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People Who Won A Golden Globe Award After They Died

On January 3, 2021, the Golden Globe nominations were announced... and sadly, one of the nominees is no longer with us.

After acclaimed actor Chadwick Boseman passed away in August of 2020 due to complications from stage IV colon cancer, fans and Hollywood friends alike mourned the performer, who was just 43 years old. Boseman, who rose to prominence in biopics like Get on Up and 42, earned international fame and acclaim in the Marvel Cinematic Universe thanks to his thoughtful, layered portrayal of Black Panther, becoming the first Black superhero to lead his own standalone film in the universe.

Ultimately, Boseman was honored by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for his final performance in the Netflix original film Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, adapted by George C. Wolfe from August Wilson's classic play. Alongside Viola Davis as legendary blues singer Ma Rainey, Boseman perfectly portrays the explosive and big-headed trumpeter, Levee, who causes multiple problems throughout one fraught day in a recording studio.

If Boseman wins the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama for Ma Rainey — and currently, he's the favorite to win — he'll join a tragically elite group of creators and performers who received a posthumous award from the HFPA. Here's just a few people who were awarded Golden Globes after they died.

Heath Ledger

At first glance, Chadwick Boseman and the late Australian born actor Heath Ledger seem to have nothing in common, but there's actually a lot of shared ground between these two super-talented performers. Both appeared in high-profile superhero films, both were incredibly gifted actors, and both died tragically young.

After earning fame and acclaim for roles in films like 10 Things I Hate About You, Brokeback Mountain, and The Patriot, Ledger was chosen by director Christopher Nolan to play the famous comic book villain the Joker in the director's 2008 Batman take, The Dark Knight. In a horrifying twist, Ledger died in January of that year, months before the film's summer release, but his legacy was richly rewarded. In the aftermath of the film's release, Ledger won basically every major award for the role, including a BAFTA, a Golden Globe, and eventually, the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Peter Finch

In 1976, Hollywood staple Peter Finch, who had appeared in films with Elizabeth Taylor and was a contemporary of Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier, appeared in what would be his final film role in the Academy Award-winning film, Network. Directed by the legendary Sidney Lumet, Finch appears alongside heavyweight performers Faye Dunaway, William Holden, and Robert Duvall in the story of a news network that has seen better days, with Finch as the channel's erratic anchor, Howard Beale.

Sadly, Finch passed away in January of 1977 before he was awarded several statues for his role as Beale, including the Academy Award for Best Actor, his fifth BAFTA, and a Golden Globe for Best Actor. In fact, Finch became the first person to win an Academy Award for acting posthumously, before Ledger's win in 2008.

James Dean

One of the most iconic young actors of his generation, James Dean only appeared in a handful of films before his 1955 death after a car accident, when he was just 24 years old. However, the films he did make, including Rebel Without a Cause, Giant, and East of Eden.

Dean may not have won a competitive Golden Globe, but thanks to his stunning performance in East of Eden, the HFPA honored the late actor anyway, shortly after his death. In 1956, the Golden Globes rewarded Dean with a Special Achievement Award for his turn in East of Eden, and the following year, they named him as the recipient as the World Film Favorites Award for Giant. Dean left behind a legacy as one of the world's most beloved movie stars, and clearly, the Golden Globes took notice.

Howard Ashman

Even if you don't know who Howard Ashman is by name, you're definitely familiar with his work... especially when you consider that he wrote a ton of your favorite Disney songs. Ashman is best known for his collaborations with his creative partner, songwriter Alan Menken — who is still working as a songwriter today — and during partnership, the duo wrote iconic musicals like Little Shop of Horrors as well as the songs for Disney animated classics like The Little Mermaid, Beauty & the Beast, and Aladdin. (Menken is currently working on a live-action reboot of The Little Mermaid alongside Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.)

Ashman was ultimately nominated for several Golden Globes, but sadly, many of his nominations were posthumous after the lyricist passed away in 1991 from heart failure caused by HIV & AIDS at just 40 years old. After his death, the Globes still rewarded his talents, and he and Menken won Best Original Song for the title song from Beauty and the Beast at the ceremony that same year.

The 2021 Golden Globes will air on Sunday, February 28 on NBC.