Last year, the National Portrait Gallery unveiled a special wall in our galleries, called “Recognize,” as a place to highlight one important person in our collection as chosen by the Portrait Gallery’s friends and fans. This is a chance for the public to help us decide what will go on display, from a group of three portraits currently in storage. The candidate with the most votes will be featured on the “Recognize” wall, near the north entrance to our museum. In the previous iteration, voters selected a photograph of baseball legend Roberto Clemente by artist Charles “Teenie” Harris.
With Oscar season upon us, we thought it would be entertaining to learn about some of the actors who were “robbed” of an Oscar. These three fan favorites did not receive a nomination during their illustrative careers. So turn back the clock and vote for the actor you think deserves to be recognized. You can vote once a day until the competition closes on December 18, 2015, at 6 p.m. ET.
You may view the winning portrait on the National Portrait Gallery’s first floor from January 22 to March 6, 2016.
Mae West (1893–1980)
Beginning her career in vaudeville, Mae West advanced to Broadway, where her greatest success was as the lead in Diamond Lil, a play of her own creation. In 1931 she went to Hollywood, and two years later her films I’m No Angel and She Done Him Wrong were setting box-office records. She co-starred with Cary Grant in both pictures, and although She Done Him Wrong earned an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, West herself was not nominated. By 1935 she numbered among Hollywood’s highest-paid stars.
Today, she is still remembered for such suggestively delivered lines as “When I’m good, I’m very good, but when I’m bad, I’m better.”