Jose Ferrer Oscar Mystery: Statuette MIA, and the Academy Won't Replace It

Jose Ferrer - GETTY - H 2016
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The son of the first Hispanic actor to win an Oscar wants it replaced, but the Academy won't budge on its policy, which 'NCIS: Los Angeles' co-star Miguel Ferrer finds ironic at a time when "the Academy is tripping over themselves to be culturally inclusive."

According to the Academy, more than half of the statuettes given out over 87 years have gone missing one way or another. NCIS: Los Angeles co-star Miguel Ferrer found out the hard way about the replacement policy.

After his late father, Jose Ferrer, was named best actor in 1951 for Cyrano de Bergerac, the Puerto Rico-born star married vocalist Rosemary Clooney, had five kids with her, divorced her, remarried her, then again divorced — along the way becoming uncle to George Clooney and donating the Oscar to the University of Puerto Rico.

"I never saw the thing, never laid eyes on it. It was not in the house [growing up]," says Miguel. "I have no idea why he had it there outside of the fact that he had great affection for the island and the people who live there."

His father died in 1992 of colon cancer at 80 after a career that included a Princeton degree; playing Iago on Broadway opposite Paul Robeson's Othello (Ferrer's first wife, Uta Hagen, played Desdemona); leading roles opposite Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant, Rita Hayworth; and even working with such directors as Woody Allen.

In 2000, the university was renovating its theater when the Oscar was misplaced and stolen. The theft made headlines. Says Miguel: "Through Benicio Del Toro, who is a great friend of mine and whose parents live in Puerto Rico, I spoke with several newspapers and put up a cash reward. We got no response. I suspect it's at the bottom of the ocean." Ferrer says he contacted the Academy for a replacement and was happy to pay for it, "but their position was, 'If it's lost or stolen and the guy's alive, we replace it. If the guy's dead, it's too bad.'"

At a time when "the Academy is tripping over themselves to be culturally inclusive," Ferrer finds it ironic that "my dad won an Oscar in 1951 with an un-Anglicized name, the first Hispanic to ever win an Oscar, and the Academy is so intractable to this day."

This story first appeared in the March 4, 2016 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.