On Thursday the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced their Board of Governors decision to present special Oscar statuettes to Spike Lee, Debbie Reynolds and Gena Rowlands.
Lee and Rowlands will both receive the Honorary Award given in recognition of “extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy.”
Reynolds will receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award given “to an individual in the motion picture arts and sciences whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry.”
Lee is a trail-blazing director, champion of independent film, and Academy Award nominee best known for “Do the Right Thing,” “Malcolm X” and “Inside Man.” Lee’s feature credits include “Mo’ Better Blues,” “Jungle Fever,” “Crooklyn,” “He Got Game,” “Miracle at St. Anna” and “Red Hook Summer.” He currently serves as the artistic director of the graduate film program at NYU.
Rowlands started her career in 1950s live television. Since then she has appeared in 40 feature films including “Lonely Are the Brave,” “Faces,” “Minnie and Moskowitz,” “Opening Night,” “Another Woman,” “Unhook the Stars,” “Hope Floats,” “Playing by Heart,” “The Notebook” and “Broken English.” Most notably, she received Academy Award nominations for her performances in “A Woman Under the Influence” (1974) and “Gloria” (1980), both directed by her husband and frequent collaborator, John Cassavetes.
Reynolds has been a Hollywood icon ever since she danced her way to stardom in 1952 by starring opposite Gene Kelly in “Singin’ in the Rain.” Since then she has appeared in over 40 feature films including “The Tender Trap,” “A Catered Affair” and “Mother.” In 1964 she received an Academy Award nomination for her starring performance in “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.”
What isn’t so well known about Reynolds is her work as a founding member of the Thalians, a charitable organization conceived and sustained by entertainers to promote awareness and treatment of mental health issues. She served as president almost continuously from 1957 to 2011, adding numerous terms as board chair and frequently presiding over its annual fundraising gala. Her tireless efforts have enabled the Thalians to contribute millions to the Mental Health Center at Cedars-Sinai and to UCLA’s Operation Mend, which helps military veterans recover from the physical and psychological wounds of war.
All three awards will be presented at the Academy’s 7th Annual Governors Awards held on Saturday, November 14 in Los Angeles.
“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.”