The View co-host Whoopi Goldberg introduced the recipient during Sunday’s telecast. At the November event, Meryl Streep said she was “proud and deeply honored” to present Reynolds with the esteemed award.
Actress Jane Fonda also spoke to the star’s enormous impact, saying, “Debbie for everything you are and everything that you’ve done, thank you!”
Reynolds could not attend the Governors Awards ceremony last November due to health reasons, and her granddaughter Billie Lourd, accepted the award for her “heartbroken” grandmother.
The award is “given to an individual in the motion picture arts and sciences whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry,” according to the Academy Awards website.
In a press release, the Academy announced Reynolds’ first Oscar win (she was nominated for Best Actress in 1965 for The Unsinkable Molly Brown), earned because of her work as a founding member of the Thalians. Reynolds, 83, and other Hollywood entertainers started the organization to combat and increase awareness about mental health. The group’s efforts have raised millions of dollars.
The 88th annual Awards, hosted by Chris Rock, are being presented live on ABC from the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California.