Officially, the Academy's internal workings are secret, as is its roster. Some names are known, including such high achievers as Clint Eastwood, Barbra Streisand and even Marlon Brando, who rejected his 1972 Oscar for The Godfather. Yet the Academy, in its inscrutable wisdom, has also opened its arms to Don Rickles (Innocent Blood), comic Red Skelton (Public Pigeon No. 1) and restaurateur-actor Nicky Blair (Viva Las Vegas). Why not Rodney?
True, indignation over who gets admitted is a permanent part of the Hollywood scene. The admission process usually begins, says Hollywood publicist Edward Lozzi, "with an actor saying, 'What's that jerk doing in the Academy? I want the prestige.' " Yet, says Variety editor (and member) Peter Bart, "I got calls from very prominent people, many of them in the Academy, outraged" by the snub. One of them, he notes, was Oscar-winning director William Friedkin (The French Connection). Maybe the Academy was scared off by Dangerfield's intense, often ugly humor. "They don't go for cutting-edge stuff," says Oliver Stone, who cast him as a psychopathic papa in Natural Bom Killers. "They're always about 20 years behind the times."
The Academy won't explain its decision, except to note that of 140 wannabes last year, a mere 36 were accepted. Which is no consolation to Dangerfield. "I'm locked into an image," he complained with customary aggrieved desperation. "The nobody."
DANELLE MORTON in Los Angeles