About the Governors Awards


In 2009 the Board of Governors voted to establish an annual event at which it will present its testimonial awards – the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and the Honorary Award.  Honorees will be selected and announced in September and presented their awards at a celebratory dinner event in November. They will also be acknowledged at the year’s Academy Awards ceremony. 

The Governors Awards were established in effort to balance the desire to truly honor worthy individuals and avoid the time limitations that the Oscar telecast imposes on these honors.  By creating a separate event for recognizing these outstanding people in the movie industry, we’re insuring that each honoree will be given his or her full due, without compromise.

Selection Process

The Academy’s Board holds a special meeting in September for the sole purpose of selecting the year’s honorees. There will not be more than one Hersholt nor more than one Thalberg Award voted in any given year. No more than four testimonial awards will be given in a single year.  We enlist the help of Academy members in recommending each year’s honorees.

  • The Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, presented to a creative producer whose body of work reflects a consistently high quality of motion picture production.
  • The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award (Oscar statuette), is given to an individual in the motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry.
  • The Honorary Award (Oscar statuette), is given for extraordinary lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the motion picture arts and sciences, or outstanding service to the Academy.

Governors Awards cannot be voted posthumously, and no current Academy governor is eligible to receive an award


The Academy celebrates The Governors Awards in November with a black-tie dinner event for about 500 invitees that includes film clips as well as remarks from the honorees’ colleagues and admirers.

Past Recipients

2013 (86th) Academy Awards: The Governors Awards

  • Angelina Jolie (Hersholt)
  • Piero Tosi (Honorary)
  • Angela Lansbury (Honorary)
  • Steve Martin (Honorary)

2012 (85th) Academy Awards: The Governors Awards

  • D.A. Pennebaker (Honorary)
  • George Stevens, Jr. (Honorary)
  • Hal Needham (Honorary)
  • Jeffrey Katzenberg (Hersholt)

2011 (84th) Academy Awards: The Governors Awards

  • James Earl Jones (Honorary)
  • Dick Smith (Honorary)
  • Oprah Winfrey (Hersholt)

2010 (83rd) Academy Awards: The Governors Awards

  • Jean-Luc Godard (Honorary)
  • Eli Wallach (Honorary)
  • Kevin Brownlow (Honorary)
  • Francis Ford Coppola (Thalberg)

2009 (82nd) Academy Awards: The Governors Awards

  • Roger Corman (Honorary)
  • Gordon Willis (Honorary)
  • Lauren Bacall (Honorary)
  • John Calley (Thalberg)

2008 (81st) Academy Awards

  • Jerry Lewis (Hersholt)

2007 (80th) Academy Awards

  • Robert Boyle (Honorary)

2006 (79th) Academy Awards

  • Ennio Morricone (Honorary)
  • Sherry Lansing (Hersholt)

2005 (78th) Academy Awards

  • Robert Altman (Honorary)

2004 (77th) Academy Awards

  • Sidney Lumet (Honorary)
  • Roger Mayer (Hersholt)

2003 (76th) Academy Awards

  • Blake Edwards (Honorary)

2002 (75th) Academy Awards

  • Peter O’Toole (Honorary)

2001 (74th) Academy Awards

  • Sidney Poitier (Honorary)
  • Robert Redford (Honorary)
  • Arthur Hiller (Hersholt)

2000 (73rd) Academy Awards

  • Jack Cardiff (Honorary)
  • Ernest Lehman (Honorary)
  • Dino De Laurentiis (Thalberg)

1999 (72nd) Academy Awards

  • Andrzej Wajda (Honorary)
  • Warren Beatty (Thalberg)

1998 (71st) Academy Awards

  • Elia Kazan (Honorary)
  • Norman Jewison (Thalberg)

1997 (70th) Academy Awards

  • Stanley Donen (Honorary)

1996 (69th) Academy Awards

  • Michael Kidd (Honorary)
  • Saul Zaentz (Thalberg)

1995 (68th) Academy Awards

  • Chuck Jones (Honorary)
  • Kirk Douglas (Honorary)

1994 (67th) Academy Awards

  • Michelangelo Antonioni (Honorary)
  • Quincy Jones (Hersholt)
  • Clint Eastwood (Thalberg)

1993 (66th) Academy Awards

  • Deborah Kerr (Honorary)
  • Paul Newman (Hersholt)

1992 (65th) Academy Awards

  • Federico Fellini (Honorary)
  • Audrey Hepburn (Hersholt)
  • Elizabeth Taylor (Hersholt)

1991 (64th) Academy Awards

  • Satyajit Ray (Honorary)
  • George Lucas (Thalberg)

1990 (63rd) Academy Awards

  • Sophia Loren (Honorary)
  • Myrna Loy (Honorary)
  • Richard D. Zanuck (Thalberg)
  • David Brown (Thalberg)

1989 (62nd) Academy Awards

  • Akira Kurosawa (Honorary)
  • Howard W. Koch (Hersholt)

1988 (61st) Academy Awards

  • National Film Board of Canada (Honorary)
  • Eastman Kodak Company (Honorary)

1987 (60th) Academy Awards

  • Billy Wilder (Thalberg)

1986 (59th) Academy Awards

  • Ralph Bellamy (Honorary)
  • Steven Spielberg (Thalberg)

1985 (58th) Academy Awards

  • Paul Newman (Honorary)
  • Alex North (Honorary)
  • Chas. (Buddy) Rogers (Hersholt)

1984 (57th) Academy Awards

  • James Stewart (Honorary)
  • National Endowment for the Arts (Honorary)
  • David L. Wolper (Hersholt)

1983 (56th) Academy Awards

  • Hal Roach (Honorary)
  • M.J. Frankovich (Hersholt)

1982 (55th) Academy Awards

  • Mickey Rooney (Honorary)
  • Walter Mirisch (Hersholt)

1981 (54th) Academy Awards

  • Barbara Stanwyck (Honorary)
  • Danny Kaye (Hersholt)
  • Albert R. Broccoli (Thalberg)

1980 (53rd) Academy Awards

  • Henry Fonda (Honorary)

1979 (52nd) Academy Awards

  • Alec Guinness (Honorary)
  • Hal Elias (Honorary)
  • Robert Benjamin (Hersholt)
  • Ray Stark (Thalberg)

1978 (51st) Academy Awards

  • Walter Lantz (Honorary)
  • The Museum Art Department of Film (Honorary)
  • Laurence Olivier (Honorary)
  • King Vidor (Honorary)
  • Leo Jaffe (Hersholt)

1977 (50th) Academy Awards

  • Margaret Booth (Honorary)
  • Charlton Heston (Hersholt)
  • Walter Mirisch (Thalberg)

1976 (49th) Academy Awards

  • Pandro S. Berman (Thalberg)

1975 (48th) Academy Awards

  • Mary Pickford (Honorary)
  • Jules C. Stein (Hersholt)
  • Mervyn LeRoy (Thalberg)

1974 (47th) Academy Awards

  • Howard Hawks (Honorary)
  • Jean Renoir (Honorary)
  • Arthur B. Krim (Hersholt)

1973 (46th) Academy Awards

  • Henri Langlois (Honorary)
  • Groucho Marx (Honorary)
  • Lew Wasserman (Hersholt)
  • Lawrence Weingarten (Thalberg)

1972 (45th) Academy Awards

  • Charles S. Boren (Honorary)
  • Edward G. Robinson (Honorary)
  • Rosalind Russell (Hersholt)

1971 (44th) Academy Awards

  • Charles Chaplin (Honorary)

1970 (43rd) Academy Awards

  • Lillian Gish (Honorary)
  • Orson Welles (Honorary)
  • Frank Sinatra (Hersholt)
  • Ingmar Bergman (Thalberg)

1969 (42nd) Academy Awards

  • Cary Grant (Honorary)
  • George Jessel (Hersholt)

1968 (41st) Academy Awards

  • Onna White (Honorary)
  • John Chambers (Honorary)
  • Martha Raye (Hersholt)

1967 (40th) Academy Awards

  • Arthur Freed (Honorary)
  • Gregory Peck (Hersholt)
  • Alfred Hitchcock (Thalberg)

1966 (39th) Academy Awards

  • Yakima Canutt (Honorary)
  • Y. Frank Freeman (Honorary)
  • George Bagnall (Hersholt)
  • Robert Wise (Thalberg)

1965 (38th) Academy Awards

  • Bob Hope (Honorary)
  • Edmond L. DePatie (Hersholt)
  • William Wyler (Thalberg)

1964 (37th) Academy Awards

  • William Tuttle (Honorary)

1963 (36th) Academy Awards

  • Sam Spiegel (Thalberg)

1962 (35th) Academy Awards

  • Steve Broidy (Hersholt)

1961 (34th) Academy Awards

  • Fred L. Metzler (Honorary)
  • Jerome Robbins (Honorary)
  • William L. Hendricks (Honorary)
  • George Seaton (Hersholt)
  • Stanley Kramer (Thalberg)

1960 (33rd) Academy Awards

  • Gary Cooper (Honorary)
  • Stan Laurel (Honorary)
  • Hayley Mills (Honorary)
  • Sol Lesser (Hersholt)

1959 (32nd) Academy Awards

  • Lee De Forest (Honorary)
  • Buster Keaton (Honorary)
  • Bob Hope (Hersholt)

1958 (31st) Academy Awards

  • Maurice Chevalier (Honorary)
  • Jack L. Warner (Thalberg)

1957 (30th) Academy Awards

  • Charles Brackett (Honorary)
  • B.B. Kahane (Honorary)
  • Gilbert M. (“Broncho Billy”) Anderson (Honorary)
  • The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (Honorary)
  • Samuel Goldwyn (Hersholt)

1956 (29th) Academy Awards

  • Eddie Cantor (Honorary)
  • Y. Frank Freeman (Hersholt)
  • Buddy Adler (Thalberg)

1954 (27th) Academy Awards

  • Bausch & Lomb Optical Company (Honorary)
  • Kemp R. Niver (Honorary)
  • Greta Garbo (Honorary)
  • Danny Kaye (Honorary)
  • Jon Whiteley (Honorary)
  • Vincent Winter (Honorary)

1953 (26th) Academy Awards

  • Pete Smith (Honorary)
  • 20th Century-Fox Film Corporation (Honorary)
  • Joseph I. Breen (Honorary)
  • Bell and Howell Company (Honorary)
  • George Stevens (Thalberg)

1952 (25th) Academy Awards

  • George Alfred Mitchell (Honorary)
  • Joseph M. Schenck (Honorary)
  • Merian C. Cooper (Honorary)
  • Harold Lloyd (Honorary)
  • Bob Hope (Honorary)
  • Cecil B. DeMille (Thalberg)

1951 (24th) Academy Awards

  • Gene Kelly (Honorary)
  • Arthur Freed (Thalberg)

1950 (23rd) Academy Awards

  • George Murphy (Honorary)
  • Louis B. Mayer (Honorary)
  • Darryl F. Zanuck (Thalberg)

1948 (21st) Academy Awards

  • Jerry Wald (Thalberg)

1946 (19th) Academy Awards

  • Samuel Goldwyn (Thalberg)

1944 (17th) Academy Awards

  • Darryl F. Zanuck (Thalberg)

1943 (16th) Academy Awards

  • Hal B. Willis (Thalberg)

1942 (15th) Academy Awards

  • Sidney Franklin (Thalberg)

1941 (14th) Academy Awards

  • Walt Disney (Thalberg)

1939 (12th) Academy Awards

  • David O. Selznick (Thalberg)

1938 (11th) Academy Awards

  • Hal B. Wallis (Thalberg)

1937 (10th) Academy Awards

  • Darryl F. Zanuck (Thalberg)
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