Sidney Poitier, Betty White and Ivan Reitman received heartfelt tributes on Oscar Sunday as part of the annual In Memoriam segment.
Tyler Perry paid homage to Poitier before the opening of the segment, remembering the legendary actor and director’s contributions to the indsutry.
“He was the first, and for far too long, the only Black man to win an Oscar for best actor,” Perry said of Poitier, who made history with his win in 1964. “When he stood on that stage, he did more than shatter a barrier. He stood there for all that came before him, and sparked the dreams of all who followed. To quote Mr. Poitier himself, ‘As the cats say in my area, I’m out there wailing for us all.’ I would not be here today without Sidney. All of us are so blessed and honored to have been inspired by him. To you, sir, with all of our love.”
Poitier died on Jan. 7 at 94. His legendary filmography includes “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” “In the Heat of the Night,” “The Defiant Ones,” “To Sir, With Love,” “Paris Blues,” “They Call Me Mister Tibbs” and “Lilies of the Field,” for which he earned his Oscar.
Bill Murray then appeared on stage to honor filmmaker Reitman, who died on Feb. 13.
“When Ivan Reitman was 10 years old, his parents gave him a sleeping pill and put him in the deck of a boat to escape Czechoslovakia. He made some pretty good movies, he married a girl, they raised some children and they make movies, too. Ivan, I love your work,” he said, as the audience broke into applause.
Murray starred in many of Reitman’s films, including “Meatballs,” “Stripes” the three “Ghostbusters” movies.
Jamie Lee Curtis, with a puppy in hand, then celebrated TV legend and trailblazing animal rights activist White, who died Dec. 31, 2021, at 99.
“She was not only a Golden Girl, she was a legend who brightened every room she walked in, and brought a smile to the faces of all who watched her on the screen. And day in and day out, for almost a century, she was a woman who cared so much for not just her two-legged friends, but for animals just like this. So the greatest gift you could give Betty White is to open your heart and your home and adopt a rescue dog, just like Archie. Just Mike Mac and Cheese from Paw Works. Thank you, Betty, for being a friend to us all.”
White and Curtis starred together in the 2010 rom-com “You Again,” along with Kristen Bell and Sigourney Weaver. While White’s fame over her lengthy career came primarily from television series such as “Golden Girls” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” she had some memorable movie roles as well.
The In Memoriam portion of the telecast also paid tribute to Michael K. Williams, Sally Kellerman, Jean-Marc Vallée, Peter Bogdanovich and cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, among others, while notable omissions included Bob Saget, Ed Asner and Norm Macdonald.