Another year, another Academy Awards show. Lots of excitement for the big day, with celebrities selecting just the right outfit for the red carpet (they hoped), and feverishly working on their big speech just in case they won the golden statue (they hoped even more). Talk about pressure!
This years there were a few surprises and some we just knew would happen, who doesn't love Meryl Streep anyway? Octavia Spencer's win was well deserved, Christopher Plummer's was way overdue, plus a movie without words and Hugo swept up nearly all of the rest.
Most of us regular folks can be pretty sure we'll never win an Oscar; not unless we take up acting, AND score an amazing role in a blockbuster movie, AND have all the old dudes on the Academy board think that we're the best thing since sliced bread. It's also a certainty that we won't bump into any past Oscar winners walking the streets while holding the golden man for us to touch.
So, today I'd like to thank the Academy for awarding one to Art Carney almost 40 years ago. I'd also like to thank Mr. Carney for bequeathing this statue to his family, thus allowing his grandson, Devin, to keep his grandfather's memory alive by showing it off on local TV stations, while talking about an Oscar party held this past weekend in Art Carney's honor.
I met Devin Carney, grandson of legendary actor Art Carney, this past Friday morning in our green room, and he allowed me the chance of a lifetime to hold a real Oscar! And not just ANY Oscar, but the actual one his grandfather won for Best Actor in 1974, playing Harry Coombes in Harry and Tonto. Winning that year was quite a feat, considering Carney beat out the likes of Al Pacino for The Godfather Part II, Jack Nicholson for Chinatown, Dustin Hoffman for Lenny and Albert Finney for Murder on the Orient Express.
WOW! You might think that a special award like this would have some sort of fancy carrying case. Au contraire! To my surprise, Devin carries it around in an old, nondescript black duffel bag. That's sort of befitting Art Carney.
The man, who never had a acting lesson, starred alongside Jackie Gleason, (who played Ralph Kramden), in The Honeymooners for 39 episodes during the golden age of TV, as Ed Norton, the kooky sewer worker. Art's character always seemed to garner the most attention, so much attention in fact, that sewer workers unions across the country often offered him honorary memberships. Ralph and Norton were always looking for a way to make a quick buck, and seemed to rattle each others nerves on a daily basis. No matter what the disagreement or misunderstanding, the two always remained loyal true friends, both on the show and off.
Art resided in Westbrook, CT after retiring from showbiz, where he spent much of his time just being a cool grandfather to Devin. Devin Carney recalled that his grandfather would pick him up from school a few times a week in his black Camaro to take him bowling, or for a fun game of miniature golf. A car Devin's friends referred to as the "Batmobile." Oh, and speaking of golf! One of Art's memorable and genius lines happened when asked by Gleason, who needed to learn the game of golf in two days, what "address the ball" meant. Norton stood over the ball, gave a wave of his hand, and said "Helllloooo, ball." Gleason often said that it was Carney who made him funny.
The TV, film, radio, and stage legend died on November 9, 2003, and his final acting role was in Last Action Hero opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger. A fitting last movie title for a man who served his country in WW2, and was wounded during the battle of Normandy, leaving him with a lifelong limp.
Unfortunately for me, I never had the privilege of meeting him, but it was a true honor to hold his biggest award in what was an amazing career, and yes, it was very heavy!