Donen Gets Some Due

(Above: Stanley Donen and Oscar, 1997. Source: YouTube video)

Since the producers of last night’s Academy Awards inexplicably omitted director Stanley Donen from the show’s “In Memoriam” segment, The Savvy Screener is proud to present a little tribute of our own.

Even if he hadn’t directed such seminal musicals as Singin’ in the Rain (1952) and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), Donen would be forever enshrined in film history just for helming Fred Astaire’s “dancing on the ceiling” tour-de-force in Royal Wedding (1951), his first solo directing stint:

Donen was never nominated for an Oscar, but delivered one of the ceremony’s most memorable acceptance speeches — for an honorary award in 1997:

Donen also produced the Oscars in 1986. Like last night’s show, that affair lasted only three and a quarter hours – despite including a whopping eight song performances and production numbers. The New York Times called it the “best Oscar show in years, perhaps ever.”

One of those songs was that year’s Oscar winner, “Say You, Say Me” from White Nights, written and performed by Lionel Richie (with his award presented by the stars of Singin’ in the Rain).

Later that year, Donen would come full circle when he directed the video for Richie’s song, “Dancing on the Ceiling.” How do you get someone to dance upside down? Learn all in The Making of Lionel Ritchie’s Dancing on the Ceiling, which ran on HBO:

Bonus: Also in 1986, Donen directed the following single scene, with music by Billy Joel, for Moonlighting’s “Big Man on Mulberry Street” episode:

About Les Luchter

Les Luchter is a former managing editor of Multichannel News, editor-in-chief of Cable Marketing, and news editor of Broadcast Week.

View All Articles

Leave a Comment