The Academy Honorary Award – instituted in 1948 for the 21st Academy Awards (previously called the Special Award, which was first presented in early 1929) – is given annually by the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to celebrate motion picture achievements that are not covered by existing Academy Awards, although prior winners of competitive Academy Awards are not excluded from receiving the Honorary Award. Unless otherwise specified, Honorary Award recipients receive the same gold Oscar statuettes received by winners of the competitive Academy Awards. Unlike the Special Achievement Award instituted in 1972 (and discontinued in 1995), those on whom the Academy confers its Honorary Award do not have to meet "the Academy's eligibility year and deadline requirements." Like the Special Achievement Award, the Special Award and Honorary Award have been used to reward significant achievements of the year that did not fit in existing categories, subsequently leading the Academy to establish several new categories, and to honor exceptional career achievements, contributions to the motion picture industry, and service to the Academy. The Academy Honorary Award is often awarded in preference to those with noted achievements in motion pictures who have nevertheless never won an Academy Award. Thus, many of its recipients are Classic Hollywood stars, such as Lillian Gish, Barbara Stanwyck, and Lauren Bacall.
Since 2009 the Honorary Award is presented at the annual Governors Awards rather than at the Academy Awards.
Recipients[Sources: Years for which the Special Award and Honorary Award recipients received their awards and the annual Academy Awards ceremonies at which they received them provided within parentheses throughout (as pertinent) follow this information for recipients listed in the Official Academy Award Database and Web-based official AMPAS documents.]
Bob Hope was honored on four separate occasions.