Friday, September 23, 2005
Opie, Laverne & Meathead
Four Best Picture Academy Award nominations between them. One Best Picture win. One Best Director win. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, no one would have thought that Ron Howard (Opie of The Andy Griffith Show and later Richie Cunningham of Happy Days); Penny Marshall (Laverne of Laverne & Shirley); and Rob Reiner (Mike "Meathead" Stivic of All in the Family) would be directing major motion pictures, let alone receiving Best Picture nominations. But as the trend of actors turned directors began to heat up, these three former sitcom stars led the way with impressive bodies of work that eventually would lead to peer recognition and Oscar nominations. Penny Marshall (who had already directed Tom Hanks to his first Best Actor nomination in Big) hit pay dirt in 1990 with a Best Picture nomination for her film Awakenings (starring Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro, in one of his best performances ever). She didn't, however, receive a Best Director nomination. Next up was (Penny Marshall's ex husband) Rob Reiner. He had made his mark with Stand By Me and When Harry Met Sally... and directed Kathy Bates to a Best Actress win in Misery, but it was A Few Good Men, in 1992, that garnered the first Best Picture nomination for one of his films. However, he, like Marshall was not recognized with a nomination for Best Director. Ron Howard (who had been building a sizeable audience with his feel-good flicks of the 80s including Splash and Cocoon) scored his first Best Picture nomination in 1995 for Apollo 13. Like his fellow actors-turned-directors, he also did not receive a Best Director nomination. Then in 2001, Howard broke through and not only received the second Best Picture nomination for one of his films, but watched, on Oscar night, as the picture, A Beautiful Mind won the top prize and he, himself, took home the gold for directing as well.