30 Oscar Winners Who Didn't Attend the Ceremonyby IMDb-Contributing-Writers | last updated - 17 Feb 2016
Not every actor or director dreams of making an Oscars acceptance speech. Several winners including Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor, and Katharine Hepburn had other things they chose to do on Oscar night. Whether because of politics, work or illness, these 30 stars skipped their big night. — Sharon Knolle
Katharine Hepburn's four Oscars are still a record for any actor, but she was never there to accept any of them. The actress, who was nominated 12 times in all, once said, "I can't say I believe in prizes. I was a whiz in the three-legged race – that's something you can win."
Although Marlon Brando accepted his Best Actor Oscar in person for 1955's On the Waterfront, in 1973, when he won Best Actor for The Godfather, he skipped the big show. Instead, a woman named Sacheen Littlefeather took the stage to refuse the award on his behalf in the name of Native American rights.
After receiving a Best Actor nomination for Patton, George C. Scott took an anti-Oscar stance that was so controversial, it landed on the cover of Time magazine. Surprisingly, he still won. The film's producer, Frank McCarthy, accepted the award on Scott's behalf at the 1971 ceremony, but returned it to the Academy the next day as the actor wished.
Jason Robards notified the Academy he wouldn't attend the 1978 Oscars (where he won for Julia, his second Best Supporting Actor Oscar in a row) because he was doing a play on Broadway. Although Robards wasn't making a political statement with his absence, host Bob Hope still joked, "I think he's playing bridge with Marlon Brandon and George Scott."
Woody Allen has routinely skipped the Oscars, even in 1978, when Annie Hall won Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Original Screenplay. He was also absent for his two other screenplay wins for Midnight in Paris and Hannah and Her Sisters. He did attend in 2002, as part of a post 9/11 tribute to New York.
After six acting nominations, Paul Newman finally won an Oscar for The Color of Money in 1987. But Newman, who had previously received two Honorary Oscars, did not attend the ceremony. As he told the Associated Press, "It's like chasing a beautiful woman for 80 years. Finally, she relents, and you say, 'I'm terribly sorry. I'm tired.'"
Michael Caine had one of the worst excuses ever for not attending the Oscars. In 1987, he was filming Jaws: The Revenge and missed his Best Supporting Actor win for Hannah and Her Sisters. He was there to accept his second Oscar for The Cider House Rules in 2000 and gave one of the humblest, most gracious speeches of all time.
Melvyn Douglas was not present to accept his Best Supporting Actor award for Being There in 1980 because he was sure he wouldn't win, saying beforehand, "It has been said an actor has no chance against a child or an animal. Justin Henry's up for Kramer vs. Kramer, and Mickey Rooney's up for The Black Stallion." He also skipped the ceremony in 1964 when he won an Oscar for Hud.
Since Let It Be was The Beatles final album (they broke up in 1970 shortly after making the album and its companion film), it's no surprise none of the members showed up to receive their Best Original Song Oscar in 1971.
Sophia Loren, the first to win an acting Oscar for a foreign language film (Vittorio De Sica's Two Women), was too nervous to attend in 1962. As she explained later, "I thought, 'If they do give it to me, I'm going to faint among the audience. So, it's better to faint at home.'" She was presented with her Best Actress award at her apartment in Rome two weeks later.
Alec Guinness was the favorite to win Best Actor in 1958 for The Bridge on the River Kwai but still didn't attend. He seemed a bit miffed later as he told the press the win had cost him a bottle of wine in a bet with a reporter. "I really didn't think I'd win it," he said. "I'd never have put money on myself."
Anastasia marked Ingrid Bergman's triumphant return to Hollywood after her scandalous affair with Roberto Rossellini. But she was a no-show when she was named Best Actress in 1957; good friend Cary Grant accepted on her behalf. She did collect her third Oscar (for 1978's Murder on the Orient Express) in person.
In 1953, Gary Cooper was filming in Mexico and couldn't make it to accept his Best Actor Award for High Noon. John Wayne accepted for him. Cooper was also absent for his 1961 Honorary Award. When Jimmy Stewart got choked up accepting the award on his behalf, everyone realized just how ill Cooper was. The actor died a month after the ceremony.
Kim Hunter, the 1952 Best Supporting Actress winner for A Streetcar Named Desire, opted not to attend the ceremony in Los Angeles. She listened over the radio while playing cards. The Oscars began airing on TV the following year in 1953.
In the 1951 race for Best Actress, newcomer Judy Holliday triumphed with Born Yesterday, beating out Bette Davis for All About Eve and Gloria Swanson for Sunset Blvd. She gave an acceptance speech from the New York Oscar party, where Swanson was also celebrating. But the radio connection was lost, and no one outside the room heard it.
This couldn't happen today, but in 1938, Alice Brady had her Best Supporting Actress prize for In Old Chicago stolen. She was home, reportedly due to a broken ankle, and an impostor claimed the plaque (statuettes weren't given to supporting actors until 1944). She was later given a replacement. Since she died soon after, the legend persists that she never got her award.