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10 Celebs Who Turned Down Their Awards And Honors At Least Once

For most celebs, the most gorgeous moment of their careers is to receive some of the most prestigious awards. An actor, for example, may desire to win an Oscar as the global recognition for their acting skills. Or a band can have their eyes on a Grammy in order for their songs to get greater traction and for more people will come to their shows.

However, some artists have said that they didn’t want an award when it was presented to them. They declined it. From Knighthoods to Grammys, all kinds of prestigious prizes have been turned down. And there are a variety of reasons why they could refuse an award. Some celebrities said that winning an award was absurd and that it cheapened their art. Others turned down their reward because they didn’t like how it was given to them in comparison to how it was presented to others.

So, who are they and what are their reasons? Scroll down for more details!

#1 Sinéad O’Connor refused 4 nominations for Grammy Awards in 1991

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According to the Los Angeles Times, O’Connor sent a letter to the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, she wrote: “As artists I believe our function is to express the feelings of the human race — to always speak the truth and never keep it hidden even though we are operating in a world which does not like the sound of the truth. I believe that our purpose is to inspire and, in some way, guide and heal the human race, of which we are all equal members.”

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According to O’Connor, the music industry as a whole has false and harmful materialistic principles, acknowledges largely the commercial aspect of art, and respects mostly money gain because that is the fundamental purpose for their existence. She went on, “And they have created a great respect among artists for material gain — by honoring us and exalting us when we achieve it, ignoring for the most part those of us who have not.”

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Despite her boycott, O’Connor won Best Alternative Music Performance for “I Do Not Want What I Don’t Have,” and her name is displayed on the official Grammys website as the winner.

#2 David Bowie turned down honors from Queen Elizabeth II twice

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“CBE” is short for “Commander of the Order of the British Empire,” and is the “highest-ranking” honor of this kind, followed by OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) and MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire).

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In 2000, Queen Elizabeth was hoping to make Bowie a CBE but Bowie refused the honor.

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In 2003, the Queen wanted to welcome Bowie into knighthood again. And the musician also turned down this royal offer. In an interview with the Sun, Bowie shared “I would never have any intention of accepting anything like that.”

#3 The Beatles received an MBE in 1965 but John Lennon gave it right back in 1969

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According to the Guardian, John Lennon wrote three letters to the Queen, Prime Minister, and Central Chancery, explaining that he wanted to return the award in protest of Britain’s role in the Nigeria-Biafra issue, against their support of America in Vietnam, and against the decline of ‘Cold Turkey’ in the charts.

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On Lennon’s website, he wrote “Taking the MBE was a sell-out for me… I chucked the letter in with all the fan-mail until Brian [Epstein, the Beatles’ manager] asked me if I had it. He and a few other people persuaded me that it was in our interests to take it, and it was hypocritical of me to accept it.” He went on, “But I’m glad, really, that I did accept it, because it meant that four years later I could use it to make a gesture. We did manage to refuse all sorts of things that people don’t know about.”

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#4 Dolly Parton declined her nomination for inclusion in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and turned down the Presidential Medal of Freedom two times

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In 2022, Dolly Parton is nominated for inclusion in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame but she turned it down.

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Dolly Parton was nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2022, but she declined. Parton said in a post on Twitter, “Dolly here! Even though I am extremely flattered and grateful to be nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, I don’t feel that I have earned that right. I really do not want votes to be split because of me, so I must respectfully bow out.”

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The powers-that-be at the Hall of Fame wrote, “Dolly Parton’s music impacted a generation of young fans and influenced countless artists that followed.”

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In the past, she turned down the Presidential Medal of Freedom twice. She explained, “I couldn’t accept it because my husband was ill. Then, they asked me again about it, and I wouldn’t travel because of COVID. So, now I feel like if I take it, I’ll be doing politics, so I’m not sure.”

#5 Tom Cruise returned all three of the Golden Globes

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Cruise won Golden Globes for his performances in Born on the Fourth of July (1989), Jerry Maguire (1996), and Magnolia (1999). In an act of protest against the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Tom Cruise returned all three Golden Globes he’d received throughout his career in May 2021.

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Cruise’s decision to return to the Globes came after growing criticism of the HFPA’s “complete lack of diversity” among its membership, according to Entertainment Weekly. NBC, on the other hand, opted not to cover the 2022 event, citing the HFPA’s need for additional time to accomplish “real reform” in a statement.

#6 Marlon Brando sent a Native American woman to turn down the Best Actor Oscar

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In 1973, when Marlon Brando won the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal in “The Godfather”, he famously sent Sacheen Littlefeather, a Native American woman, to decline the award in his place.

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According to History, Littlefeather said that Brando declined the extremely significant prize because of the abuse of American Indians today by the film business. During Littlefeather’s speech, she was booed.

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In a 2021 interview with the Guardian, Littlefeather said, “I didn’t use my fist. I didn’t use swear words. I didn’t raise my voice. But I prayed that my ancestors would help me. I went up there like a warrior woman. I went up there with the grace and the beauty and the courage and the humility of my people. I spoke from my heart.”

#7 George C. Scott promised to never accept an Academy Award

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George C. Scott, who had long sworn never to accept an Academy Award, had made good on his word when he won for his role in “Patton” in 1971.

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According to History, Scott disagreed, on principle, with a competition pitting performers against one other. The actor described the ceremony as a two-hour meat parade, a public exhibition with fabricated tension for economic reasons.

#8 Julie Andrews said “nope” to a 1996 Tony nomination

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Julie Andrews turned down a Tony nomination in 1996 for her leading role in “Victor/Victoria” in protest at the snubbing of the rest of the show’s creative team. And Playbill said her refusal made headlines across the world.

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During a curtain call, Andrews said, “I have searched my conscience and my heart and find that I cannot accept this nomination, and prefer instead to stand with the egregiously overlooked.”

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Andrews was still nominated for Best Actress in a Musical and is listed on the Tony Awards website as a nominee. Donna Murphy took home the award for her role in “The King and I”.

#9 Nick Cave turned down the MTV Video Music Award

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Cave thanked MTV for considering him, but requested that his nomination be revoked and that any future nominations and awards be given to musicians who are “more at ease with the competitive aspect of these awards events.”

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Kylie Minogue, who co-authored “Where the Wild Roses Grow” with Cave, read the Letters of Note letter he submitted to MTV. In part, Cave wrote, “I have always been of the opinion that my music is unique and individual and exists beyond the realms inhabited by those who would reduce things to mere measuring. I am in competition with no one. My relationship with my muse is a delicate one at the best of times, and I feel that it is my duty to protect her from influences that may offend her fragile nature. She comes to me with the gift of song, and in return, I treat her with the respect I feel she deserves — in this case, this means not subjecting her to the indignities of judgement and competition.”

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#10 Drake decided to withdraw both of his 2022 Grammy nominations.

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His album Certified Lover Boy was nominated for Best Rap Album, while his song “Way 2 Sexy” was nominated for Best Rap Performance.

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Drake hasn’t stated why he declined the nominations, but he has had a long and at times fractious history with the Grammys, according to Variety. Following his rejection in 2020, The Weeknd announced on Instagram, “I think we should stop allowing ourselves to be shocked every year by the disconnect between impactful music and these awards, and just accept that what once was the highest form of recognition may no longer matter to the artists that exist now and the ones that come after. It’s like a relative you keep expecting to fix up, but they just can’t change their ways.”

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