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Actors Who Won Their First Awards Posthumously (After They Died)

Sometimes actors are celebrated during their long and illustrious careers. For those lucky ones, they can bask in the glow of the respect and admiration they are given from their peers and those in the press and awards committees voting for them. But some actors aren’t so lucky. They have the talent and skills to give award-winning performances, but unfortunately, are only given their first big award after their death. This sometimes happens when an actor puts in many years of incredible work, and after they die, they are finally appreciated. Or it happens when an actor dies tragically young. In these cases, we can often assume they would have gone on to win many more awards, but their life was sadly cut short. In this video, we’re taking a look at some of the actors who won big awards posthumously (aka after they died!)

Audrey Hepburn

Screen legend Audrey Hepburn had a career that spanned decades. She’s still regarded as one of the premier actresses of her time. In 1990 she filmed a series of documentaries called Gardens of the World with Audrey Hepburn. And while Hepburn didn’t actually die until January 21, 1993, the series was delayed in its release, so it wasn’t made available for viewing until January 22 of that year, one day after she died. But it was very well received, and earned Hepburn an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement. Although this wasn’t the biggest award Hepburn had achieved, it was an important piece of allowing Audrey to become an EGOT winner. She was the fifth-ever person to win a Tony, Oscar, Emmy, and Grammy.

Alice Pearce

If you were a fan of the classic sitcom, Bewitched, then you cvertinaly know Alice Pearce’s work. Her performance as Gladys Kravitz, the nosey and irritating neighbor to the primary couple was lauded by fans and critics alike. But her first big award for her performance didn’t come until 1966. She won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series that year. Unfortunately, Pearce had been battling ovarian cancer leading up to the awards. She passed away two months before they happened, and was given a posthumous Emmy for her stellar work.

Marion Lorne

Oddly enough, Alice Pearce wasn’t the only actor to win a posthumous award for their work on the sitcom Bewitched. Marion Lorne was a veteran actor who appeared on the show as Aunt Clara. Sadly, Lorne died in 1968, just ten days before that year’s Emmy ceremony took place. Lorne won one for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. Bewitched star Elizabeth Montgomery showed kindness in a tribute to Lorne when she appeared at the awards and accepted Lorne’s statue on her behalf.

Ingrid Bergman

Ingrid Bergman was a legendary Swedish actress who was highly lauded in her time. She starred in American and European movies, perhaps most notably the all-time great film, Casablanca. In all, Bergman won three Oscars, two Emmy’s, and a Tony award. The American Film Institute once ranked her as the fourth greatest ever female cinema star. Later in life she starred in a biopic TV mini-series about former Israeli Prime Minister Gold Meir. The series was called A Woman Called Golda. Sadly, Bergman was fighting breast cancer even as she filed the mini-series. In August of 1982, Bergman died from her bout with cancer. That same year, she was given an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie. It capped off an incredible career by a truly talented actress.

Raul Julia

Raul Julia was a daring and powerful actor who died far too young. He was a highly respected talent who tragically died in 1994 at age 44, after suffering from stomach issues that began after he had a stroke. He was born in Puerto Rico, and after moving to the U.S., had an acting career that was constantly on the rise. He starred in things as varied as The Man of La Mancha on Broadway, to the Adams Family movie. In 1994, Julia had a role in a TV movie called The Burning Season. Unfortunately, he became so sick while filming that he had to briefly stop. But he was able to recover just enough to finish filming. Sadly he then died in October of that year. In 1995 he was given a posthumous award for the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Special. It’s heartbreaking to think of all the great work Julia could have achieved had he lived longer.

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Sidney Howard

While not an actor, Sidney Howard certainly earned a spot on this list. He was the primary screenwriter of the epic movie Gone With The Wind. It was adapted from a book, and reportedly the process of turning it into a screenplay was arduous and difficult. Producer David O. Selznick apparently was constantly inserting himself into the writing process, among other issues. But Howard persevered and finished the now famous script. Sadly, not long after completing the script, Howard died of a terrible accident on a tractor. This was many months before the premiere of the movie. But he was awarded a posthumous Oscar at the 1940 awards, becoming the first person to ever receive one.

Peter Finch

If you’ve ever seen the intense and powerful film, Network, then you’ve likely admired Peter Finch’s virtuoso performance in it. Born in Australia, Finch played a TV news anchor named Howard Beale, who famously gets fed up with the way of the world, and goes a little nuts. The dark comedic-satire was praised by audiences and critics alike, and it still holds up today. Finch was actually on tour promoting the movie when he suddenly collapsed and died of a heart attack. He was only 60 years old at the time. It was an incredibly sad occurrence for an actor who has just turned in a legendary performance. Unfortunately, he thus wasn’t around to be handed his Oscar for Best Actor in 1977. The role also earned him a BAFTA award and a Golden Globe.

Diana Hyland

Diana Hyland won the Emmy for Outstanding Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Comedy or Drama Special in 1977 for her performance in the TV movie, The Boy In the Plastic Bubble. She turned in an incredible performance opposite John Travolta. The two even started to date during production, and continued for a short while afterward. But sadly, right after shooting ended, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. This was in early 1977, and by March of that year she had passed away.

Heath Ledger

It’s very hard to forget the incredible performance that Heath Ledger turned in for The Dark Knight. His turn as the infamous Batman villain, the Joker, turned heads and redefined what it meant to play a comic book villain. Ledger reportedly went ‘method’ in his preparation for the role, as well as during shooting, and didn’t stop playing the character even when the camera were off. It certainly paid off when it came to his performance. He gave an epic performance of the insane bad guy, wowing audiences and critics alike. Sadly, the Australian-born actor didn’t live to receive his many accolades for the roles. A few months after filming The Dark Knight, Ledger died of an accidental drug overdose. This sent shockwaves through the industry, as Ledger had attained A-list status and was beloved by millions. He won a posthumous Academy Award for Best Actor in 2009.

Chadwick Boseman

The world was shocked by the passing of Chadwick Boseman in 2020. Boseman had secretly been fighting colon cancer for several years, and yet had continued acting with fervor during that time. He never slowed down, despite the disease ravaging his body. And in that period he filmed his legendary part in the Black Panther movie (with appearances as Black Panther in other Marvel movies as well.) Boseman seemed to be in the prime of his career, and was expected to be an actor who turned in stellar performances for years and years to come. But sadly, this was cut short when he succumbed to cancer on August 28, 2020 at the age of 43. Before he died, Boseman was in the Netflix film, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. At the 2021 Golden Globe awards, Boseman won a posthumous award for Best Actor. Truly an acting legend taken from us far too soon.

So there you have it – a handful of great actors and actresses who sadly passed away before they were given one final big award. These posthumous winners were rightfully lauded for their work, despite having passed on before they could be given. It’s a bittersweet thing to remember actors who won posthumous awards, because it makes us not only remember their excellent work, but also their often untimely deaths too. This is especially true about young acting legends like Chadwick Boseman and Heath Ledger, who both died far too young.

Now it’s time to hear from you. Which one of these legends was your favorite? Did you see any of the works they were given posthumous awards for? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. And before you go, make sure you give this video a like, and subscribe to Facts Verse if you haven’t already. Click the bell icon to stay updated on all our latest content!

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