The Oscars are considered by many to be the gold standard for recognition of mainstream cinematic greatness, so it may come as a surprise to learn that no less than eight stars have outright rejected their Oscars.
Affectionately nicknamed “Oscars”, either after Oscar librarian Margaret Herrick remarked that the trophy resembled her own uncle Oscar in 1931, or as a pejorative term coined by columnist Sidney Skolsky in 1934 (depending on which story you believe), the golden statue has been a symbol of achievement and something that some of the best talent in the business have aspired to for generations.
Although many stars have said they don’t care which hands the little golden guy lands in, few have followed through on those statements of actions. Those who have actually avoided the awards, however, tend to have done so for a variety of reasons — from political to simply nonchalant — and thus entered the Academy’s history books.
Nonetheless, everyone in this article was already an established star in their own right by the time they snubbed the statue, and their legacies still live on today, whether bathed in that golden glory or not. Now let’s see why they didn’t want their rewards.
One of the leading stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age and known for a vast body of work that spans six decades, Katharine Hepburn was an American actress whose performances drew awards from all walks of life.
It’s no surprise, then, that Hepburn received 12 Best Actress Oscar nominations throughout her career and won four, for her roles in Morning Glory (1933), Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner (1967), The Lion In Winter (1968) and On Golden Pond (1981); the all-time record for an artist.
What may be surprising, however, is the fact that she avoided the majority of them, refusing to make an appearance at any of the ceremonies. In fact, the very first Academy Awards Hepburn attended was the 46th, in 1974, where she was a presenter, and not a nominee, and bestowed the Irving G Thalberg Memorial Award on her friend Lawrence Weingarten.
Hepburn had no grudge against the Academy, she just believed that the work itself was her prize. It’s not what you’d expect from one of the silver screen’s most glamorous stars, but celebrity vanity wasn’t always what it is today.