Six Lessons From Stanley Donen’s Academy Awards Acceptance Speech

Stanley Donen, the last standing director from Hollywood’s golden age, has died at the age of 94. Donen, along with frequent collaborator Gene Kelly, redefined movie musicals in the 1950s through films like On the Town and Singin’ in the Rain. But on the Saturday before the Academy Awards—Hollywood’s Biggest Night for Watching TV—it’s fitting to salute Donen for his greatest contribution to television. Not his episode of Moonlighting or the video for Lionel Ritchie’s “Dancing on the Ceiling,” though both are certainly worth appreciating, and not for the 1986 Oscar ceremony he produced, in which Irene Cara sang “Here’s to the Losers” over a montage of Best Picture nominees that didn’t win, ranging from old standbys like Raging Bull, Sunset Blvd., and Citizen Kane to Donen’s own Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. No, Donen’s greatest contribution to TV is unquestionably this transcendent moment of live television, broadcast on ABC on the evening of March 23, 1998, the night he received an Academy Award for lifetime achievement:

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