Once again, this year’s Academy Awards proved to be letdown for viewers across the country. Most of the awards were predictable, the jokes from NPH were lame and confusing, and no one fell up the stairs going to receive their Oscar. However, the most unfortunate part of this year’s Oscars program was the exclusion of several actresses that made great impacts on television and on stage by the Academy during the “In Memoriam” segment.
Leaving Joan Rivers, Jan Hooks, and Elaine Stritch unrecognized by the Academy for their contributions to film and entertainment as a whole isn’t necessarily a crime against humanity, but it is downright unfair.
Joan Rivers’ sudden death in September this past year marked the end of an era for women in comedy. Joan was a notable trailblazer on television, known for expressing her true thoughts, which were rarely sugarcoated. Her family received immense support from celebrities on television and in film alike.
While she mainly appeared on television, Joan contributed to film a few movies, but most notably made the Oscar Red Carpet pre-show what it is today. There is no doubt that her criticism and praise for the fashion that marred and graced the Red Carpet expanded Oscar viewership more than the Academy could have imagined. Most importantly, she brought humor to something that would bore most people to tears, but the Academy doesn’t need to thank her or even memorialize her, except for maybe on their website.
Much like Joan, Jan Hooks also brought humor to the silver screen, even if it wasn’t well received by critics. Jan, however, wasn’t in entertainment for film. As an SNL alum, she brought laughter to audiences over the years before she made her final appearance in 1994. She appeared in cult classics like Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and Coneheads with her fellow SNL cast members. Jan was an actress and starred in cinema while making people laugh, whether or not the Academy gives a damn.
Of the three women snubbed by the Academy, Elaine Stritch was easily the most versatile of actresses. She spent her early career on stage, garnering praise from critics and Tony nominations as she continued to flourish as a stage actress. She also appeared in a variety of British and American sitcoms, and her performance as Jack Donaghy’s mother in 30 Rock.
Like Joan Rivers, Elaine appeared in some movies alongside stars like Rock Hudson and Charlton Heston, an Academy Award winner. She also gave an “acclaimed” performance in Woody Allen’s September. I can understand Hooks’ and even Rivers’ exclusions from the “In Memoriam” segment, but for the Academy not to honor Elaine Stritch and her contribution to film is really beyond.
After this year’s Academy Awards, it’s plain to see that funny women didn’t die. While I disagree with the Academy’s decision to leave these three talented and hilarious women out of the “In Memoriam” segment of the program, I see the exclusion as a reminder of the lives these women lived. Honestly, why should they die? Their legacies carry on in entertainment and their talents speak volumes that drown out their deaths.
These three women and any other talented entertainers, writers, and crewmen that have gone unnoticed let their legacies live on in the films they create. The “In Memoriam” segment allows for the Academy to publically recognize the talents of the deceased at every year. I truly believe the three women in this article should have been honored in during the program with their fellow entertainers, but at the same time it’s important to remember that people die, but talented forms its own legacy and lives on.