Ledger wins posthumous Oscar for supporting actor

Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:18am EST
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Heath Ledger won the best supporting actor Oscar Sunday for his performance as The Joker in Batman movie "The Dark Knight," with the award hailed a fitting tribute for the Australian actor who died a year ago.

Ledger, 28, who was found dead in his New York apartment 13 months ago after an accidental prescription drug overdose, was the hot favorite to win the award which made him only the second actor to receive a posthumous Oscar.

Peter Finch was awarded an Oscar for best actor two months after dying from a heart attack for his role as a TV anchorman in the 1976 film "Network."

"This award tonight...validated Heath's quiet determination to be truly accepted by you all here, his peers, in an industry that he so loved," said Ledger's father, Kim, as the actor's family accepted the Oscar on his behalf.

The chilling Joker played by Ledger helped power the Batman sequel to a global box-office gross of more than $1 billion and made him the hotly tipped and emotional favorite to win the Oscar.

"We really wish you were here, but we proudly accept this award on behalf of your beautiful Matilda," his sister Kate Ledger told the glitzy Oscar ceremony.

Matilda, his three-year-old daughter with actress Michelle Williams, his former fiancee, will receive his Oscar when she turns 18, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has decided.


<p>The late Heath Ledger's picture is displayed after he wins the Oscar for best supporting actor for his role in "The Dark Knight" during the 81st Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 22, 2009. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn</p>