Oscar Actors: Chaplin

The Academy has devised other mechanisms to counter the inevitable imperfections of its evaluation. The Honorary Awards, set apart from the competitive merit awards, are given “for exceptionally distinguished service in the making of motion pictures or for outstanding service to the Academy.” The regulations stipulate that Honorary Oscars “are not limited to the awards year,” and “shall not be voted posthumously.”

Chaplin never won a legitimate award, but he was honored with three Special Oscars. The first of which was in 1927-28 for his “versatility and genius,” in writing, producing, directing, and acting in The Circus; Chaplin was nominated for this film in competitive categories, but did not win. Whenever the Academy sensed that a major contribution stands no chance of winning a legitimate award, they vote a Special Oscar.