The waiting game

Sometimes, Oscar takes its time awarding deserving thesps, as these 10 prove

MORGAN FREEMAN
(born 6/1/37)

Signature persona: Sage, battle-weary voice of reason and authority

Pedigree: Appeared to great acclaim in the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical “The Gospel at Colonus” (1988) while steadily gaining a rep as one of the bigscreen’s most seasoned character actors.

Age when won first Oscar: 67 (2004’s “Million Dollar Baby”)

No. of previous film No. of previous film & TV credits: 55

No. of previous Oscar noms: 3 (1987’s “Street Smart,” 1989’s “Driving Miss Daisy,” 1994’s “The Shawshank Redemption”)

Post-Oscar: Tackles roles like there’s no tomorrow, with six films to his credit in 2005, including the omniscient narrators of “War of the Worlds” and “March of the Penguins.”

JUDI DENCH
(born 12/9/34)

Signature persona: No-nonsense, strong-willed woman of integrity

Pedigree: Grande dame of the London stage hails from the Royal Shakespeare Company and is a five-time BAFTA winner and four-time winner of the Laurence Olivier Theater Award.

Age when won first Oscar: 65 (1998’s “Shakespeare in Love”)

No. of previous film No. of previous film & TV credits: 38

No. of previous Oscar noms: 1 (1997’s “Mrs. Brown”)

Post-Oscar: Transformed James Bond’s boss M into a woman, received two more Oscar noms (2000’s “Chocolat,” 2001’s “Iris”) and is a contender this year for “Mrs. Henderson Presents.”

CLINT EASTWOOD
(born 5/31/30)

Signature persona: Laconic, squinty-eyed man of action

Pedigree: Enjoyed modest success as Rowdy Yates in TV series “Rawhide” before being catapulted to superstardom as the Man With No Name in Sergio Leone’s spaghetti Westerns and as rogue cop “Dirty Harry.”

Age when won first Oscar: 62 (as producer-director of 1992’s “Unforgiven”)

No. of previous film No. of previous film & TV credits: 48

No. of previous Oscar noms: 0

Post-Oscar: Seals rep as a filmmaking model of economy and efficiency, is given the Thalberg Award in 1995. In 2003, “Mystic River” played in competition at Cannes and earned him two Oscar noms, while he went on to win two more Oscars as producer-director of 2004’s “Million Dollar Baby.”

JESSICA TANDY
(6/7/07-9/11/94)

Signature persona: Classy, if cool, doyenne of British and American theater

Pedigree: Broadway’s original Blanche du Bois, Tandy tackled Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams with equal skill, and became one of Broadway’s leading ladies.

Age when won first Oscar: 82 (1989’s “Driving Miss Daisy”)

No. of previous film No. of previous film & TV credits: 31

No. of previous Oscar noms: 0

Post-Oscar: Worked for five more years, right up to her death, memorably in “Fried Green Tomatoes” (1991), for which she earned her second Oscar nom.

JACK PALANCE
(born 2/18/19)

Signature persona: Gaunt, menacing baddie in Westerns and film noirs

Pedigree: An ex-pugilist and WWII hero who replaced Brando (and accidentally broke his nose backstage) in “A Streetcar Named Desire” on Broadway.

Age when won first Oscar: 72 (1991’s “City Slickers”)

No. of previous film No. of previous film & TV credits: 91

No. of previous Oscar noms: 2 (1952’s “Sudden Fear” and 1953’s “Shane”)

Post-Oscar: After performing his infamous one-armed push-ups beside the Oscar podium, Palance’s career has enjoyed a second renaissance as a parody of himself.

PETER FINCH
(9/28/16-1/14/77)

Signature persona: “Network’s” suicidal news anchor Howard (“I’m mad as hell”) Beale

Pedigree: Classically trained actor who hailed from the uniquely hard-drinking, hell-raising school of Brits that produced Richard Harris, Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole.

Age when won first Oscar: 60 (for 1976’s “Network”)

No. of previous film No. of previous film & TV credits: 48

No. of previous Oscar noms: 1 (1971’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday”)

Post-Oscar: To this day the only actor to win the Oscar posthumously. Finch played one other role after “Network,” as Yitzhak Rabin in the 1977 feature “Raid on Entebbe.”

GERALDINE PAGE
(11/22/24-6/13/87)

Signature persona: Method acting diva of the New York stage

Pedigree: Gained fame for her interpretations of Tennessee Williams on both stage and screen, most memorably in “Summer and Smoke” and “Sweet Bird of Youth.”

Age when won first Oscar: 61 (1985’s “The Trip to Bountiful”)

No. of previous film No. of previous film & TV credits: 38

No. of previous Oscar noms: 7 (1953’s “Hondo,” 1961’s “Summer and Smoke,” 1962’s “Sweet Bird of Youth,” 1966’s “You’re a Big Boy Now,” 1972’s “Pete ‘n’ Tilly,” 1978’s “Interiors,” 1984’s “The Pope of Greenwich Village”)

Post-Oscar: Starred in only three more features before dying of a heart attack during the Broadway revival of Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit.”

JAMES COBURN
(8/31/28-11/18/02)

Signature persona: Lanky, manly team player whose charisma ranged from quick-witted & affable to rugged & taciturn.

Pedigree: Studied acting at UCLA before being coached in New York under the legendary Stella Adler. Held his own with McQueen & Co. in “The Magnificent Seven” and “The Great Escape” before starring in a number of Peckinpah classics, not to mention his hipster Yank version of Bond in “Our Man Flint” and “In Like Flint.”

Age when won first Oscar: 71 (for 1999’s “Affliction”)

No. of previous film No. of previous film & TV credits: 87

No. of previous Oscar noms: 0

Post Oscar: Didn’t quite get the roles that his Oscar and deep well of experience afforded him, but worked steadily until his death in 2002.

JOHN WAYNE
(5/26/07-6/11/79)

Signature persona: Ambling, hawkish, larger-than-life hero of Westerns and WWII action yarns

Pedigree: USC football scholarship athlete and prop man on the Fox lot before becoming a favorite leading man for John Ford, who helped “the Duke” cultivate an image of mythic proportions.

Age when won first Oscar: 63 (1969’s “True Grit”)

No. of previous film No. of previous film & TV credits: 158

No. of previous Oscar noms: 2 (1949’s “Sands of Iwo Jima,” 1960’s “The Alamo”)

Post-Oscar: Continued playing gritty old toughs, mostly in Westerns, reprising his Oscar-winning “True Grit” role in “Rooster Coburn” (1975) opposite Katharine Hepburn.

JOHN HOUSEMAN
(9/22/02-10/31/88)

Signature persona: Glowering, dyspeptic professorial type who didn’t suffer fools gladly

Pedigree: With his penchant for the avant garde, Houseman co-founded the Mercury Theater with Orson Welles and went on to distinguish himself as a producer of film, stage and television.

Age when won first Oscar: 71 (1973’s “The Paper Chase”)

No. of previous film No. of previous film & TV credits: 33 (as writer, director, producer, actor)

No. of previous Oscar noms: 1 (as producer of 1954’s “Julius Caesar”)

Post-Oscar: With “The Paper Chase,” Houseman’s acting career actually began in earnest, with 41 more film and TV credits, but most people remember him best as the pitchman for Smith Barney (“We make money the old-fashioned way; we earn it.”)

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