Joining the legendary Irish actress and the social activist in receiving an honorary Academy Award were filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki and screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere. The event was held at a private dinner ceremony at Hollywood & Highland's Ray Dolby Ballroom.
Liam Neeson and Clint Eastwood introduced the 94-year-old O'Hara and concurred that both once had a crush on the beautiful actress. Described by Neeson as "one of the true legends of cinema" and "one of the most adventurous women who ever lived," he said she was a pioneer in the industry for women by doing her own stunt work, notably in several John Wayne films.
— CBS Entertainment (@CBSShowbiz) November 9, 2014
Arriving on stage in a wheelchair, O'Hara thanked filmmakers Charles Laughton and John Ford, and her late friend and co-star Wayne.
"What's this?!" said O'Hara when the award was handed to her. "I only hope it's silver or gold and not like a spoon out of the kitchen."
"I'm not here to honor you," Rock said. "I'm here to thank you."
Sarandon called the actor and singer "a real-life, flesh and blood hero."
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) November 9, 2014
Belafonte accepted his award with his typical grace and eloquence.
"To be rewarded by my peers for my work for human rights, civil rights and for peace... It powerfully mutes the enemy's thunder," he said.
Belafonte said he shared the award with friend and colleague Sidney Poitier.
"He redirected the ship of racial hatred in American culture," Belafonte said, mentioning the actor's long list of films, including 12 Years a Slave, noting the influential power of the film.
"Maybe, just maybe, it could be civilization's game-changer," he said.
— Variety (@Variety) November 9, 2014
The Governors Awards was established by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2009. Highlights from the ceremony will be featured in the 2015 Oscar telecast in February.