Oprah Winfrey and James Earl Jones to receive honorary Oscars

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Oprah Winfrey, James Earl Jones and pioneering makeup artist Dick Smith were chosen Tuesday night by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to receive the Governors Awards. Jones and Smith are the recipients of the Honorary Award, while Winfrey will be presented with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

The awards will be handed out at the Academy’s 3rd Annual Governors Awards dinner Nov. 12 at the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland.


Jones, 80, the second African American to earn a lead actor Oscar nomination, made his Broadway debut in 1957 and his film debut in Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 classic ‘Dr. Strangelove.’ He’s earned two Tony Awards for lead actor in a drama for 1969’s ‘The Great White Hope’ and for 1987’s ‘Fences.’ He became the second African American to earn a best actor Oscar nomination -- after Sidney Poitier -- for reprising his role in 1970’s ‘The Great White Hope.’ Besides lending his booming baritone as the voice of Darth Vader in the ‘Star Wars’ movies, Jones has appeared in such films as ‘Coming to America,’ ‘Field of Dreams’ and the original ‘Conan the Barbarian.’ He was on Broadway this season with Vanessa Redgrave in ‘Driving Miss Daisy.’

Talk show host/producer/philanthropist Winfrey, 57, is one of the most influential women in the world. Besides her 25 years hosting her own show and now operating the OWN television network, Winfrey’s philanthropic endeavors include Oprah’s Angel Network, the Oprah Winfrey Foundation and the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. An acclaimed actress, she was nominated for supporting actress for her film debut in Steven Spielberg’s 1985 drama, ‘The Color Purple.’

The 89-year-old Smith is known as ‘the godfather of makeup’ and started his career in 1945 as NBC’s first makeup person. Among his classic films are 1972’s The Godfather,’ 1973’s ‘The Exorcist’ and 1976’s ‘Taxi Driver.’ He won the Oscar for 1984’s ‘Amadeus.’ Smith also trained such contemporary makeup artists as Rick Baker, Carl Fullerton and Greg Cannom.

The Honorary Award is given to an individual for ‘extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy.’

The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award is given to an individual in the motion picture industry ‘whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry.’

Earlier in the evening, Tom Sherak was reelected to his third term as president of the academy by the Board of Governors as expected.


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--Susan King