Oscar Scandals: Newman, Paul

The recipient of the 1985 Honorary Oscar, Paul Newman, was absent from the ceremonies; he was filming in Chicago. One of the Academy's great losers, Newman had received six Best Actor nominations. The special award was bestowed “in recognition of his many memorable and compelling screen performances and for his personal integrity and dedication to his craft.” In his taped remarks, Newman made sure to state that unlike previous recipients, he was neither ill nor close to retirement. “I'm especially grateful that this didn't come wrapped as a gift certificate to Forest Lawn, my best work is down the pike in front of me.”

And it was. In the following year, injustice was corrected with a legitimate Oscar for The Color of Money (an inferior sequel to 1961 The Hustler, which boasts Newman's finest work). Though Newman gave a decent performance as Fast Eddie Felson, now an aging pool player who becomes a mentor to a new protege (played by Tom Cruise), doubts prevailed–was it a sentimental, compensatory vote for his previous defeats

The Academy could not do enough for Newman, and after winning an honorary Oscar in 1985, and a competitive Oscar in 1986, he was given the Jean Hersholt humanitarian award for years of donating money to various charities. In 1994, he was nominated again for Best Actor in Robert Benton's Nobody's Fool.