Accepting an Oscar for Best Sound editing on Sunday night at the Academy awards for his work on the film “Ford v Ferrari,” Donald Sylvester acknowledged his gratitude to his wife for giving up her own editing career to raise their children so his career could succeed, saying, “I want to thank my wonderful wife of 34 years who gave up her editing career for me to pursue my career …”
He was met with dead silence before he continued, “… but she raised our kids and she did a great job because neither one of them are politicians.”
Sylvester’s thank-you to his wife elicited a barrage of criticism on social media in addition to the silence from the audience, including these: “Brava women heroes, sacrificing careers so white men can do what they want & not raise the kids,” “If Donald Sylvester’s wife hadn’t given up her editing career for him, would she be on the Oscar stage tonight?” and “In the future we want lots of women onstage thanking their husbands for doing the same thing.”
But Sylvester’s wife, Penny Shaw Sylvester, the daughter of the late great actor and writer Robert Shaw, was caught on camera beaming when her husband thanked her, saying,“Hi Peter” and “Hi Louise” to her children. She told the Deseret News that the criticisms of her husband were “ridiculous,” adding, “For anybody to criticize makes me extremely angry, because they know nothing about my life or my family and the choices we’ve had to make.”
The Deseret News noted, “The couple, who live near Los Angeles, have two children, now ages 30 and 25, and Penny Shaw Sylvester decided to quit working full time when it became clear that one of the children had special needs and would require extra care.”
Penny Sylvester continued, “I was paying someone to take care of my special-needs child and I realized they couldn’t do it as well as I could. Nobody knows a child as well as the parents do.” The Deseret News reported that she not only raised the children but also worked with special education in her local school district and ran a summer-school program.
TheAtlanta Journal- Constitution reported that Penny Sylvester was the one who suggested that with her husband’s ear for music, he might have a successful career as a sound editor.
Penny Sylvester concluded, “To say that I don’t work is absolutely ludicrous, but what I did do is leave the entertainment industry,” adding that she has “a very rich, fulfilled life. I love what I do, I love working with the schools, and I love helping children and helping our community, which I think is so much more productive than just cutting a film. I live in the real world. And I help real people.”
She praised her husband, saying, “My husband has been amazing. He’s been an incredible father, and so supportive of everything we’ve done. For some people, working is the correct choice; other people, life takes a turn, and you sometimes have to go with that turn.”
Her husband’s acceptance speech went like this:
Ford v Ferrari is a marriage of sound and picture so while I really want to thank my fantastic sound team, I also want to include the picture team and the mixers. In fact, Ford vs. Ferrari is probably the last film ever made by 20thCentury Fox so I want to thank (post-production supervisor) Aaron Downing and (president of feature post production) Ted Gagliano and (president of production) Emma Watts, but the real support comes from home, so I want to thank my wonderful wife of 34 years who gave up her editing career for me to pursue my career, but she raised our kids and she did a great job because neither one of them are politicians. But the real reason I’m standing here is James Mangold; he is the reason I’m here. He should have been nominated for Best Director, so if I could I’d break this statue off and give him the head so you could put it in the jar, Jim. Thank you, Academy.