Director Spike Lee to receive honorary Oscar

In addition to Spike Lee, actresses Gena Rowlands and Debbie Reynolds will receive honorary Oscars

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Director Spike Lee and actresses Gena Rowlands and Debbie Reynolds will receive honorary Oscars for their filmmaking legacies, the organizers of the world's most coveted movie awards said Thursday.

Lee and Rowlands will receive the Honorary Award while Reynolds will be given the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

"We'll be celebrating their achievements with the knowledge that the work they have accomplished - with passion, dedication and a desire to make a positive difference - will also enrich future generations," Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs said in a statement.

The recipients will be celebrated at the Academy's annual Governors Awards on Nov. 14.

Lee, 58, rose through the ranks of independent film to deliver work such as 1989's "Do The Right Thing" and 1992's biopic "Malcolm X," earning two Oscar nominations along the way, including a best documentary nod for 1997's "4 Little Girls."

The African-American director is also an outspoken voice for the black community, often exploring race relations in his films.

Rowlands, 85, has a career spanning nearly seven decades with 40 feature films including 1974's "A Woman Under the Influence" and 1980's "Gloria," both directed by her husband, John Cassavetes, and earning her Oscar nominations.

Reynolds, 83, who rose to fame with her starring role in 1952's "Singin' in the Rain," has campaigned for raising awareness and treatment of mental health issues and is a founding member of charity organization the Thalians.

She earned an Oscar nomination for 1964's "The Unsinkable Molly Brown."

Previous recipients of the Honorary Awards include Steve Martin, Lauren Bacall and Robert Redford, while Hollywood humanitarians such as Angelina Jolie, Elizabeth Taylor and Oprah Winfrey have received the Jean Hersholt award.