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George Stevens Jr., Hal Needham, D.A. Pennebaker Win Honorary Oscars

6/12/2014 Lucas Shaw

By Lucas Shaw

George Stevens Jr., documentarian D.A. Pennebaker and stunt performer Hal Needham have all won Honorary Academy Awards while Jeffrey Katzenberg received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, the Academy's Board of Governors announced on Wednesday.


The Board of Governors will present the awards at the Academy's 4th annual Governors Awards Saturday, Dec 1 at the Roy Dolby Ballroom at Hollywod & Highland.

Needham has worked on more than 300 feature films in his career, including "Cinatown," "Blazing Saddles" and "The Spirit of St. Louis." He also co-founded Stunts Unlimited, an organization comprised of Hollywood's top stunt performers.

Though known best as a stunt man, Needham also directed films, including "SMokey and the Bandit" and "Hooper."

The Academy honored Needham in 1986 with a Scientific and Engingeering Award for his role in the creation of the Shotmaker Elite car and crane.

Pennebaker is one of the most famous documentarians of his time, known best for his work on music documentaries like "Don't Look Back" and "Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars."

Only 43 people vote on the awards, which now hold their own spot on the awards season calendar. The board can nominate as many living people as they like, and the nominees are listed on a board before a secret vote. The biggest vote getter then moves forward for a second round of voting.

The process repeats itself with two more candidates, and after those three a fourth candidate must receive yes vote from three-fourths of the governors for an award.

The Academy created the Governors Awards to reward the recipients with a more robust tribute, and to shorten the Oscar broadcast.


Last year, the voters chose three honorees – James Earl Jones, Dick Smith and Oprah Winfrey. The first two years, the voters chose four honorees. Lauren Bacall, John Calley, Roger Corman and Gordon Willis won in 2009 while Kevin Brownlow, Francis Coppola, Jean-Luc Godard and Eli Wallach won in 2010. 

More to come...

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