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1968 Academy Awards delayed

1968 Academy Awards delayed

April 10, 1968: Arrivals at the Academy Awards outside the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.

The Academy Awards were originally scheduled for April 8, but were delayed two days because of the assassination of the Dr. Martin Luther King  Jr.

Times Entertainment Editor Charles Champlin reported:

The 40th annual Academy Awards, delayed for two days out of respect to the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, proved to be still further a gesture in the name of racial understanding.

Top honors – five Oscars, including best picture – went to “In the Heat of the Night,” Norman Jewison’s tarty funny film about the relationship between Sidney Poitier as a Philadelphia homicide detective and Rod Steiger as a Southern small town sheriff, on Steiger’s turf.

Steiger, as expected, was voted best actor for his performance as the sheriff. “Heat,” a Mirisch film for United Artists, was also honored for its sound, editing and screenplay, adapted by Stirling Silliphant.

Another film on the theme of racial understanding, Stanley Kramer’s “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” took two Oscars: one for William Rose’s original screenplay about the romance of Sidney Poitier and Katharine Houghton as the daughter of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Miss Hepburn was voted best actress in a surprising but popular award.

Gregory Peck, president of the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences, opened the evening by paying tribute to Dr. King, whose life, Peck said, brought an increasing awareness that “we must unite in compassion in order to survive.” Peck said that the industry’s best memorial would be films which “celebrate the dignity of man.”

The photos above, by former staff photographer Don Cormier, and below were both published in the April 11, 1968, Los Angeles Times.

April 10, 1968: Rosalind Russell presents the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to Gregory Peck during the 40th Academy Awards. Credit: Joe Kennedy/Los Angeles Times

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