Harry Belafonte Handed Honorary Oscar!

A host of stars turned out to see four cinematic veterans honoured at the Governor’s Awards in Los Angeles.

Actor and musician Harry Belafonte, Irish actress Maureen O’Hara, Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki and French screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere were celebrated at the event.

Among those paying tribute were Ron Howard, Sidney Poitier, Warren Beatty and Reese Witherspoon.

Belafonte was given the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for his activism.

The 87-year-old was a prominent civil rights campaigner and friend of Martin Luther King Jr, who he helped financially support during his fight against segregation.

Among his humanitarian work he has been a Unicef ambassador and a campaigner on HIV in Africa, as well as supporting prostate cancer charities since he was successfully treated for the disease in 1996.

“Artists are the radical voice of civilisation,” the 87-year-old said in his speech at the the Governors Awards event.

“I really wish I could be around for the rest of this century, to see what Hollywood does with the rest of the century. Maybe, just maybe, it could be civilisation’s game changer.”

The British director of 12 Years a Slave, Steve McQueen, told AFP that Belafonte “basically took those powers of celebrity and fame, and used them for a bigger cause than just his own.”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences also handed lifetime awards to Miyazaki, O’Hara and Carriere.

Miyazaki, 73, has been Oscar nominated three times for his dark animations, winning the animated feature award in 2002 for Spirited Away.

Introducing him to the stage, Pixar’s John Lasseter said: “Miyazaki is the most original artist ever to work in our medium.”

Although O’Hara, 94, never received an Oscar nomination during her career she appeared in many much-loved films including Our Man in Havana, The Parent Trap and The Quiet Man, which won director John Ford an Academy Award and also starred John Wayne.

O’Hara was introduced by Liam Neeson and Clint Eastwood, who recalled being cast alongside the actress in a film in which she rode naked on a horse.

“My fantasies were going really wild,” he said, before revealing he was ordered off set before the scene was shot.

Jean-Claude Carriere is a prolific screenwriter who has worked on films in many languages including French, German and English, including Cyrano de Bergerac, Hotel Paradiso, Die Blechtrommel (The Tin Drum), The Unbearable Lightness of Being and Goya’s Ghost.