Commentary: Do the right thing, Hollywood
Actor and Legionnaire Paul Sorvino

Commentary: Do the right thing, Hollywood

The Oscars have their way of scandalizing into post-show public relations challenges. This year’s March 12 ceremony was no different. For some unfathomable reason, they found a way to omit a legendary entertainment icon from the “In Memoriam” part of the program.

Vietnam-era Army veteran Paul Sorvino, arguably most famous for starring in “Goodfellas,” was in hundreds of movies throughout his career. Sorvino was successful on stage, being nominated for a Tony Award, and on TV as a cast member of “Law & Order.” But he was more than just an actor. He was also a trained operatic singer, sculptor, author and businessman, just to name a few of the accomplishments that made him what his wife Dee Dee Sorvino calls “a true Renaissance man.”

The Oscars are about the film industry though. So let’s focus on some facts about the man that was snubbed by the Academy Awards:

• He appeared in three films that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar: “A Touch of Class,” (1973); “Reds,” (1981) and “Goodfellas,” (1990).

• He worked with seven Oscar-winning directors: Mike Nichols, “The Day of the Dolphin,” (1973); John G. Avildsen, “Cry Uncle,” (1971); “Slow Dancing in the Big City,” (1978); William Friedkin, “The Brink's Job,” (1978); “Cruising,” (1980); Warren Beatty, “Reds,” (1981), “Dick Tracy,” (1990) and “Bulworth,” (1998); Martin Scorsese, “Goodfellas,” 1990; Sydney Pollack, “The Firm,” (1993); and Oliver Stone, “Nixon,” (1995).

• Always keeping himself busy, Sorvino performed in more than 100 theatrical movies and over 30 TV movies throughout his career. Those include a dynamic and under-appreciated portrayal of Henry Kissinger in “Nixon,” (1995), as Fulgencio Capulet in the updated “Romeo + Juliet,” (1996); and in the Las Vegas thriller “The Cooler” in 2003. At the time of his death in 2022, there were three more films in which he appeared yet to be released, including “The Ride” in which he worked alongside his wife.

For more details on these performances and his other career highlights visit his IMDB page.

His silver screen credentials, are impressive. So is his dedication to The American Legion.

I was present for Sorvino’s induction as a member of Hollywood Post 43. Unlike some other celebrities he didn’t want to be inducted in a private setting nor did he want to be singled out. This man with countless accolades also possessed a humility that would seem improbable for all of the fame and success he achieved. He wanted to stand shoulder to shoulder with the other new members, replicating that military experience of being a part of something bigger than himself. As a Legionnaire, he was as proud to be a member as we were to have him as one.

He mentioned The American Legion often. His widow Dee Dee is a longtime member of the American Legion Auxiliary, as well, and she too supports The American Legion.

Dee Dee reported in an interview on “Inside Edition” that she would like to have a screening and Q&A of “Goodfellas” at The Hollywood Legion Theater at Hollywood American Legion Post 43, as a fundraiser for the post.

That dedication to his service and to others that served is a piece of the story that riles me up when I think about him being disrespected “In Memoriam.” When Dee Dee asked to use the theater at Hollywood Post 43, I double-checked for any conflicts on the schedule. Being none, I quickly and excitedly said, “Of course.” An affirmative answer was the only acceptable answer.

I’m calling on those who served to help give this brother-in-arms the support he has earned. He represented the best of us, thus I believe that we should now represent him. I think awareness and a bit of activism online are due here.

His career clearly deserved respect. He’s one of us. It’s not OK to disrespect one of our own. Post photos of him proudly wearing his American Legion cover and share the story of his inspiring Hollywood career. Speak of his patriotism and pride of service. Talk about his diverse skillset. Finally, let it be known that the Oscars didn’t treat this lifelong artist with due respect at the Academy Awards.

Do note that this was not simply a mistake or an unfortunate oversight. After the “In Memoriam” presentation, they flashed a QR code so that those "others" who died, would have their names in text with a thumbnail photo on a website. Let that be proof that this was no accidental omission; it was an unfathomable choice. I think it’s only right that we stand up and demand respect and simple decency here.

Please do the right thing Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Jeff Daly is a Marine Corps veteran and commander of American Legion Post 43 in Hollywood, Calif.