Classic Hollywood #105 – Barbara Stanwyck Receives An Oscar

Barbara Stanwyck Thanks “Golden Boy” For Her Honorary Oscar 1982

In a six decade career Barbara Stanwyck (1907-1990) received four Academy Award nominations for Best Actress in a leading role.  The films were Stella Dallas (1937); Ball of Fire (1941); Double Indemnity (1944) and Sorry, Wrong Number (1948). She did not win for any of these great performances in fine pictures.

Stanwyck and William Holden starred together in the 1939 film Golden Boy. It was Holden’s first starring role. And he was almost fired. But Barbara Stanwyck insisted Holden stay on the film. The two became lifelong friends.

At the April 3, 1978 Academy Awards presentation, William Holden and Barbara Stanwyck were reunited as co-presenters for the award for best sound.

This was the era before everyone handing out awards had every word scripted for them and was littered with politically correct, back-slapping fake accolades and bad jokes. What happened next was completely genuine, unrehearsed and quite touching as you will see by Stanwyck’s reaction.

Finally four years later on March 29, 1982, the Academy recognized Stanwyck with an honorary Oscar for “superlative creativity and unique contribution to the art of screen acting.”

In Stanwyck’s acceptance speech she thanked all the technical people who work on films. At the end of her speech Stanwyck returned the favor to single out one man – William Holden.

Unfortunately Holden had passed away four months earlier in an accident at age 63.

Barbara Stanwyck’s Heartfelt Speech

“Thank you. Thank you very much. I’d like to thank the Board of Governors of the Academy for giving me this special award. I tried many times to get it but I didn’t make it, so this is indeed very special to me. You don’t get them alone. There were writers, directors, producers; all their kindness to me through the many years. And the people backstage, the remarkable crews that we have the privilege of working with: the electricians, the property men, the stagehands, camera; they’re just marvelous. And my wonderful group, the stunt men and women who taught me so well. I’m grateful to them and I thank them very, very much.

A few years ago I stood on this stage with William Holden as a presenter. I loved him very much, and I miss him. He always wished that I would get an Oscar. And so tonight, my golden boy, you got your wish.”

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3 thoughts on “Classic Hollywood #105 – Barbara Stanwyck Receives An Oscar

  1. Kevin

    I remember that moment really well, particularly “Oh, Bill!” It’s so rare to see genuine unscripted emotion on these shows, especially when there’s nothing expected in return.


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