominations for years after her “consolation Oscar.”

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