Always a presenter, performer, or host, never a nominee. That sums up Donald O'Connor's relationship with the Oscars. According to his family, among his last words were, “I'd like to thank the Academy for my lifetime achievement award that I will eventually get.” Sadly, almost 10 years after his death, even this has not happened.
Top 3 Oscar moments:
1954: Donald O'Connor hosted, along with Frederic March, the 22nd annual Academy Awards, only the second time the Awards were televised. This year was notable because it was the first time the awards were televised from 2 separate locations, Hollywood and New York. For its day, it was a technological feat, requiring much rehearsal, and 30 engineers in the Pantages Theater the night of the show. Especially impressive is the fact that there were no mistakes all night long.
1986: Reuniting with his “Singin' in the Rain” costars, Donald, Gene Kelly, and Debbie Reynolds presented the Oscar for Best Original Score and Best Original Song at the 58th Academy Awards. This was Donald's last appearance as a presenter, and it was memorable; he, Debbie and Gene appeared on stage to the strains of “Singin' in the Rain,” decked out in raincoats, holding umbrellas.
1980: Donald's finest Oscar moment was his performance of “Dancin' in the Silver Screen” at the 52nd Academy Awards. Somewhat overweight, he performed a nine-plus minute number, assisted by dozens of dancers, taking us through the history of dance in the movies. What makes this appearance special is that it came so soon after he overcame alcoholism. He worked very hard to get his personal life and career back on track, and this appearance seemed to provide a fresh start, professionally. His showstopping performance was rewarded with a standing ovation and later with his fourth Emmy nomination, this time for Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Special Event. (He won the Emmy in 1954 for Best Male Star of Regular Series, "Colgate Comedy Hour.")