The Oscars’ In Memoriam tribute is always one of the most touching moments of the night, but Sunday’s (March 2) was especially poignant because of the still-fresh wound of a pair of recent losses.
In addition to memories of such Hollywood icons as “Lawrence of Arabia” star Peter O’Toole, film critic Roger Ebert and child actress Shirley Temple Black , the evening’s honors ended with an image of Philip Seymour Hoffman. The Oscar-winning actor and star of “The Hunger Games” died exactly one month ago of a drug overdose at age 46.
Beloved and respected by his peers, Hoffman’s legacy includes an Oscar in in 2005 for his indelible portrayal of Truman Capote in “Capote” as well as nominations for his work in “Charlie Wilson’s War,” “Doubt” and 2012’s “The Master.”
There was also a moment to remember “Fast and Furious” series star Paul Walker, 40, who was killed in a fiery car crash in November, as well as one of the most imposing leading men in modern times, “Sopranos” star James Gandolfini , 51, who suffered a heart attack in Italy in June.
Also noted in the segment were the deaths of author Elmore Leonard, whose books provided fodder for such films as “Get Shorty” and “Out of Sight,” comedian Sid Caesar and a writer/director/actor whose death came less than a week ago.
After longtime pal and co-star Bill Murray gave him a shout out while delivering the Best Cinematography award earlier in the night, “Caddyshack” and “Groundhog Day” director/co-writer Harold Ramis , who died last Monday at age 69, was remembered.
Though not included in the televised portion, camera operator Sarah Jones was pictured at the end of the segment and honored on the Academy’s website. Jones, who died on February 20 when she was accidentally struck and killed by a train while working on the film “Midnight Rider,” also worked on “The Vampire Diaries.” One of that show’s leads, Nina Dobrev, tweeted out a link to an online petition before the Oscars to include Jones in the segment which garnered nearly 62,000 signatures.
The segment ended with the Oscar performance debut for two-time nominee Bette Midler, who sang her signature ballad “Wind Beneath My Wings.”