Since it’s practically the eve of the Oscars, my fascination with movies continues to intensify in anticipation of the big show. I find the award show inspiring, as if merely watching is like being a tiny part of history. The 26th Academy Awards were particularly memorable, not only because that’s the year Frank Sinatra won for best supporting actor, but because of the many tremendous performances represented in that category.
Of the five nominations for best supporting actor, four movies were represented: From Here to Eternity, Roman Holiday, Stalag 17, and Shane, which garnered two nominations. From Here to Eternity was nominated a total of 13 times, winning eight Oscars, including best picture. What I note, having the advantage of 60 years of hindsight, is that of the nominated actors, the winner was the cream of the crop.
Shane, a wonderful western, produced supporting actor nominations for both Jack Palance, the tough, gritty ex-boxer who got his big break in acting as an understudy for Mr. Mumbles himself, and Brandon deWilde, who at the age of eleven was already a veteran of the stage, although his career would be cut tragically short after a motor vehicle accident.
Eddie Albert earned a nomination for the romantic comedy, Roman Holiday. This accomplished and affable actor had a very long career, but I like that he listed sculpting as one of his many hobbies and any performer that sculpts can’t be bad in my book!
The Billy Wilder film, Stalag 17, begat the gravelly-voiced Robert Strauss a nomination. Of note with this fine actor is that he would work with Frank in The Man with the Golden Arm and would work in the movie, Attack! with both Palance and Albert.
Still, I have to believe this category must have been one of the easier decisions for the Academy that year and it’s satisfying to see, being able to look back as we can now, that Sinatra was the most notable personality of a fine and diverse representation of the acting profession. Have you seen From Here to Eternity lately? It’s worth checking out, if only to experience Frank’s tragically heartbreaking performance again.