Heath Ledger wins posthumous Oscar

Named best supporting actor for 'Dark Knight'

Adding an emotional coda to a career that was cut down in its prime, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has named the late Heath Ledger as best supporting actor of 2008.

His posthumous award for his fiercely psychotic performance as the Joker in "The Dark Knight" was accepted by his father, mother and sister. "This award tonight would have humbly validated Heath's quiet determination to be truly accepted by your here, his peers, in an industry he so loved," his father, Kim, said.

His mother, Sally Bell, added, "Tonight we are choosing to celebrate and be happy for what he has achieved," while his sister completed the thought by saying, "we proudly accept this award on behalf of your beautiful (daughter) Matilda."

Ledger, who died of an accidental overdose on Jan. 22, 2008, became only the second performer to win an Oscar posthumously as he was remembered for his work as the psychotic Joker in "The Dark Knight."

Ledger follows in the steps of Peter Finch, who was posthumously named best actor more than 30 years ago for his performance in 1976's "Network."

Ledger was nominated three years ago as best actor for "Brokeback Mountain," but lost that race to Philip Seymour Hoffman, who took home the Oscar for "Capote."

This year, Ledger's victory had become something of a foregone conclusion as his riveting performance racked up a whole series of awards before the Oscars at the Golden Globes, the SAG Awards and the BAFTAs.

The Academy earlier said that should Ledger win, his Oscar will go to his 3-year-old daughter, Matilda. However, Ledger's daughter is underage and so cannot sign the legal agreement that the Academy requires all winners or their heirs, promising to sell their Oscar back to the Academy should they decide they no longer want it.

So until Matilda Ledger turns 18, the trophy will be held in trust for her by her mother, actress Michelle Williams.