Los Angeles: Oprah Winfrey received an honorary Oscar for her charitable work on Saturday.
The legendary TV show host called the honour an ‘unimaginable moment’ for a black woman who grew up poor in Mississippi and rose to the top of Hollywood stardom.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences annually bestows its Governors Awards on people who have made an impact in the industry.
This year, the honorary Oscars went to Winfrey, James Earl Jones and makeup great Dick Smith that was attended by stars like John Travolta, Glenn Close and Alec Baldwin.
Talk show host and film actress Winfrey, who was nominated for a supporting-actress Academy Award in 1985’s The Colour Purple, was given a Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award by a young woman who was sent through high school on a financial grant she earned from Winfrey’s foundation.
Winfrey was in tears while accepting her honorary Oscar and called the moment as an “unimaginable” one given her humble roots growing up in Mississippi.
She talked of her career as a TV chat show host and her movie work, and said it was The Colour Purple that paved the way to stardom which, ultimately, led to philanthropy.
That movie “door opened to me through the magic and majesty of film,” she said.
James Earl Jones was given his honorary Oscar for a body of acting work that ranges from his Academy Award-nominated performance as a boxer in The Great White Hope to voicing the role of the villainous Darth Vader in the Star Wars movies.
The actor, however, could not be present on the occasion as he was working in London, but gave a speech that was taped earlier.
He said he was “deeply honoured, mighty grateful and just plain gobsmacked,” using British slang for being astounded.
Finally, the ‘Godfather of makeup’ Dick Simon was given an honorary Oscar for his behind-the-scenes work using makeup and prosthetics to make actors look old, dying and even dead in films ranging from The Exorcist to The Godfather.
Simon gave a tearful and heartfelt acceptance speech in which he said he has loved every minute of his work in the movies.
“This kind of puts the crowning cap on all that,” Simon said.
The Academy Awards for the films of 2011 will be given out in a ceremony in Los Angeles on February 26, 2012.