Oscars: Joan Rivers Left Out of In Memoriam Tribute

The Academy Awards’ “In Memoriam” segment offered an egalitarian salute to a broad range of industry figures who died during the past 12 months.

The segment presented by Meryl Streep gave equal time to Golden Age legends and below-the-line veterans. In a departure from past years, there were no clips for any of the more recognizable names but rather a series of stylized photo illustrations. Academy officials have long urged attendees to avoid giving the impression that the tribute is a popularity contest by holding applause until the end.

The segment opened with Mickey Rooney followed by director Paul Mazursky and was applause-free, as far as telecast viewers could discern, in the Dolby Theater until the final image of director Mike Nichols flashed on screen.

Joan Rivers was a notable omission from the on-air list. The comedian who died at 80 in September had a limited film resume, to be sure, but she became a fixture of Hollywood’s awards season for her caustic red carpet hosting gigs. She also directed the 1978 Billy Crystal comedy “Rabbit Test.”

By contrast, film critic Charles Champlin made the cut. So did Maya Angelou, novelist-writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez and artist-designer H.R. Giger. Oscar watchers also noted that actress Polly Bergen, who had a memorable role in 1962’s “Cape Fear,” among other pics, was not mentioned on air although she like Rivers is featured in a photo gallery on the Oscars.com website.

Many viewers took to social media to cry foul on Rivers’ absence from the televised tribute, prompting the Academy to issue a statement: “Joan Rivers is among the many worthy artists and filmmakers we were unfortunately unable to feature in the In Memoriam segment of this year’s Oscar show. She is, however, included in our In Memoriam gallery on Oscar.com.”

Robin Williams was among the tragic losses recognized. The Oscar winner for “Good Will Hunting” committed suicide in August at the age of 63.

Swedish director Malik Bendjelloul was a phenom who went all the way with his first film, 2012 documentary “Searching for Sugar Man,” and was found dead at 36 in May, a little more than a year after winning the Oscar for his first film.

Luise Rainer, the first actor to log back-to-back Oscar wins, for 1936’s “The Great Ziegfeld” and 1937’s “The Good Earth,” got another nod from the Academy tonight, despite having mostly turned her back on Hollywood since the 1940s. Anita Ekberg and James Shigeta were also names from a distant era remembered by the Acad.

Highly regarded actors with long careers noted included Eli Wallach, Bob Hoskins, James Garner, Ruby Dee, Elizabeth Pena, Edward Herrmann, Virna Lisi and James Rebhorn. Renowned cinematographers Gordon Willis and Oswald Morris were recognized, as were writers Lorenzo Semple Jr., Stewart Stern and L.M. Kit Carson. Innovative makeup man Dick Smith was featured, after getting a shoutout earlier in the telecast from makeup/ hairstyling winner Mark Coulier (who shared his Oscar with Frances Hannon for “The Grand Budapest Hotel”).

Industry executives represented in the posthumous honor roll included Menachem Golan, the colorful Israeli-born head of Cannon Films, the shop behind so many 1980s action pics; Frank Yablans, former president of Paramount; marketing mavens Nadia Bronson and Sanford Reisenbach; producers Samuel Goldwyn Jr. and Alan Hirschfield, to name a few.

Though several notable film business figures died early in 2014, including Philip Seymour Hoffman, Harold Ramis, Shirley Temple and “Midnight Rider” camera assistant Sarah Jones, they were included in last year’s segment.

The segment closed with Jennifer Hudson singing the ballad “I Can’t Let Go,” an original song from the NBC musical drama series “Smash,” which was exec produced by Oscar telecast producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.

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  1. Pamela Bryson says:

    I still am very upset for the academy leaving out Denis Farina in their rememberance video of those that had passed in 2014. He appeared in 37 movies and had a television career from 1983 until his final role in 2014. I feel you disgraced his memory and work. Instead it was all about a young man who was mainly a TV personality and died tragically at a very young age. I didn’t understand why he was so generously tributed at the Oscars since he already had a I wonderful eulogy at the Emmy’s. But yet a huge production was put on for his loss. I know he was a great guy but this rememberance was supposed to be about their body of work. For the academy to not include Denis Farina was a disgrace. You eulogized a TV personality just because it was news worthy and popular. Shame on you, Shame on you!!! Denis Farina deserved recognition for his work.

  2. Tiboo says:

    Was Shirley temple, the child star featured? She died in 2014

  3. Amy says:

    Why in the world would Joan Rivers be mentioned????? She wasn’t an actor. So who friggen cares if she wasn’t mentioned.

  4. patsy brown says:

    the academy not mentioning shirley temple in their memorial was one of the stupidest things i have ever seen she the greatest child stars hollywood has ever had esther williams was also not mentioned one of the biggest stars of the forties yet they had people on the list most people never heard of the oscars are getting to be so boring they will soon be obsolete

  5. shemitch says:

    I thought she was mentioned in last year’s cermony. Wasn’t she? Along with Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

  6. Lynn says:

    Such a disgrace. The Academy Awards lost ratings and credibility this year. It is no wonder.

  7. Daniel L says:

    Beyond the indredible Joan Rivers, I find it interesting that the Academy ignored several other people in their In Memoriam, among them the very VERY talented voice actress Christine Cavanaugh and Swedish actor and OSCAR NOMINEE Lars-Erik ‘Brasse’ Brännström…but, I suppose these people aren’t sexy super-stars.

  8. Lizzy D says:

    It truly sadden me to see Joan River’s not in the memorial of stars that passed, I personally thing a special clip should have been with Joan on the red carpet, interviewing celebrities from past Oscars, they would have loved that as her fans. People will say she was a comedian, but she was more than that. She appeared in movies not many but some, she was an actor on the Broadway stage, television, and hysterical on the comedic stage. She made the Oscars or any award show a little more fun, and many fans including the celebrities will miss her say, “who are you wearing”, then a witty remark that would follow. Many people might say she didn’t belong all she did was put down people, but that was her role as a comedian and those celebrities knew they made it if Joan has something to say about them, they welcomed it. And to those who say she didn’t because for one reason or another, as I heard Joan say many times as she joked in raspy voice, “haters gotta hate”.

  9. NoGuff says:

    She wasn’t “left out,” her career didn’t warrant inclusion. She made contributions to TELEVISION not CINEMA. Her inclusion in the Emmys’ memoriam would have been completely appropriate. H.R. Giger was included for his contributions to CINEMA, regardless of his number of credits, his design work in cinema is ICONIC. I really can’t believe a writer for Variety would make such a mistaken assumption and commentary. Journalism is such a joke these days.

    • Daniel L says:

      And Charles Champlin was a journalist writer and film critic. HIS film ‘career’ is non-existant. But strangely enough, he was deemed fit to be included. Joan Rivers had credits as director, writer and actor, BEYOND the MASSIVE impact she had on the Oscars and the red carpet. So, your argument is void.

  10. In My Opinion, Joan Rivers was worthy of being mentioned; and it is disappointing she was left out of this honor.

  11. Charmain glass says:

    I’ve always wondered if the stars felt that their big night was hijacked? They put all of this work into their role, got nominated, then had to walk a gauntlet to get to the show. Even if they won, their victory could easily be overshadowed by insults about what they wore. Maybe this was the Academy’s way of showing its displeasure.

  12. Wm Bond says:

    outrageous snobs NP Harris whom I usually like was awful… I’ll never watch again

  13. Virginia G. Taurasi says:

    Did Joan Rivers belong to the Screen Actors Guild? I believe that the Oscar’s only mention those who have current membership in the Screen Actors Guild.

  14. T Todd says:

    Donna Douglas was left off the list too .. wasn’t she in the remake of BHB back in 1993..?

  15. A Fischer says:

    Joan Rivers was a fashion journalist she had nothing to do with movies in front of or behind the screen. She was not an actress..come on peeps

  16. Hayat Gul says:

    Nobody missed a mean woman like her who wished death on innocent children

  17. deborah says:

    In North Korea, you are executed for saying bad things about your president. In America, you are dissed at the Oscars.

  18. janwilson515 says:

    The article says that the Academy didn’t want it to be a popularity contest so they didn’t let the viewing audience hear the applause. HOWEVER I did notice that Robin William’s (and a few others) photo stayed up much longer than a lot of the lesser known people. So…how is that not playing the popularity game?

  19. janwilson515 says:

    Over the years Joan has been mean, nasty, and gone out of her way to humiliate people. She took joy in embarrassing undeserving people. After decades of this the Academy gave her a perfectly fitting tribute: they ignored her. When the class bully gets hurt, you don’t feel sorry for them. Example, she attacked poor Adele who had just had a baby and done nothing to deserve being Joan’s target. So I thought it was fitting when everyone defended Adele and told Joan “Well, at least Adele’s husband didn’t commit suicide rather than be married to her.” What comes around goes around, Joan.

    • steveleenow says:

      Mean, nasty?!? She was a brilliant improvisational insult comic who specialized in humour that was often black and shockworthy. The very basis of her kind of comedy was almost borderline satirical in that it’s purpose was to make you feel shocked but to also laugh too. We take things too seriously as a society!

      So many get mad at her for it but no one gets mad at Don Rickles, Rodney Dangerfield or Bob Hope who were also notable insult comics. But then people have had gripes with Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog; Sam Kinison and Lisa Lampenelli.

      • Jo Gary says:

        Rodney Dangerfield was not an insult comic. Rickles never mocked young cancer patients or the deaf. The years her jealous, self-loathing schtick were spent on ridiculing Elizabeth Taylor for the crime of adding a few pounds due to a medical condition played a part. And, of course, who could forget the great joy she took in celebrating Israel’s high-tech slaughter of 586 Palestinian children. The Academy did the right thing in omitting this sad joke of a person’s name.

  20. helen mccole says:

    ………………not only Joan Rivers was left out but Skye McCole Bartusiak who has made 20 or 30 films in her young 20 years and has been in the news constantlyAnd she was our youngest loss..Furthermore,they made the actors look like cartoons characters in the tribute and Robin Williams was just thrown in there anywhere with total disregard.They should show a quick movie clip and a recent picture.These actors deserve due respect for years of what, let’s face it, is many times just hard labor with low pay as some people don’t realize.The Academy is disgusting and owes a public apology.

  21. Bob says:

    I wouldn’t expect any less from leftsit Hollyweird.

  22. thesteelgeneral says:

    Good that Rivers was snubbed, she was a vile woman. If you can only get attention by being dishonest and nasty, you don’t deserve to be remembered.

  23. Lizabeth Scott should also have been included.

  24. capoprimo says:

    Hypocrisy is alive and well in Hollywood!

  25. The omission of Joan Rivers is not a first. The Academy in recent decades has been negligent in omitting other well-known persons with box office film credits from the Memoriam Tribute. Names that come to mind include Andy Griffith, James Arness, Sonny Bono, Jonathan Brandis, John Denver, and Russell Means.

  26. Rushisright2 says:

    The Oscar scam is nothing more than an opinion contest which is used as a poor excuse to make political statements. These statements do nothing more that serve to cheapen the event Hollywooders have deluted themselves into believing has meaning. It is, afterall, run by liberals who live on a different planet. Has anybody ever asked them what is thecolor of the sky in their world?

    • grandmal006 says:

      I agree with you! I am almost 70 yrs old. Yrs ago I enjoyed watching the Oscars,they are now boring and too political.

  27. edword says:

    There are apparently two Americas now; and right and a left. Left hates right for not being tolerant and inclusive but holds the world heavyweight title in hypocrisy. Both sides despise each other like never before and nights like last won’t help things get better anytime soon.

  28. Sofia says:

    Having lost my parents I agree with the above. J.K. Simmon’s speech touched my heart.

  29. Elbert says:

    am I the only person that is commenting that SHIRLY TEMPLE wasn’t listed in the memorial section either? One would think that in her time she was HUGE

    • janwilson515 says:

      Yes, you’re the only person. That’s because the rest of us can READ. She died within the time frame to be included in last year’s memoriam. This is clearly stated in the article.

    • frank says:

      Did you read the article? Shirley Temple, among others who died early in 2014 were included LAST YEAR.

  30. danny rose says:

    Instead of the entertainment industry catering to children screaming from every corner of the political diamond, why not simply honor those that pass with fond memories. Excluding Joan Rivers is like excluding WC Fields or Rodney Dangerfield. Their razor wit keeps it all in perspective. Instead, the idiots of the academy put up with useless cheap political shots, and politically correct blabber? Disgraceful.

    • Jo Gary says:

      Razor wit? Like when she’d stick her fingers up her throat to simulate gagging? Or make bathroom noises to signal scorn? Rodney Dangerfield was pithy and hilarious and beloved. The only people who loved Joan Rivers were neurotic, low class, uneducated, morally bankrupt scum.

  31. Jo Gary says:

    The Academy properly did not honor the execrable Joan Rivers. Her crass, tasteless, biliously jealous jokes about Elizabeth Taylor decades back set the tone for a career built on self-loathing and hate. When she cackled in glee at Israel’s high-tech slaughter of 586 Palestinian children last summer, she put herself beyond the pale of human decency.

  32. Off Duty says:

    It’s kinda like the Nobel peace prize now, eh?

  33. Bill says:

    She was reckless with her comments and hurt a lot of people…. here is an example from last year.http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/07/04/joan-rivers-shocking-comments-about-barack-and-michelle/

  34. Gabriel says:

    Did they remember Louis Jourdan?

  35. Reginald Thornton says:

    Joan committed the sin of criticizing someone who had criticized Israel.

  36. Bob Dee says:

    Some say Joan’s comments about Obama and his wife got her career “shortened”. No doubt those comments kept her from being noted/recognized by the gaggle of Obamabots at the Oscars.

  37. al says:

    The Oscars used to be somewhat classy. Now they’re being used as springboards for agendas of many a fool….same tyhing for the Grammys. The America I love has become, mean, spiteful. Hollywood used to be fascinating…now its just a garbage depot.

    • “Garbage dump.” Perfect.

      • KME40 says:

        I agree with you. I am so tired if the agenda hyped holier-than-thou pushed message films that are constantly being shoved down our throats by the most intolerant group of people ever. Because if you don’t accept their policies you are black-balled, scourged and raked over the coals. There is no open honest conversation.

    • Bob Dee says:

      Ya, can’t remember Bob Hope or Johnny Carson appearing as Oscar MCs in their y-fronts.

  38. C. Kyle says:

    They forgot Shirley Temple. Sad

    • Reginald Thornton says:

      The article pointed out that she and a few others that died so early in 2014 were honored by last year’s show.

  39. hitman says:

    Hollyweird was more interest in some dude walking around in his underwear!

  40. David Powell says:

    Joan should have been included. Not just for her acting, but for her being the first woman to host a Late Night Talk Show and for her decades of Red Carpet work at the Academy Awards. What is the point to insult her like this? Maybe some of the people making the decision were thin skinned and since they couldn’t compete with her in life they wanted to snub her in death. Very small of them if that is the case. Very small.

  41. JD says:

    Before the internet, loonies like those who comment here were invisible. I liked it better then. Geez, people are crazy.

  42. Maxwell Williams says:

    …obviously Joan Rivers was not ommited by error if she’s on the website, someone didn’t want her included and Zadan and Meron should be asked why.

  43. a p garcia says:


  44. Fox Mulder says:

    Joan Rivers was never mentioned is because she was murdered by the Secret Service and because she dared to tell the truth about Obama and his transgender companion

    • Jo Gary says:

      Joan Rivers choked on her own bile. I personally think that some higher power eradicated her. Her hate and bile just became too much to bear.

  45. HOLLYWOOD is a Dung filled POOL OF RATS and FILTH.. I Never go movies or watch T.V MAKE YA A IDIOT! and your kids ADHD yrs of T.V and short segment commercials.. GET THEM OUT FROM IN FRONT OF T.V and games.

  46. richard says:

    This pathetic broadcast seemed like one long, extended commercial for political cause after political cause’ from people with disabilities, to social injustice, to the plight of negroes, to unequal pay for women, for illegal immigrants, but they effectively suppressed the american sniper-military coverage to a nanosecond. Get these loathsome liberals out of power and control of this country!

  47. Dave Andrews says:

    Has she been in a film? The Academy Awards are for film only not television, radio, modeling, etc. I don’t remember her being in a film. Maybe she wrote, produced or directed one, which would mean she should have been in there. I just don’t remember. I always thought of her as a television person, but if she was in any movies, then she should have been included.

  48. Steve says:

    The Hollywood crowd is much to liberal for Joan plus she graduated with honors. Something like that they find intimidating.

    • Jo Gary says:

      Graduated with honors. I’m sure h.s. dropouts Robert Mitchum,.Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Lee Marvin, Orson Welles, Charles Bronson, Clark Gable,.Al.Pacino, etc., etc. found that intensely intimidating. Joan Rivers was an imbecile and a dullard. Because you do well in school says nothing about how smart or imaginative you are. I doubt she ever readca book in her life. Plus, her values were so warped. There’s a Yiddish word for what Joan Rivers was: Prust (Dirt)

  49. Sheila Dix says:

    I don’t know if Joan Rivers was a member of the Academy. She wasn’t politically correct. Wikipedia lists her Filmography with more than 20 contributions dating back to 1965.Last year the Academy paid tribute to Roger Ebert. Was he a writer, director or an actor? She created a genre where one didn’t exist. The Academy should rename it the Rivers Red Carpet.

  50. Lupe Torez says:

    Obama had her killed for telling the truth about him and Michael O. And he had Jay Leno fired for daring to make fun of the messiah.

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