Gale Sondergaard won the very first Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1936 for her film debut in Anthony Adverse. She appeared in several classic films after her Oscar-winning debut, including The Life of Emile Zola (1937), The Mark of Zorro (1940) The Letter (1941), and winning a second Best Supporting Actress nomination for Anna and the King of Siam (1946) but her career was sadly derailed when she became a victim of the McCarthy witch hunts and she wasn't cast in a motion picture between 1949 and 1969.

As if to underscore the secondary nature of the supporting actor awards, actors winning in those categories were given plaques instead of statuettes from 1936 to 1942. The Academy ultimately replaced all the pre-1943 plaques with full-sized Oscar statuettes, but Sondergaard didn't receive her Oscar until almost 40 years after winning it. She resumed her career following her blacklisting and was called in for retakes on the TV film The Cat Creature (1973) when Charlton Heston surprised her by showing up on the set and finally awarding her her Oscar statuette.

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