If you’ve seen Tom Donahue’s Casting By, you would be horrified to watch how requests by high ranking actors went ignored by the Academy to give her an honorary Oscar. She was blocked, presumably because the egomaniac directors did not want credit taken away from them. Taylor Hackford is one such director in the film who bristled at the notion that Dougherty should have gotten any credit. But the actors who credit her with their success, like Glenn Close, Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman and many more were not shy about showing their gratitude to Dougherty.
Casting by highlights the differences between what casting directors like Dougherty can do and what casting directors do now. Hollywood needs more people like Dougherty, who wasn’t afraid to stand up to the likes of Michael Eisner and had good instincts. When they were casting Lethal Weapon, it was Dougherty who suggested Danny Glover to play opposite Mel Gibson. No one else would have thought of simply casting a black actor in the part until she suggested it. It might not seem like a big deal now but imagine the stones on that woman to suggest such a thing at a time when it wasn’t done.
It is, in some ways, too little too late to give her an award now. She passed away in 2011. But it’s good for the Academy and good for Hollywood to honor such an important person to film history.
With over six decades of experience casting for both television and film, the late Marion Dougherty is about to be recognized for her lifelong work as a casting director.
The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences will present Dougherty with their Governors Award this year.