A great deal of controversy surrounded the awarding of an honorary Oscar to Elia Kazan, as there remained much lingering resentment stemming from his testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee 47 years earlier. In addition to a handful of protesters outside the theater, many members of the audience remained seated when he received his award and refused to even applaud.
With the exception of Frank Sinatra who was given a 'Special' Memorial Tribute, this was the first year that all of the actual actors featured in this year's In Memoriam tribute had never once been nominated, nor won an Oscar for an acting category. The one actress that died within the time period before this year's showing, Peggy Cass, was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Auntie Mame (1958), however she not featured in the tributes.
In this Oscar edition, Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench received nominations for playing the same character (Queen Elizabeth I) in different films and categories: Blanchett was nominated for Best Actress in Elizabeth (1998) while Dench got a Supporting Actress nomination (and win) for Shakespeare in Love (1998).