Actors Who Received Posthumous Academy Award Nominations

These stars' moving performances left legacies that have lasted beyond their too-short lives

01 of 08

Chadwick Boseman

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Chadwick Boseman
Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. David Lee/Netflix

The actor, who died at age 43 in August of 2020 after a private battle with colon cancer, was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar in 2021 for his role as Levee Green in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. His performance won him Golden Globe, Critics Choice and Screen Actors Guild Awards, which his wife, Simone Ledward Boseman, accepted on his behalf.

"I think that his legacy, his body of work, his integrity, is going to influence on generations upon generations to come," costar Viola Davis told Yahoo Entertainment.

02 of 08

Heath Ledger

Heath Ledger The Dark Knight
Warner Bros/Dc Comics/Kobal/Shutterstock

Ledger died at just 28 years old in 2008, six months before the release of his blockbuster Batman film The Dark Knight. At the 2009 Academy Awards, his parents and sister accepted his Best Supporting Actor Oscar on his behalf.

"Firstly, we would like to thank the Academy for recognizing our son's amazing work," his father Kim Ledger told the audience. "This award tonight would have humbly validated Heath's quiet determination to be truly accepted by you all here, his peers within an industry he so loved."

Like Boseman, Ledger swept the awards circuit that year, earning Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Awards for The Dark Knight, too. He was previously nominated for the Best Actor Oscar in 2006 for Brokeback Mountain.

03 of 08

James Dean

James Dean (1931 - 1955) plays the angst-ridden Cal Trask in 'East of Eden', directed by Elia Kazan and based on the novel by John Stein
John Kobal Foundation/Getty

Dean, who was only 24 years old when he died in a car accident in 1955, received two Best Actor nominations after his death, in 1956 for East of Eden (right) and in 1957 for Giant. He did not win either award.

04 of 08

Spencer Tracy

Katharine Hepburn And Spencer Tracy In 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner'
Columbia Pictures/Getty

Tracy died at the age of 67 in 1967, and months later, earned his ninth Best Actor Oscar nomination for his part in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (right, with Katharine Hepburn). The actor, who had two Academy Awards to his name, lost to Rod Steiger in a field that also included Warren Beatty, Dustin Hoffman and Paul Newman.

05 of 08

Peter Finch

Peter Finch Network
FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty

Finch is the only other person to have won his posthumous Academy Award, his for his leading part in the 1976 film Network (right, with Faye Dunaway). Like many before him, he also won a Golden Globe for his role, as well as a BAFTA. He died just two months before the 1977 Oscars, having a heart attack in the lobby at the Beverly Hills Hotel at the age of 60.

06 of 08

Massimo Troisi

Massimo Troisi IL POSTINO: THE POSTMAN
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Troisi actually received two posthumous Oscar nominations in 1996 for 1994's Il Postino (right, with Philippe Noiret): one for Best Actor and another for Best Adapted Screenplay. The Italian actor died in June of 1994 at age 41, shortly after filming the movie.

07 of 08

Ralph Richardson

Greystoke : The Legend Of Tarzan Lord Of The Apes
Moviestore/Shutterstock

Richardson died at the age of 80 in 1983, and earned his second Best Supporting Actor nomination more than one year later for his posthumously released Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes.

08 of 08

Jeanne Eagels

The Letter
Glasshouse Images/Shutterstock

The only woman on the list, Eagels was up for Best Actress at the second-ever Oscars in 1930 for her role in The Letter. She died in 1929 at 39 years old, reportedly from complications related to drug and alcohol addiction.

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