Actress Vanessa Redgrave was honored by the Academy of Oscars yesterday in London. Redgrave was the focus of an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences retrospective, making her the first European actor to receive the honor.

Redgrave, now 74, was celebrated for both her film performances, which have garnered her 6 Oscars nominations, as well as her humanitarian and political work. She has served as an ambassador with UNICEF, and is known for her left-wing political stances.

Her role as an anti-Nazi activist in 1974’s ‘Julia’ won her an Oscar, but her acceptance speech stirred controversy. The nomination was protested by Jewish Defense League due to her narration of the film ‘The Palestinian’ which supported the Palestinian state.


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In her acceptance speech, according to Alt Film Blog, Redgrave praised the Academy for not being intimidated by "a small bunch of Zionist hoodlums whose behavior is an insult to the stature of Jews all over the world and their great and heroic record of struggle against fascism and oppression."

Her words were met with both boos and applause.

Fellow actress Meryl Streep, who made her debut in ‘Julia,’ said Redgrave’s acceptance speech was an inspiration for her. “Fame was not just this stupid vanity ... you could use it to make a difference in the world,” said Streep.

During Sunday’s ceremony, clips of Redgrave’s career were shown, featuring such hits as ‘Blow-Up,’ ‘Julia’ and the musical ‘Camelot.’ Host of the ceremonies, playwright David Hare, said that Redgrave "went on to be so much more interesting than their early stereotyping allowed." edgrave is currently co-starring with James Earl Jones in a London production of ‘Driving Miss Daisy.’ "I stand in profound admiration of her courage, both on and off the stage," said Jones, who received an honorary Academy Award yesterday in front of a matinee audience of their production. 

Fellow British actress Eileen Atkins said of Redgrave that “she believes in humanity, and not many people do."