Trumbo’s widow, Cleo, received the Oscar, which was awarded for the film’s screen story, Monday night before a special screening of the film at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
Trumbo, one of the blacklisted Hollywood Ten, enlisted friend and fellow screenwriter Ian McClellan Hunter to act as a front for him as the credited writer of “Roman Holiday.” The film won three Academy Awards, including one for best motion picture story.
Last year, the Writers Guild officially changed the film’s credits to reflect its true authorship and the Academy’s Board of Governors voted to amend its records and present the Oscar to Trumbo’s widow. Trumbo died in 1976.
“Tonight we will be attempting to right history by presenting the Oscar that Mr. Trumbo won in 1953,” Academy president Robert Rehme told the overflow crowd, which included “Roman Holiday” co-star Eddie Albert and director Tim Hunter, son of writer Ian Hunter.
“During his lifetime, he was never able to publicly claim that honor,” Rehme said, “but it is our hope that here and now, one more dark chapter in American history can begin to be closed.”
Rehme’s comments were echoed by Academy Governor Fay Kanin, who said, “Not many will quarrel with the judgment that in his day he was the most prolific and successful screenwriter in Hollywood. He was a consummate storyteller, an impeccable craftsman, an uncompromising yet compassionate observer of his fellow man with an almost old-fashioned fidelity to principle. Telling his story encourages us to be vigilant in recognizing and fighting against repression and injustice in our troubled times.”
After being presented her husband’s Oscar, an emotional Cleo Trumbo said, “I want to express appreciation to the people who pushed for the credits to be restored.”
Of the era of blacklisting, she said, “Earning a living was a precarious business back then. It was a time of fear and nobody was exempt.”
This was the second Academy Award for Trumbo. He won a motion picture story Oscar under his own name in 1975 for the 1956 film “The Brave One,” which he wrote under the pen name Robert Rich.