He presented best adapted screenplay to Alvin Sargent for “Julia,” and Sargent praised the real-life Julia. “I like to think that this Oscar represents those things” Julia stood for, Sargent said in his acceptance speech, “and the free expression of all our good thoughts and feelings and love, no matter who we are or what we have to say.”
(The identity of Julia had spurred a separate controversy when the author Mary McCarthy, who had long feuded with Hellman, accused her rival of appropriating another woman’s story. McCarthy said, “Every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the.’” Hellman sued McCarthy for libel but died before the case could be resolved.)
Chayefsky later said Redgrave “tried to speak to me afterward, and I cut her dead.”
He wasn’t the only one. “I felt sorry for Vanessa,” Koch, the academy president, said. “At the party afterward, she was sitting all alone with just her two bodyguards. No one else would sit with her, and here it was her big night.”
Redgrave’s reputation wasn’t damaged irreparably. She has continued to work steadily (her latest film, “The Aspern Papers,” was set to open on Jan. 11) and earned Oscar nominations for “The Bostonians” (1984) and “Howards End” (1992).
“Her career survived because of her stature in the industry, and people ultimately realized she was being pro-Palestinian and not anti-Israeli,” O’Neil said. “But her speech just came across so badly — it’s a cautionary tale of the dangers of the Oscars.”
Those perils became all too real two months after the Oscars when a Los Angeles theater scheduled to show “The Palestinian” was bombed. No one was injured, and a member of the Jewish Defense League was convicted in the case.
Decades later, Redgrave had no regrets about her stance. “You do what you feel is right,” she told The Telegraph in 2012. “People get it or they don’t.”