It’s not an Oscar moment – I should’ve remembered to post this when the Golden Globes were handed out – but it’s still an awards moment worth sharing, and one that I’m not sure everyone is aware of.
In short, Ving Rhames won a Golden Globe award in 1998 for Best Actor in a TV Mminiseries for his performance in HBO’s Don King: Only in America. At the ceremony, Rhames, in tears over his win, called fellow nominee Jack Lemmon (nominated for 12 Angry Men as Juror #8) to the stage. And after Lemmon joined him, Rhames said, “I feel that being an artist is about giving, and I’d like to give this to you,” and handed his Golden Globe trophy to Lemmon, who was clearly shocked and speechless, but also touched by the gesture, as well as the celebrity audience who gave both Rhames and Lemmon a standing ovation.
Reportedly, even after the show was over, Rhames would not take the trophy back, even though Lemmon tried (unsuccessfully) to give the award back to Rhames.
However, The Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced later that they would have a duplicate award prepared for Rhames.
So, who really won the award that year?
Well, Rhames’ name is in the history books obviously, but some might put an asterik next to it forever more, because of the above gesture.
And, as I recall, Rhames was criticized by some within the black community for the act; for example, Spike Lee takes a dig at Rhames in Bamboozled, during a dream sequence in which Pierre Delacroix gives his Academy Award win to Matthew Modine because he feels he’s more deserving.
And there were those who thought it was embarrassing, and even stupid, for Rhames to have done that, given how terribly infrequent it is that black actors win anything at these major awards ceremonies; and so the act of a black actor willingly giving his earned recognition to a white actor he felt was more deserving, was, for some, reflective of a “colonized mind.”
Not my thoughts of course; I’m just giving you an idea of what some believe.
For Rhames, of course, it was probably a real, genuine, heartfelt gesture, and nothing more. Based on available evidence, the win, nor the act, did much to affect his career after that, did they?
Speaking hypothetically, what if Denzel Washington wins the Best Actor Oscar tonight, and decides to call Daniel Day-Lewis to join him on stage, and he hands over his Oscar to Lewis for his work in Lincoln, because Denzel believes Lewis’ is more deserving? How would America react? How would you react? Again… hypothetically-speaking…
Here’s the Ving Rhames/Jack Lemmon/Golden Globe moment: