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Meryl Streep sets new record with 16th Oscar nomination

February 2, 2010 |  5:50 am
Meryl Streep Julie and Julia

Meryl Streep's nomination for "Julie & Julia" increases her Oscar record to 16, putting her even further ahead of Katharine Hepburn and Jack Nicholson (both at 12). Though Hepburn won four lead-actress Oscars and Nicholson a pair of lead-actor Academy Awards as well as a supporting one, Streep has just one lead Oscar and a supporting prize to show for all her nominations.

Though Streep just broke Hepburn's record of an even dozen nods in the lead-actress race, she should take inspiration from Hepburn's Oscar history. Hepburn won her first Oscar bid, for "Morning Glory" in 1933, but she lost her next eight Oscar races. It was only after Hepburn turned 60 in 1967 -- the age Streep is now -- that she prevailed again with nod No. 10 for "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner." Hepburn credited that win as a way for the academy to honor her late love and frequent costar Spencer Tracy, who had died just days after finishing "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner."

The following year, Hepburn won again for "The Lion in Winter," becoming the first repeat champ since Tracy pulled off that feat in 1937 ("Captains Courageous") and 1938 ("Boys Town"). Hepburn shared the prize with Hollywood newcomer Barbra Streisand ("Funny Girl"). And in 1981, Hepburn collected her record fourth Oscar for "On Golden Pond." Among her competition in that race -- Meryl Streep contending with her first lead nod for "The French Lieutenant's Woman."

Streep won the lead actress Oscar the following year for "Sophie's Choice." Her lead losses since then are as follows: "Silkwood" (1983) to Shirley MacLaine ("Terms of Endearment"); "Out of Africa" (1985) to Geraldine Page ("The Trip to Bountiful"); "Ironweed" (1987) to Cher ("Moonstruck"); "A Cry in the Dark" (1988) to Jodie Foster ("The Accused"); "Postcards From the Edge" (1990) to  Kathy Bates ("Misery"); "The Bridges of Madison County" (1995) to Susan Sarandon ("Dead Man Walking"); "One True Thing" (1998) to Gwyneth Paltrow ("Shakespeare in Love"); "Music of the Heart" (1999) to Hilary Swank ("Boys Don't Cry"); "The Devil Wears Prada" (2006) to Helen Mirren ("The Queen"); and "Doubt" (2008) to Kate Winslet ("The Reader").

Streep was 30 when she won her first Oscar -- a supporting award for "Kramer vs. Kramer." She lost her first supporting bid -- "The Deer Hunter" (1978) --  to Maggie Smith ("California Suite") and her most recent supporting nod -- "Adaptation" (2002) -- to Catherine Zeta-Jones ("Chicago").

If Streep wins on March 7, it will be 27 years since her previous victory. The longest time span between two victories was 38 years, a record set by Helen Hayes: lead actress for "The Sin of Madelon Claudet" (1932) and supporting actress for "Airport" (1970).

If Streep claims a third Oscar, she'll be tied with three other stars for having the second-most wins for performance: Nicholson ("As Good as It Gets," 1997; "Terms of Endearment," 1983; "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," 1975), Ingrid Bergman ("Murder on the Orient Express," 1974; "Anastasia," 1956; "Gaslight," 1944) and Walter Brennan ("The Westerner," 1940; "Kentucky," 1938; "Come and Get It," 1936).

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Photo: Meryl Streep in a scene from "Julie & Julia." Credit: Columbia

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