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OSCARS: WILL GAGA JOIN BABS AND EMINEM?

This year's Oscar telecast will give the Grammys a run for its money as "Music's Biggest Night." Queen + Adam Lambert will perform music from Best Picture nominee Bohemian Rhapsody. (They may even open the Sunday’s show.)  Bradley Cooper, who was at the BAFTAs in the London on Grammy night, will join Lady Gaga to perform "Shallow" from A Star Is Born. Jennifer Hudson, Bette Midler and Gillian Welch and David Rawlings will also sing nominated songs on the show.

Even with all that star power, the music luminary of the night will likely be Gaga. "Shallow" is a heavy favorite to win the Oscar for Best Original Song. If it does, this will be just the fourth time in Oscar’s history that the winning song was written or co-written by an actor who played a leading role in that film.

In addition to playing Ally Maine to Cooper's Jackson Maine, Gaga co-wrote the soaring rhythm ballad "Shallow" with Andrew Wyatt, Anthony Rossomando and Mark Ronson. The song won two Grammys, Best Song Written for Visual Media and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.

Here's a look at the songwriting actors who won Oscars for writing a song for a film in which they played a leading role. 

Barbra Streisand, A Star Is Born (1976). In addition to playing Esther Hoffman Howard opposite Kris Kristofferson's John Norman Howard, Streisand composed the lovely melody for  "Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star Is Born)" with lyrics by Paul Williams. Streisand also sang the song in the film—with an assist from Kristofferson. She performed it live on the Oscars in 1977 and the Grammys in 2011. It marked the only time she performed a nominated song on the Oscars. Streisand's future duet partner Neil Diamond presented the Oscar. "In my wildest dreams I never, never could ever imagine winning an Academy Award for writing a song," she said on accepting the award.

Eminem, 8 Mile (2002). "Lose Yourself" was the first hip-hop song to win an Oscar. Eminem wrote the inspirational lyrics and teamed with Jeff Bass and Luis Resto to compose the melody. Eminem also played Jimmy "B-Rabbit" Smith Jr. in the quasi-autobiographical film. Eminem declined to perform the song on the Oscar telecast (producer Gil Cates opted not to have the song performed at all). Eminem didn't show up to accept his Oscar, which Streisand presented—that would have been a photo op for the ages. But Resto was there to accept. "This all goes to Marshall," he said. "It's a great thing working with Marshall day in, day out. He's creative. He has symphonies in his head that I'm privileged to put on the tape."

Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, Once (2007). Hansard, an Irish musician, and Irglová, a Czech singer/pianist, starred in the film as Guy and Girl. (They became a couple in real life while on a promotional tour across North America.) They also co-wrote the subtle, hypnotic ballad "Falling Slowly," which they performed in the film and on the Oscar telecast. "This is amazing," Hansard said on accepting the award. "What are we doing here? This is mad. We made this film two years ago. We shot it on two Handycams. It took us three weeks to make. We made it for a hundred grand. We never thought we'd ever come into a room like this and be in front of you people."

In addition to those winners, several other songwriters won an Oscar for writing or co-writing a song for a movie in which they played a non-leading role. Among them:

Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, Mary Poppins (1964). In addition to writing "Chim Chim Cher-ee," the brothers were voice actors in the film. Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews (who won Best Actress) sang "Chim Chim" in the film. But, unlike Gaga and Cooper, they declined to sing it on the Oscar telecast. In their stead, The New Christy Minstrels warbled the tune. (That's a serious drop in star power.) Richard is still alive and kicking at age 90. Robert died in 2012.

Keith Carradine, Nashville (1975). In addition to writing and performing the ballad "I'm Easy," Carradine played a key role in the large ensemble cast. He played Tom Frank, a member of a folk trio who was going solo. "I'm Easy" echoed the sensitive singer/songwriter ethos of the early '70s, just before disco took over and made such ballads a rarity on pop radio. The great Burt Bacharach presented the award, together with his then-wife Angie Dickinson.

Joseph Brooks, You Light Up My Life (1977). Brooks wrote, directed and produced this film and composed, arranged and produced the songs on the soundtrack.  Brooks also played a small part in the film as Creative Director. Kasey Cisyk sang the song, which Didi Conn lip-synched in the film. The song, of course, became a blockbuster hit for Debby Boone (who sang it on the Oscar telecast). Fred Astaire, no less, presented the Oscar to Brooks. There's a sad post-script to this story: Brooks took his own life in 2011.

Paul Jabara, Thank God It's Friday (1978). "Last Dance" was the first disco song to win an Oscar. In addition to writing the song, Jabara played Carl, a patron of the fictional L.A. disco The Zoo. Disco queen Donna Summer performed the song in the film and on the Oscar telecast. This story also has a sad post-script: Jabara died of complications from AIDS in 1992.

Juicy J, Hustle & Flow (2005). In addition to co-writing "It's Hard out Here for a Pimp" with Frayser Boy and DJ Paul, Juicy J played Tigga, a local rapper. Terrence Howard (who was nominated for Best Actor) and Taraji P. Henson performed the song in the film. Three 6 Mafia (which included Juicy J and DJ Paul) performed the song on the soundtrack album. They also teamed with Henson to perform it on the Oscar telecast, marking the first time a hip-hop song was performed on the Oscar stage. Another hip-hop star, Queen Latifah, presented the award.

Ryan Bingham, Crazy Heart (2009). In addition to co-writing "The Weary Kind" with T Bone Burnett, Bingham played Tony of Tony and the Renegades, a backup group at a bowling alley. Colin Farrell and Jeff Bridges (who won an Oscar for Best Actor) performed the song in the film. Bingham performed it on the soundtrack album. For only the second time in Oscar history, the nominated songs weren't performed on the telecast.

Common, Selma (2014). In addition to co-writing and performing "Glory" with John Legend, Common played James Bevel, a minister and civil rights leader. Common and Legend performed the song on both the Grammys and the Oscars, just two weeks later. (The Grammy performance probably clinched the song's Oscar win.) In accepting the Oscar, Common said, "Recently John and I got to go to Selma and perform 'Glory' on the same bridge that Dr. King and the people of the Civil Rights movement marched on 50 years ago. This bridge was once a landmark of a divided nation but now is a symbol for change."

 

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