Oscar Scandals: Streisand

The Actors Branch requires “a minimum of three feature film credits, in all of which the roles played were scripted roles, one of which was released in the past five years, and all of which are of a caliber that reflect the high standards of the Academy.” But actors are also invited to join, if “in the judgment of the Actors Branch Executive Committee, (they) otherwise achieved unique distinction, earned special merit or made an outstanding contribution as a motion picture actor.”

Yet there are exceptions. There was a good deal of criticism and resentment when Barbra Streisand was invited to become a voting member before she had even made her first film, Funny Girl. Gregory Peck, the Academy President, tried to rationalize by saying, “when an actress has played a great role on the stage and is coming into films for what will obviously be an important career, it is ridiculous to make her wait three years for membership.”

The Streisand issue was raised again when a Best Actress Oscar tie was declared between her and Katharine Hepburn (The Lion in Winter). If, as the accounting firm claimed, it was “a precise tie,” and assuming that Streisand had voted for her performance, it meant that had Streisand not been a voting member, she would have lost by one vote and the winner would have been Hepburn.