The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced today (Thursday, August 27, 2015), in a press release that Spike Lee, Debbie Reynolds and Gena Rowlands will be presented with honorary Oscars at the 7th Annual Governors Awards on Saturday, November 14, 2015, at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center. Spike Lee and Gena Rowlands will receive honorary awards for their work in the motion picture industry and Debbie Reynolds will receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for her work with the mentally disabled.
“The Board is proud to recognize our honorees’ remarkable contributions at this year’s Governors Awards,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “We’ll be celebrating their achievements with the knowledge that the work they have accomplished – with passion, dedication and a desire to make a positive difference – will also enrich future generations.”
Spike Lee’s Oscar story is coming full circle for the filmmaker. He received a Student Academy Award in 1983 for his NYU thesis film, “Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads.” Lee has embraced his own unique style of filmmaking with films such as “School Daze,” “She’s Gotta Have It” and “Do the Right Thing.”
Lee received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay for, “Do the Right Thing” in 1990. But Lee has stretched his filmmaking talent, working in documentary films and more conventional films, including “Inside Man” and “Malcolm X.” He received a second Oscar nomination for his documentary, “4 Little Girls” in 1998. Not only is Lee one of the hottest directors in the business, but he is also teaching the next generation of filmmakers as he works at NYU as their artistic director of graduate films.
The lovely Gena Rowlands started her career in New York. There she worked on stage and in the thrilling world of live television. Rowlands is a beloved actress, creating characters that range from bold to breathtakingly loving. She received her first Oscar nomination in 1975 for Best Actress in a Leading Role in, “A Woman Under the Influence,” portraying a woman on the brink of madness. Her second Oscar nomination came in 1981 for Best Actress in a Leading Role in, “Gloria.” Both of her nominations were for films she made with her husband, director John Cassavetes.
Rowlands has continued to create a broad cast of characters in her films, which include “Hope Floats,” “Another Woman,” the very popular, “The Notebook” and just recently, “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks.” Watch for Oscar winner Sandra Bullock to present Rowlands with her Oscar, as they are dear friends – this is an expectation, not an announcement.
Out of the three honorees just announced, Debbie Reynolds is not only an actress, but a Hollywood legend and Icon. She was only a teenager when she starred opposite Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor in the huge MGM hit,” Singin’ in the Rain.” She acted, danced and sang her way into the hearts of moviegoers across the globe.
Reynolds received her first and only Oscar nomination in 1965 for Best Actress in a Leading Role in the musical, “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.” With over 80 film credits to her name, Reynolds has never stopped performing. When she wasn’t making movies, she performed across the nation (with a long stint in Las Vegas) in her own, one-woman musical show.
Reynolds is also the main reason that Hollywood has learned to treasure its film history. When MGM was getting rid of thousands of costumes it is Reynolds that had a vision of creating her own museum, and she save thousands of important and historical costumes. Although her dream for a museum never came to fruition, many of recent auction items will be gracing the new Oscars museum – being built now.
Reynolds is being honored by the Oscars for work that she has not been really given the recognition for and that she has done humbly, as she is a founding member of the Thalians. This group is a charitable organization ran by entertainers to promote the treatment and awareness of mental health issues. She was the Thalians’ president for over 50 years, serving in this capacity from 1957 to 2011. Her efforts have helped the Thalians to raise millions of dollars that were given to UCLA’s Operation Mend and the Mental Health Center at Cedars-Sinai. It’s for these efforts that the Academy has decided to celebrate Reynolds by bestowing upon her The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. Watch for Debbie Reynolds’ daughter/actress Carrie Fisher to present her award to her – again this is an assumption and has not been announced by the Academy.
The Governors Awards is a private award ceremony and will not be televised.