Oscar: Posthumous Nominations–Spencer Tracy

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has been reluctant to bestow the Oscar Award posthumously.

Some suggest that the Academy’s reluctance stems from its belief that the awards should affect the careers of practicing artists. In some categories, such as the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for distinguished producers, and the Honorary Oscars, the rules state explicitly that the awards “shall not be voted posthumously.”

Spencer Tracy

Spencer Tracy was also nominated posthumously for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? a film that provided a grand acting reunion with Katharine Hepburn–it was their ninth film together. Were it not for the support and care of Hepburn, Tracy would not have committed to do the film. Fearful that he might not get through with the picture, the sickly but ultimate pro Tracy told director Stanley Kramer four days before shooting ended: “You know, I read the script again last night, and if I were to die on the way home tonight, you can still release the picture with what you’ve got.” Had Tracy lived, he would probably have won the Oscar, both for his acting and for sentimental reasons.

Hepburn’s third Best Actress Oscar was probably based on personal reasons too: she selflessly nursed Tracy throughout the demanding shoot. Acknowledging Tracy’s contribution to her performance, Hepburn said upon winning: “I’m sure mine is for the two of us.”