Oscar winners should keep a tight grip on their awards, and their heirs better have them under lock and key. In case of a mishap, the Academy isn’t likely to replace it.
Case in point: the supporting actress Oscar Hattie McDaniel won for “Gone With the Wind.” She willed it to Howard U., but her statuette was lost or stolen in the 1960s.
Efforts to recover the Oscar took on new life when Jill Watts wrote last year’s “Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White Hollywood” and nudged the school to ask AMPAS for a replacement.
But it looks like Howard should get used to making do without McDaniel’s Oscar.
In a letter sent Jan. 17, Academy exec director Bruce Davis said the Acad “rarely reissues statuettes when the actual recipient asks for a replacement. We have never replaced a statuette that has fallen out of the care of an inheriting individual or institution.”
To soften the news, Davis sent the school a photo of McDaniel from the Academy’s archives. He hopes the original statuette resurfaces and wrote that “if one day it should crop up on eBay,” AMPAS will use “the available legal means” to return it to Howard.
Howard Theater Arts Dept. chairman Joe Selmon says the Academy response was “fair and sensitive,” but as far as recovering the lost statuette, “there are no leads.”