Oscar-worthy conservationists

Over the years, some of Hollywood’s most recognizable actors have taken to the screen in support of the Ducks Unlimited mission.

On Sunday night, Hollywood’s finest (as viewed by voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) will flock to the Dolby Theatre. Many in the audience will have high hopes of being called on stage to accept an Oscar.

DUC is putting its own spin on this night of glitz and glam by celebrating past Academy Award winners who lent their time and talent to wetland conservation.

The envelope, please.

“The celebrities who have volunteered their time to appear in videos for Ducks Unlimited have all been avid outdoor enthusiasts and many have been duck hunters,” says Clay Baird, manager of Ducks Unlimited productions and based at the Ducks Unlimited’s U.S. headquarters in Memphis, Tenn.

And the wetland conservation winners are:

Bing Crosby
Best Actor 1945, Going My Way (1944)

His name comes to mind when we think of Christmas tracks and films. But this three-time Academy Award nominee didn’t just serenade us with good cheer. In the 1970s, Crosby filmed a special message in support of Ducks Unlimited.

John Wayne (a.k.a. The Duke)
Best Actor 1970, True Grit (1969)

Nominated on three separate occasions, John Wayne received his first and only Oscar for his portrayal of the cantankerous Rooster Cogburn in the 1969 film, True Grit. Three years later, Wayne would play another important role, a true one, that of a conservationist.

Cliff Robertson
Best Actor 1969, Charley (1968)

A modern audience will know him as Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben from the Spider Man trilogy starring Toby McGuire, but others will recognize Robertson for his role in Charley, a 1968 film based on the Daniel Keyes’ novel Flowers for Algernon. Robertson’s portrayal of a disabled man who undergoes a surgery that raises his IQ to the genius-level earned him an Academy Award.

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Morgan Freeman
Best Supporting Actor 2005, Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Five-time Oscar nominee Morgan Freeman has acted in and narrated some of the best recent films to emerge from Hollywood. In one notable Ducks Unlimited PSA he uses his distinctive voice and talent to encourage support of the Ducks Unlimited mission.  Freeman’s message is as relevant today as it was when the PSA aired nearly 10 years ago.

North of Hollywood, DUC has produced dozens of short films and public service announcements over the years that boast titles like Touched by the Tide, The Shores of Life and Wetlands for Life.

Aside from sharing the amazing diversity and importance of wetlands with Canadians through conventional informational videos like these, we’ve also had some fun.

Which brings us to our honourable mention. This animated short didn’t win any awards. But it did win the hearts of conservationists across Canada:

Ducks Unlimited Canada PSA, 1987

If you were a kid growing up in the 1980s, Scrooge McDuck and other DuckTales characters were household names. And so, it should come as little surprise that during that decade, DUC capitalized on the popularity of animated waterfowl and launched its own DuckTale-esque public service announcement.

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