A Look at Previous Oscar Winners Who’ve Died From Pancreatic Cancer – Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
Glitz. Glamor. Masks with sequins (possibly). These are some of the things we expect to see at the 93rd Academy Awards airing on ABC today, Sunday, April 25, 2021.
Now known as The Oscars – after the iconic 8.5-pound, 13.5-inch gold statue – the award show celebrates what The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences considers the best in film for the previous calendar year.
The entertainment industry is no stranger to pancreatic cancer. From prolific directors to daring producers, talented actors to talented composers and everyone in between, pancreatic cancer makes no distinction no matter how successful, talented or famous you are.
Today we highlight a small group of Academy Award-winning legends who have passed away from pancreatic cancer. We will reflect on the art they have created and hope for a tomorrow full of better results for all.
Donna Reed (1921-1986)
Donna Reed received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the film From Here to Eternity in 1954. In the film, she played Alma “Lorene” Burke, girlfriend of Montgomery Clift’s character, Private Robert E. Lee “Prew” Prewitt.
The film won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.
Besides From Here to Eternity, Donna Reed is best known for the movie It’s a Wonderful Life and for playing the titular role on The Donna Reed Show.
Donna Reed died just three months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer just before her 65th birthday.
Eiko Ishioka (1938-2012)
Eiko Ishioka was the costume designer on Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 film Bram Stoker’s Dracula – it earned her an Academy Award for Best Costume Design. She was also nominated posthumously in the same category for her work on the 2012 film Mirror Mirror, but did not win.
Ishioka’s film career was only a fraction of what the multi-talented Japanese art director, costume designer and graphic designer had achieved in her career.
While you may not have seen the movies she worked on, you probably saw her work during the 2002 Winter Olympics where she worked on designing the uniforms and outerwear for the members of the Swiss, Canadian, Japanese and Spanish teams. She was also costume design director for the opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
Hal Ashby (1929-1988)
Legendary director and editor Hal Ashby died four months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Before becoming a director, he worked as an acclaimed film editor, earning Academy Award nominations for his editing work on The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming in 1967 and In the Heat of the Night in 1968, the latter of which he won.
Ashby’s work as a director earned him one nomination for the 1978 film Coming Home, starring Jane Fonda and Jon Voight. Both Fonda and Voight won Best Actress and Best Actor respectively for the film.
In fact, Ashby is one of only four directors to direct Academy Award-winning performances in all four acting categories and direct 10 different actors in nominated performances.
A documentary entitled Hal, released in 2018, delves into Ashby’s life and career. Available on Amazon Prime, the documentary provides an insight into some of Ashby’s most famous films, including Being There, Harold and Maude, and Shampoo.
Henry Mancini (1924-1994)
Undoubtedly one of the greatest film composers in history, Henry Mancini was nominated for 18 Academy Awards throughout his career, taking home the golden image four times. Two of his four Oscars were for his work in the classic movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Best Original Song for “Moon River” and Best Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture.
Fun fact: the doorbell at his house played the first three tones of ‘Moon River’.
Mancini won his third Academy Award – Best Original Song – in 1962 for “Days of Wine and Roses” from the movie of the same title. It took him twenty years to win his fourth prize, this time for the best original score for the 1982 film Victor / Victoria, directed by Blake Edwards, with whom Mancini collaborated on Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Day of Wine and Roses and more.
Henry Mancini died of complications from pancreatic cancer in 1994, less than four months after diagnosis.
Joan Crawford (190? -1977)
The American Film Institute ranks Joan Crawford as the 10th greatest film legend in American film history. She died in her New York City apartment while battling pancreatic cancer.
Crawford was nominated three times for Best Actress. She won once for her work in the 1945 film Mildred Pierce. She said she was too nervous to leave her home, and accepted the award in full makeup from her bed with the press.
After her death, her Oscar statuette was put up for auction and sold for $ 68,000.
Crawford’s fourth husband, Alfred Steele, was CEO of the Pepsi-Cola Company. After his death she was on the board of directors. During this time, she told Walt Disney to take a ride to celebrate the world’s children, based on a ride she gave to the 1964 World’s Fair. When the fair ended, she donated what is now known as ” It’s A Small World “at Disneyland.
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