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Ruth Gordon: Oscar moments

The 'Rosemary's Baby' actress, then a septuagenarian, brought down the house in 1969.

February 06, 2012
  • Ruth Gordon in "Harold and Maude."
Ruth Gordon in "Harold and Maude." (Paramount Pictures, Paramount…)

Oscar memories

When presenter Tony Curtis announced at the Oscar ceremony on April 14, 1969, that Ruth Gordon had won for her supporting role in "Rosemary's Baby," the 72-year-old Gordon displayed her trademark wit. "I can't tell you how encouraging a thing like this is," she quipped, to huge applause and laughter from the crowd. Gordon was no novice. She had been acting since 1915, primarily onstage. In the late 1930s, Gordon came to Hollywood, where she appeared in such films as 1940's "Abe Lincoln in Illinois." Gordon and her second husband, Garson Kanin, earned Oscar nominations for their screenplays for the Katharine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy classics "Adam's Rib" and "Pat and Mike." She earned her first Oscar nomination as supporting actress for 1965's "Inside Daisy Clover." The Oscar win did in fact boost Gordon's career; she went on to appear in 22 films — most notably in 1971's "Harold and Maude" — as well as numerous TV series until her death in 1985.

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