Legendary actress Cecily Tyson and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy are among this year’s Honorary Oscar winners, the film academy announced Wednesday.
Tyson (“Fried Green Tomatoes,” “The Help”), who is 93, will receive the AMPAS prize along with publicist Marvin Levy and composer Lalo Schifrin. Prolific film producers and husband-and-wife team Kennedy and Frank Marshall will receive the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award.
For the 10th year, the Academy governors will hold the honorary ceremony prior to the official Oscars telecast, this year on Nov. 18 at Hollywood and Highland’s Dolby Ballroom.
The award, an Oscar statuette, is given “to honor extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy,” an announcement said.
The Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, which is not an Oscar statue but a bust of the motion picture executive, is presented to creative producers “whose body of work reflects a consistently high quality of motion picture production.”
Read career highlights for this year’s honorees:
Levy began his career in publicity working for MGM in New York City before joining Columbia Pictures in Hollywood, where he guided the advertising for films including “The Deep” and “Kramer vs. Kramer.” His work for the 1977 film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” marked the beginning of a four-decade-long partnership with Steven Spielberg. Levy has held positions at Amblin Entertainment, DreamWorks Studios and Amblin Partners, and has worked on publicity campaigns for such films as “E.T. The Extra Terrestrial,” “Back to the Future,” “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” “Schindler’s List,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “American Beauty,” “Gladiator” and “Lincoln.” Levy is the first publicist to receive an honorary Oscar.
Born and raised in Argentina, Schifrin studied classical music and jazz in France before beginning to compose for film in Buenos Aires in the mid-1950s. He has written scores for more than 100 films, including “The Cincinnati Kid,” “Bullitt,” “Dirty Harry,” “Enter the Dragon” and “Rush Hour.” His memorable theme for the television series “Mission: Impossible” has been a hallmark of the recent film series. He has received six Oscar® nominations, for the original scores for “Cool Hand Luke” (1967), “The Fox” (1968), “Voyage of the Damned” (1976) and “The Amityville Horror” (1979), the original song “People Alone” from “The Competition” (1980) and the adaptation score for “The Sting II” (1983).
Raised in Harlem, Tyson began her career as a model and a theater actress, appearing both on Broadway and Off-Broadway. After playing small roles in feature films and television, she was cast as Portia in “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter” in 1968. Four years later, she received an Academy Award® nomination for her leading performance in “Sounder.” Her other notable film credits include “The River Niger,” “Fried Green Tomatoes,” “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” “The Help,” “Alex Cross” and “Last Flag Flying.”
The Kennedy/Marshall producing partnership, formed in 1991, has generated Best Picture nominations for “The Sixth Sense” (1999), “Seabiscuit” (2003), “Munich” (2005) and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (2008). Kennedy/Marshall Company productions also include “Congo,” all five “Bourne” films, and “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.” Prior to forming Kennedy/Marshall, the duo co-founded Amblin Productions with Steven Spielberg, sharing a Best Picture nomination for “The Color Purple” (1985). Additionally, Marshall received a Best Picture nomination for “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), while Kennedy was nominated in the same category for “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” (1982), “War Horse” (2011) and “Lincoln” (2012). Kennedy is the first woman to receive the Thalberg Award.