Who Was Snubbed from the Oscars “In Memoriam”?

Slate's Culture Blog
Feb. 25 2013 1:49 PM

The Baffling Snubs of “In Memoriam”

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Actor Andy Griffith in 2003

Photo by Matthew Peyton/Getty Images

Along with slamming the latest Best Picture winner as a terrible choice, noting all the great performers who were conspicuously missing from the “In Memoriam” segment of the Oscars telecast has become an annual tradition. Last night, many of the biggest Hollywood names who passed away over the last 12 months were duly celebrated: Nora Ephron, Ernest Borgnine, producer Richard D. Zanuck, and so on. Marvin Hamlisch even received his own special tribute courtesy of Barbra Streisand, who sang “The Way We Were” in his honor.

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They’re online, the academy responded, having posted a gallery of still photos for those left off the broadcast. Of course, the online gallery had its own snubs. Where’s Phyllis Diller? What about Native American actor and activist Russell Means? Conrad Bain? Sherman Hemsley?

On the one hand, it’s commendable that the academy takes pains to include not just recognizable faces, but also those who were generally behind the scenes during their careers—people like cinematographer Harris Savides and costume designer Eiko Ishioka (as well as, it seemed last night, a whole bevy of marketing and publicity executives). But couldn’t they appease both the families and friends of the lobbied-for lesser-knowns and those of us in the audience who wanted to see some familiar faces? It was great to see Beastie Boy Adam Yauch—who played a huge part in the indie film world. It was a shame to miss so many other greats who also left us this year.

And all it requires is a re-ordering of priorities. Enough with the extraneous musical numbers, already. For an industry that loves to honor itself, it’s baffling that they have yet to figure out that we all want more “In Memoriam.” Let us offer greater—and longer—appreciation for those we already miss.

Aisha Harris is a Slate culture blogger for Brow Beat. Follow her on Twitter.