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8 Academy Award Nominees and Winners Who Snubbed the Oscars

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During the first lines of Annie Hall, Alvy Singer explains his failed relationships with women through an old joke he attributes to Groucho Marx and Freud: "I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member." When the movie took home four Oscars the following year, Woody Allen was nowhere in sight on the dais. Although he has more nominations than any writer in history (fourteen — or twenty-three when you include best director and actor nods), not once has Allen attended the ceremony when he’s up for an award. Is it the old joke about not wanting to be a member of any club that would have him?

If so, he’s not the only one. Every year we hear a lot about who got snubbed by the Academy for a nomination, but what about the reverse? Since the 1930s, some of Hollywood’s brightest stars didn’t bother to R.S.V.P. when the Academy came calling. Here’s a list of nominees and winners who snubbed the Oscars.

1. Dudley Nichols

Nichols was a prominent screenwriter beginning in the 1930s. In a career that spanned over 35 years, his credits included movies like Bringing Up Baby, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and the movie that made John Wayne a star: Stagecoach. He won an Oscar for The Informer (1935), a script he adapted from a book about the Irish War of Independence. He became the first winner to decline the award, citing an ongoing writer’s strike. Perhaps as a reward for his loyalty, he was elected president of the writer’s guild a few years later.

2. Katharine Hepburn

Hollywood’s greatest leading lady was nominated for twelve Oscars and won four for leading roles--a record. She never attended the ceremony when she was nominated, although she proudly displayed her statues for visitors at her home in Connecticut. She broke her tradition of non-attendance in 1974 to present producer Lawrence Weingarten a Thalberg Award, where she had this to say: “I’m very happy that I didn’t hear anyone call out ‘it’s about time.’ I am living proof that a person can wait forty-one years to be unselfish.” Watch the video here.

3. George C. Scott

Is it possible to refuse even a nomination for an Oscar? Scott, most remembered for his roles as Patton and the looney General Turgidson in Dr. Strangelove, did just that when he was first nominated for The Hustler. He didn’t win that time, but he did for Patton in 1970. Scott literally telegraphed the Academy his intention to refuse the award before the ceremony, so when presenter Goldie Hawn ripped open the envelope and cried, “Oh my God! The winner is George C. Scott,” no one was surprised to learn he was home at his farm in New York. The former Marine didn’t mince words about the Oscars: "The ceremonies are a two-hour meat parade, a public display with contrived suspense for economic reasons." Watch the film’s producer accept the award for him here.

4. Marlon Brando

A couple years after Scott skipped the Oscars, Brando one-upped him by sending an Apache named Sacheen Littlefeather to refuse the Oscar he won for The Godfather. Littlefeather was booed and catcalled when she announced she was sent to protest Hollywood’s treatment of Native Americans. Clint Eastwood wondered aloud a few moments later whether he ought not be presenting the Best Picture award because of all the slain cowboys in John Ford movies before him. It was later reported that Littlefeather wasn’t a Native American at all, and that she was in fact a Mexican actress named Maria Cruz. She explains her ancestry on her website. Watch the video of her speech here.

5. Terrence Malick

Writer/director Malick has never won an Oscar, but The Thin Red Line was nominated for seven of them in 1999. Despite an abundance of possibility, Malick skipped the ceremonies, in part because he was in the middle of a falling out with several of the film’s producers. In the end it was just as well--his World War II epic didn't win any of the awards it was nominated for. This year, Malick is nominated for best director for The Tree of Life.

6. Woody Allen

Although he’s never shown up on the night of his own nominations, Allen has made one appearance on the Oscar stage. In 2002, less than six months after the September 11th attacks, Allen appeared to introduce a montage of films that had been made in New York, telling the audience that the Big Apple was still a wonderful place to make movies. Watch his entertaining and sincere stand-up routine:

About the awards themselves, Allen had this to say: "I have no regard for that kind of ceremony. I just don't think they know what they're doing. When you see who wins those things -- or who doesn't win them -- you can see how meaningless this Oscar thing is."

7. Jean-Luc Godard

In late 2010 the Academy announced they would award the titan of French New Wave an honorary Oscar. They quickly discovered he was not an easy man to get in touch with. Despite attempts to contact him via “telephone, by fax, by emails to various friends and associates,” and “FedEx,” they never received a reply from Godard, who was just shy of eighty years old then. According to some sources, Godard doesn’t just have a contentious history with Hollywood--he also avoids flying because he can’t smoke on planes. Adding to the controversy was the suggestion in some quarters that Godard didn’t deserve the award because of perceived anti-Semitism. Although Godard never gave a reason for his non-attendance, his long-time partner had this to say: “Jean-Luc won’t go to America, he’s getting old for that kind of thing. Would you go all that way just for a bit of metal?”

8. Banksy

The anonymous British street artist was nominated last year for best documentary feature with Exit Through the Gift Shop, his tongue-in-cheek meditation on the value of art in society. Banksy agreed to attend the ceremony, but only if he was allowed to do so without revealing his identity. When the Academy refused to accommodate his request he didn’t show. A few days before Oscar night, the above Mr. Brainwash mural popped up in L.A., which seemed to suggest an equivalency between Hollywood and the Galactic Empire. Unfortunately for the history of Oscar controversies, the golden statue went to Inside Job instead.

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The Sweet Surprise Reunion Mr. Rogers Never Saw Coming
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For more than 30 years, legendary children’s show host Fred Rogers used his PBS series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood to educate his young viewers on concepts like empathy, sharing, and grief. As a result, he won just about every television award he was eligible for, some of them many times over.

Rogers was gracious in accepting each, but according to those who were close to the host, one honor in particular stood out. It was March 11, 1999, and Rogers was being inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame, an offshoot of the Emmy Awards. Just before being called to the stage, out came a surprise.

The man responsible for the elation on Rogers’s face was Jeff Erlanger, a 29-year-old from Madison, Wisconsin who became a quadriplegic at a young age after undergoing spinal surgery to remove a tumor. Rogers was surprised because Erlanger had appeared on his show nearly 20 years prior in 1980 to help kids understand how people with physical challenges adapt to life’s challenges. Here's his first encounter with the host:

Reunited on stage after two decades, Erlanger referred to the song, “It’s You I Like,” which the two sang during their initial meeting. “On behalf of millions of children and grown-ups,” Erlanger said, “it’s you I like.” The audience, including a visibly moved Candice Bergen, rose to their feet to give both men a standing ovation.

Following Erlanger’s death in 2007, Hedda Sharapan, an employee with Rogers’s production company, called their poignant scene “authentic” and “unscripted,” and that Rogers often pointed to it as his favorite moment from the series.

Near the end of the original segment in 1980, as Erlanger drives his wheelchair off-camera, Rogers waves goodbye and offers a departing message: “I hope you’ll come back to visit again.”

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20 Things You Might Not Have Known About Firefly
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© 2002 Twentieth Century Fox

As any diehard fan will be quick to tell you, Firefly's run was far, far too short. Despite its truncated run, the show still offers a wealth of fun facts and hidden Easter eggs. On the 15th anniversary of the series' premiere, we're looking back at the sci-fi series that kickstarted a Browncoat revolution.

1. A CIVIL WAR NOVEL INSPIRED THE FIREFLY UNIVERSE.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Killer Angels from author Michael Shaara was Joss Whedon’s inspiration for creating Firefly. It follows Union and Confederate soldiers during four days at the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. Whedon modeled the series and world on the Reconstruction Era, but set in the future.

2. ORIGINALLY, THE SERENITY CREW INCLUDED JUST FIVE MEMBERS.

When Whedon first developed Firefly, he wanted Serenity to only have five crew members. However, throughout development and casting, Whedon increased the cast from five to nine.

3. REBECCA GAYHEART WAS ORIGINALLY CAST TO PLAY INARA.

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Before Morena Baccarin was cast as Inara Serra, Rebecca Gayheart landed the role—but she was fired after one day of shooting because she lacked chemistry with the rest of the cast. Baccarin was cast two days later and started shooting that day.

4. NEIL PATRICK HARRIS WAS ALMOST DR. SIMON TAM.

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Before it went to Sean Maher, Neil Patrick Harris auditioned for the role of Dr. Simon Tam.

5. JOSS WHEDON WROTE THE THEME SONG.

Whedon wrote the lyrics and music for Firefly’s opening theme song, “The Ballad of Serenity.”

6. STAR WARS SPACECRAFT APPEAR IN FIREFLY.

Star Wars was a big influence on Whedon. Captain Malcolm Reynolds somewhat resembles Han Solo, while Whedon used the Millennium Falcon as inspiration to create Serenity. In fact, you can spot a few spacecraft from George Lucas's magnum opus on the show.

When Inara’s shuttle docks with Serenity in the pilot episode, an Imperial Shuttle can be found flying in the background. In the episode “Shindig,” you can see a Starlight Intruder as the crew lands on the planet Persephone.

7. HAN SOLO FROZEN IN CARBONITE POPS UP THROUGHOUT FIREFLY.

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Nathan Fillion is a big Han Solo fan, so the Firefly prop department made a 12-inch replica of Han Solo encased in Carbonite for the Canadian-born actor. You can see the prop in the background in a number of scenes.

8. ALIEN'S WEYLAND-YUTANI CORPORATION MADE AN APPEARANCE.

In Firefly’s pilot episode, the opening scene features the legendary Battle of Serenity Valley between the Browncoats and The Union of Allied Planets. Captain Malcolm Reynolds takes control of a cannon with a Weyland-Yutani logo inside of its display. Weyland-Yutani is the large conglomerate corporation in the Alien film franchise. (Whedon wrote Alien: Resurrection in 1997.)

9. ZAC EFRON'S ACTING DEBUT WAS ON FIREFLY.

A 13-year-old Zac Efron made his acting debut in the episode “Safe” in 2002. He played Young Simon in a flashback.

10. CAPTAIN MALCOLM REYNOLDS'S HORSE IS A WESTERN TROPE.

At its core, Firefly is a sci-fi western—and Malcolm Reynolds rides the same horse on every planet (it's named Fred).

11. FOX AIRED FIREFLY'S EPISODES OUT OF ORDER.

Fox didn’t feel Firefly’s two-hour pilot episode was strong enough to air as its first episode. Instead, “The Train Job” was broadcast first because it featured more action and excitement. The network continued to cherry-pick episodes based on broad appeal rather than story consistency, and eventually aired the pilot as the show’s final episode.

12. THE ALLIANCE'S ORIGINS ARE AMERICAN AND CHINESE.

The full name of The Alliance is The Anglo-Sino Alliance. Whedon envisioned The Alliance as a merger of American and Chinese government and corporate superpowers. The Union of Allied Planets’ flag is a blending of the American and Chinese national flags.

13. THE SERENITY LOUNGE SERVED AS AN ACTUAL LOUNGE.

Between set-ups and shots, the cast would hang out in the lounge on the Serenity set rather than trailers or green rooms.

14. INARA SERRA'S NAME IS MESOPOTAMIAN.

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Inara Serra is named after the Mesopotamian Hittite goddess, the protector of all wild animals.

15. THE CHARACTERS SWORE (JUST NOT IN ENGLISH).

The Firefly universe is a mixture of American and Chinese culture, which made it easy for writers to get around censors by having characters swear in Chinese.

16. THE UNIFORMS ARE RECYCLED FROM STARSHIP TROOPERS.

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The uniforms for Alliance officers and soldiers were the costumes from the 1997 science fiction film Starship Troopers. The same costumes were repurposed again for the Starship Troopers sequel.

17. "SUMMER!" MEANS SOMEONE MESSED UP.

Every time a cast member flubbed one of his or her lines, they would yell Summer Glau’s name. This was a running gag among the cast after Glau forgot her lines in the episode “Objects In Space.”

18. THE SERENITY SPACESHIP WAS BUILT TO SCALE.

The interior of Serenity was built entirely to scale; rooms and sections were completely contiguous. The ship’s interior was split into two stages, one for the upper deck and one for the lower. Whedon showed off the Firefly set in one long take to open the Serenity movie.

19. "THE MESSAGE" SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE SHOW'S FAREWELL.

Although “The Message” was the twelfth episode, it was the last episode filmed during Firefly’s short run. Composer Greg Edmonson wrote a piece of music for a funeral scene in the episode, which served as a final farewell to the show. Sadly, it was one of three episodes (the other two were “Trash” and “Heart of Gold”) that didn’t air during Firefly’s original broadcast run on Fox.

20. FIREFLY AND SERENITY WERE SENT TO THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION.

American Astronaut Steven Ray Swanson is a big fan of Firefly, so when he was sent to the International Space Station for his first mission (STS-117) in 2007, he brought DVD copies of Firefly and its feature film Serenity aboard with him. The DVDs are now a permanent part of the space station’s library.

This post originally appeared in 2014.

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