History is being teased at Oscars 2021, as an unprecedented number of performers of color are nominated for amazing work in all four top acting categories.
The late Chadwick Boseman is up for Best Actor with his final role as hot-headed musician Levee in Netflix’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” which also scored his leading lady, Viola Davis, a nomination for Best Actress.
Steven Yeun already made Oscars history, becoming the first Asian-American ever nominated for Best Actor for his role in “Minari.”
Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield will face off in the same category, with both nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in “Judas and the Black Messiah.”
Meanwhile, “Minari” star Youn Yuh-jung is up for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for a scene-stealing performance that’s already nabbed her several top critics’ prizes.
Will these actors break new cinematic ground at Oscars 2021?
These and other grown-up questions will be answered when the 93rd annual Academy Awards ceremony — broadcast live from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Calif. — airs at 8 p.m. Sunday, April 25, on ABC. That’s when Hollywood’s institution will attempt to break the “Zoom curse” of plummeting awards show ratings amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Until then, let’s take a look back at the youngest talents to be considered for Tinseltown’s most prestigious awards competition.
Sure, the adorable Alan Kim was snubbed by Oscar for his acclaimed work in “Minari” — even after his heart-tugging, tear-jerking win at the Critics’ Choice Awards went mega-viral.
But at 8 years old, Kim still has plenty of time to join the greats: From little Jackie Cooper in 1931’s cute “Skippy” to Quvenzhané Wallis in 2013’s haunting “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” here is a rundown of the most youthful performers to strike gold — or close to it.
And the youngest Oscar winners are …
Tatum O’Neal: Best Supporting Actress 1974
At 10 years old, O’Neal became the youngest winner ever in a competitive category for her whiskey-voiced turn as Addie Pray, a pint-sized con artist selling Bibles to unsuspecting widows during the Great Depression in “Paper Moon.” (Shirley Temple won an “honorary” Oscar at age 6 in 1935.)
O’Neal stole the film in her screen debut opposite her dad, Ryan O’Neal, a Best Actor nominee himself for 1970’s “Love Story.” She told the Times of London her Oscar win alienated her from her father, who was “too busy” making Stanley Kubrick’s “Barry Lyndon” to attend the ceremony with his little girl.
“People say that he was jealous and maybe that was it,” she told the UK outlet. “Obviously, I wish he’d been there. He’s just really selfish.”
Trivia note: Jodie Foster, herself a two-time Best Actress Oscar winner, re-created the role of Addie in a short-lived TV series spinoff in 1974.
After co-starring in the classic 1976 comedy “The Bad News Bears,” O’Neal struggled to find good work and made headlines for her stormy marriage (1986-94) to tennis great John McEnroe, which produced three children.
“After you win an Oscar, especially that young, you’d better kick out a pretty damn good performance every time you work,” she told the Times of London. “Switching from a cute little tot as an actor into an adult woman is an extremely difficult transition to make.”
Despite high-profile struggles with substance abuse, the actress bounced back to co-star on “Rescue Me” (2004-2011) with Denis Leary, and authored two best-selling books in 2004 and 2011, respectively.
More recently, O’Neal, 57, has been documenting her ongoing battle with rheumatoid arthritis in a series of emotional Instagram posts.
Patty Duke: Best Supporting Actress 1963
Patty Duke was 16 when she re-created her revelatory stage role as Helen Keller in the 1963 film adaptation of “The Miracle Worker.” Frank Sinatra introduced her category at the 35th Academy Awards, and “West Side Story” star George Chakiris presented the statuette.
Her award for playing the blind-and-deaf American icon launched a career that lasted 50 years.
In 1964, she starred in a TV series, “The Patty Duke Show,” which ran for more than 100 episodes from 1963 to 1966. In addition to being the youngest Oscar winner at the time, Duke also was the youngest actor to have a TV series bearing her name.
Although she scored cult film fame in 1967’s “Valley of the Dolls,” her greatest success came on the small screen. She earned 10 Emmy nominations — and three wins.
In 1982, Duke was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which she detailed in her 1987 autobiography, “Call Me Anna: The Autobiography of Patty Duke.” In the memoir, Duke also alleged that her managers sexually abused her and squandered her child-star earnings. She blamed the trauma for later struggles with addiction.
The veteran actress and former Screen Actors Guild president died from sepsis in 2016 after her intestine ruptured.
Anna Paquin: Best Supporting Actress 1994
Before her controversial seven-word role in much-nominated “The Irishman,” Anna Paquin was an 11-year-old Oscar winner for Jane Campion’s “The Piano” opposite Holly Hunter.
The part marked her first screen role when it was filmed in her mother’s native New Zealand. (Paquin was actually born in Canada). Oscar-winner Gene Hackman praised her “considerable talents” upon presenting her statuette at the 66th annual Academy Awards.
By 16, the young actress moved to Los Angeles, where she graduated from high school in 2000. She then relocated to NYC where she dropped out of Columbia University after one year. Following several years of stage work, she joined HBO’s “True Blood,” which concluded a seven-season run in 2014.
She was recently happy to be back in the Oscar conversation with “The Irishman” (2019) — albeit in a way that was unintended.
“It’s very endearing when people think they are fighting a fight on your behalf, but not really necessary. I’m incredibly happy,” Paquin, now 38, told the Hollywood Reporter. “I have such a tiny little role in the film, and I was so excited to get to be a part of it in the first place, and all of this [awards recognition] is just the icing on the cake.”
Paquin appears to subscribe to the old thespian adage, “There are no small roles, only small actors,” which is often attributed to legendary acting coach Konstantin Stanislavski.
“I just can’t picture any actor on the planet going, ‘Yeah, I don’t want to work with Martin Scorsese and every single living legend in our field,’ ” she says.
Adrien Brody: Best Actor 2002
Adrien Brody made history as the youngest Best Actor winner ever at the 75th Academy Awards — but a passionate impromptu kiss with presenter Halle Berry almost overshadowed the then 29-year-old’s haunting work in “The Pianist.”
To date, Brody, now 47, is the only actor under 30 to take home the top trophy.
He told reporters at the time that his performance in the acclaimed Holocaust drama was informed by the heritage and rare dialect of his Polish-born grandmother. Other inspirations: His father, who lost family during the Holocaust, and his mother, who fled Communist Hungary as a child during the 1956 uprising against the Soviet Union.
Still, that kiss lingers. “That was not planned — I knew nothing about it,” Berry told Andy Cohen in a 2017 interview. “I was like, ‘What the f–k is happening right now?’ That was what was going through my mind.”
USA Today later declared the moment “cringeworthy to watch in light of the sexual harassment allegations that have rocked Hollywood.”
Marlee Matlin: Best Actress 1987
Marlee Matlin barely uttered a word in her film debut — but her poignant performance as a troubled, young deaf woman spoke volumes.
Although she lost most of her hearing when she was 18 months old, Matlin went on to perform in regional theater throughout the Midwest. She garnered acclaim for her performance in a Chicago production of the Tony-winning play “Children of a Lesser God,” attracting the attention of agents casting the film adaptation.
At 21, she became the youngest — and first deaf — Best Actress winner in Oscar history, accepting the award in 1987 from her leading man William Hurt.
She went on to earn Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for her work in television. Her 2009 memoir, “I’ll Scream Later,” detailed how she overcame substance abuse and a tumultuous two-year relationship with Hurt.
“I have always resisted putting limitations on myself, both professionally and personally,” Matlin, now 55, once said. “The only thing I can’t do is hear. I am proud to be a deaf person.”
Timothy Hutton: Best Supporting Actor 1981
After standout performances in TV movies opposite the likes of Carol Burnett and Valerie Bertinelli, Timothy Hutton earned the coveted role of Conrad Jarrett in Robert Redford’s directorial debut, “Ordinary People.”
The 20-year-old’s performance as a tortured teenager, struggling with guilt over the accidental drowning death of his older brother, made Hutton the youngest actor ever to win Best Supporting Actor.
Jack Lemmon and his “Ordinary People” movie mom, Mary Tyler Moore, presented Hutton with the statuette for Best Supporting Actor at the 53rd Academy Awards.
The second-generation actor dedicated his award to his dad, actor Jim Hutton, who died of liver cancer two years before at 45 years old.
“This is the first award and I’m very nervous about what to say here,” Hutton said from the stage of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. “Most of all, I’d really like to thank a wonderful director, Robert Redford. I love ya. And finally, I’d like to thank my father. I wish he was here.”
Hutton, now 60, went on to a full career in film and television. He most recently starred in the Fox series “Almost Family” as fertility doctor Leon Bechley, who used his own sperm to conceive at least 100 children throughout his career.
And the youngest nominees:
Haley Joel Osment: Best Supporting Actor nominee 2000
Haley Joel Osment first stole scenes as the son of “Forrest Gump” in 1994, but he achieved star status five years later in M. Night Shyamalan’s supernatural hit, “The Sixth Sense,” opposite Bruce Willis and fellow Oscar nominee Toni Collette.
Osment, then age 11, lost the 2000 Oscar to veteran Brit actor Michael Caine in “The Cider House Rules,” but his classic line — “I see dead people” — follows him to this day.
“It still shocks me, like the cultural life of that line,” he told Page Six in 2019. “I was at a Dodgers game a few years ago, and they do little games on video in between innings with the players and Yasiel Puig came up on the screen and said it.”
After pleading no contest to driving under the influence and marijuana possession after a 2006 car crash, Osment got back to work. The now 33-year-old’s most recent roles include a guest spot on Netflix’s “The Kominsky Method” and a recurring role on Amazon Prime’s “The Boys.”
Jackie Cooper: Best Actor nominee 1931
At age 9 years and 20 days, early Hollywood child star Jackie Cooper is still the youngest nominee for the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Best known for his tearjerking performance in “The Champ,” Cooper actually garnered his 1931 Oscar nod for the little-known “Skippy.”
Although only 8 when shooting the film, Cooper, who was appearing in the “Our Gang” series at the time, is remarkably natural as the mischievous title character, The Post reported when the film was rediscovered on Netflix in 2010.
The actor, who died at 89 in 2011, later became known to a new generation of film fans via 1978’s “Superman,” in which he was cast as Daily Planet editor Perry White opposite Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder.
Quvenzhané Wallis: Best Actress nominee 2013
Quvenzhané Wallis was only 5 when she auditioned for her first acting gig — even though the minimum age to be considered was 6 years old.
She eventually beat out 4,000 other hopefuls for the role of Hushpuppy in “Beasts of the Southern Wild” (2012), the indomitable child prodigy and survivalist who lives with her dying father in the backwoods bayou squalor of Louisiana. And she was just 9 when she received her Oscar nom.
Wallis, who went on to star in an “Annie” reboot opposite Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz, is the first African-American child actor — as well as the first person born in the 21st century — to garner an Academy Award nomination.
“Reading is one of my favorite things to do,” she said during a 2017 appearance at the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, a trade association representing over 300 bookstores in the South.
“It’s something I would want everyone to do, especially teenagers my age,” Wallis said. “I don’t think we read as much as we should.”
Justin Henry: Best Supporting Actor nominee 1980
Justin Henry nabbed a starring role in the 1979 divorce drama “Kramer vs. Kramer” at the age of 7, with no prior acting experience.
He was 8 when he was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his tear-jerking role opposite Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep, becoming one of the youngest actors ever nominated.
Henry, who remains the youngest-ever Oscar nominee in any category, once told the Associated Press that in some ways, it’s a purer form of acting at a younger age.
“That’s the great thing about acting: In some ways, it’s a child’s game,” said Henry, who went on to play Molly Ringwald’s wisecracking younger brother in the John Hughes classic “Sixteen Candles” and now specializes in web video distribution. “You’re just pretending, so sometimes it’s easy when you’re a kid. You just kind of follow your instincts.”
Mary Badham: Best Supporting Actress nominee 1963
For a while, 10-year-old Mary Badham was the youngest nominee for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Jean Louise “Scout” Finch in the 1962 film adaptation of Harper Lee’s novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird.” (Then 10-year-old Tatum O’Neal came along, won the Oscar and knocked her off the record books in 1974.)
Long retired from showbiz, Badham has spoken to school groups over the years about the impact of “Mockingbird,” a Pulitzer Prize winner in fiction.
In 2015, the Birmingham, Alabama, native insisted that “Mockingbird” should continue to be taught in American schools, given the racist crimes that are still being committed in the South.
“You have to put your mindset in that period in what we lived through in the South,” said Badham, now 68, to a crowd at the 92nd Street Y in 2015. She said that her hometown and California, where she filmed “Mockingbird,” might as well have been “two different countries.”
Keisha Castle-Hughes: Best Actress nominee 2004
In 2004, Keisha Castle-Hughes, then 13 years old, became the youngest actress ever — and the first millennial — to be nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award for her role as Paikea in the film “Whale Rider.”
“I keep having to pinch myself to make sure I’m actually awake,” the Australia native told the Evening Standard upon learning of her nomination. “The Oscars are so big — they’re huge … I’m totally humbled and ecstatic. No words are enough to explain … it’s like, wow. It’s absolutely incredible.”
The young actress raised eyebrows when she was cast as the Virgin Mary in 2006’s “The Nativity Story” — and got pregnant at 16 the same year. Six years later, she was caught up in another scandal when her then-boyfriend, Michael Graves, was charged with assaulting her as they were driving home from an Oscars party.
Today, Castle-Hughes, 30, is an outspoken activist for Greenpeace and appeared in “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith” along with recurring roles in HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and CBS’s “FBI: Most Wanted.”
Linda Blair: Best Supporting Actress nominee 1974
Linda Blair turned heads as a possessed tween in 1973’s “The Exorcist,” and earned an Oscar nod, while just 15, despite the fact much of her demon dialogue was dubbed by uncredited character actress Mercedes McCambridge.
Today, the star of what’s still considered the scariest movie ever is 61 and more focused on animal rights than acting.
After a series of shocking TV movies in the ’70s (“Born Innocent,” “Sarah T: Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic”), she launched the Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation, which is dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating abused animals, and wrote the 2001 book “Going Vegan!”
Now and then, though, she performs: You might have caught her in an episode of “Supernatural,” or in the 2016 absinthe docudrama “The Green Fairy.” She’s slated to star in an upcoming thriller, “Landfill,” as a detective who — wait for it — delves into the paranormal.
Patty McCormack: Best Supporting Actress nominee 1957
Her role as 8-year-old sociopathic killer, Rhoda Penmark, in 1956’s “The Bad Seed” garnered then 12-year-old McCormack her Oscar moment. But, unlike many child stars of the creepy movies that followed, the role didn’t kill her career as a working actor: She’s made more than 30 movies since, including 2008’s “Frost/Nixon,” in which she played first lady Pat.
Now 75, McCormack says it was easier for her to avoid typecasting — and her fans’ expectations — in the days before the internet.
“With all of that, it’s come to life again, in my later years,” she told Collider in 2018. “Now, people don’t think I’m a has-been because I did something when I was a kid. They go, ‘Oh my God, it’s incredible that you’ve been working for so many years.’ ”
Hailee Steinfeld: Best Supporting Actress nominee 2011
Her “True Grit” performance nabbed her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination in 2011 when she was just 14, but more recently, Hailee Steinfeld has been winning in the music world with singles such as “Starving” (with Grey and Zedd) and “Let Me Go” (with Alesso, Florida Georgia Line and Watt).
The “Pitch Perfect 3” star dished to The Post in 2018 about playing the historic venue Radio City Music Hall, turning 21 and close-last-name encounters with Jerry Seinfeld.
When noti.group’s Chuck Arnold asked the star of Apple TV+’s “Dickinson” if she would rather nab an Oscar or a Grammy, the double-threat quipped: “I think the ultimate would be an Oscar for Best [Original] Song.”
— Additional reporting by Robert Rorke, Johnny Oleksinski and Chuck Arnold.
Credit: Notigroup Newsroom.
[This article may have been written with information from various sources]