Oscar for Ledger would go to daughter Matilda

Wed Feb 18, 2009 10:00pm EST
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Matilda Ledger, the three-year-old daughter of late Australian actor Heath Ledger, will be the eventual owner of an Oscar if he wins a statuette Sunday, but his family will accept the award on his behalf.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said on Wednesday it has decided if Ledger wins a rare posthumous Oscar for his performance as the villainous Joker in "The Dark Knight," Matilda would receive the Oscar after she turns 18.

Ledger, 28, who died last year of a prescription drug overdose, is widely expected to win the best supporting actor Oscar at the February 22 Academy Awards in Hollywood after picking up virtually every other award in that category this season.

He would be only the second actor to receive an Oscar after death, following Peter Finch who won in 1976 for "Network," and his family will be on hand if he does win, traveling from the actor's home town of Perth in Western Australia for the ceremony.

"We have had Oscars awarded to a minor directly and Oscars awarded posthumously but generally there has been a spouse or an oldest child of legal age" to accept them, said Bruce Davis, executive director of the Academy.

"I don't think we have ever had a situation like this."

Australia's The Age newspaper said Ledger's family will accept the actor's hotly tipped Oscar if his posthumous award-winning streak continues.

His maniacal portrayal of the Joker has already won him best supporting actor at the BAFTAs, the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

The newspaper said his father Kim Ledger, mother Sally Bell and sister Kate Ledger will all walk the Hollywood red carpet ahead of the awards and accept a statuette on his behalf but they had not yet decided who would address the ceremony if he won.   Continued...

<p>Heath Ledger at the 78th annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, March 5, 2006. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson</p>