Ledger caps career with coveted Oscarhttp://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/02/23/2498826.htm
Ledger caps career with coveted Oscar
Posted 6 hours 41 minutes ago
Updated 4 hours 26 minutes ago
Oscar-winning role: Heath Ledger as The Joker in Batman blockbuster The Dark Knight. (www.imdb.com
Australian Heath Ledger has become only the second actor in Oscars history to win a posthumous Academy Award.
Ledger, who died in New York in January last year aged 28, was the favourite to emulate fellow Australian Peter Finch - a winner for 1976 classic Network - for his performance as The Joker in Batman blockbuster The Dark Knight.
Other nominees included Josh Brolin (Milk), Robert Downey Jr (Tropic Thunder) Philip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt) and Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road).
The Oscar was accepted on Ledger's behalf by his father Kim, mother Sally Bell and sister Kate.
"I have to say this is ever so humbling, being amongst such wonderful people and such a wonderful industry," Kim Ledger said.
"This award tonight would have humbly validated Heath's quiet determination to be truly accepted by you all here - his peers - within an industry he so loved."
Mr Ledger also thanked The Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan "for allowing Heath the creative license to develop and explore this crazy Joker character".
Ms Bell said her son was "a compassionate and generous soul" who added excitement and inspiration to their lives.
"We have been truly overwhelmed by the honour and respect being bestowed upon him with this award," she said.
"Tonight we are choosing to celebrate and be happy for what he has achieved."
"Heath, we both knew what you had created in The Joker was extraordinarily special and had even talked about being here on this very day," Kate Ledger said.
"We really wish you were, but we proudly accept this award on behalf of your beautiful Matilda."
While Ledger's family were speaking, cameras showed many tearful fellow actors in the audience.
The best supporting actor Oscar is the crowning accolade for Ledger, who has already been honoured at the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards and the BAFTAs, among others.
Career cut short
Ledger was born to Kim Ledger and Sally Bell in the Western Australian capital of Perth on April 4, 1979.
Although a talented sportsman, playing hockey at state level while a teenager, he discovered his passion for drama at high school.
After roles in several Australian TV shows and films, Ledger started making headlines in Hollywood after starring roles in 1999's Two Hands and teen flick 10 Things I Hate About You.
In 2000, Oscar-winning actor and director Mel Gibson hand-picked Ledger from 500 others to play his son in The Patriot.
Although he had no formal training, Ledger won critical acclaim for all future on screen performances, which stretched from the leads in big-budget productions A Knight's Tale and The Four Feathers to indie works Candy and Monster's Ball.
In 2006, he was nominated for an Academy Award for his heartbreaking portrayal of gay cowboy Ennis Del Mar in Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain.
A year earlier, Ledger began dating co-star Michelle Williams, and in October 2005 their daughter Matilda was born.
Ledger and Williams separated in September 2007.
On January 27, 2008, he was found dead in his rented Manhattan apartment.
A coroner found Ledger died as a result of an accidental prescription drug overdose.