Heath Ledger has become only the second performer to be awarded an Oscar posthumously.

He won the best supporting actor Oscar for his part in Batman movie The Dark Knight. His mother, father and sister accepted the award on his behalf, a year after he died in New York.

Peter Finch, who was named best actor for Network in 1976, was the only other posthumous winner of an acting Oscar.

Accepting the award on behalf of Heath’s young daughter Matilda, who, under Academy rules, is the official recipient of the statuette, his father Kim said: “This is ever so humbling – being amongst such wonderful people and such a wonderful industry.

“This award would have humbly validated Heath’s quiet determination to be accepted by you all here – his peers within an industry he loved.”

His mother, Sally Ledger Bell, said the 28-year-old had added ‘so much excitement and inspiration to our lives’.

Meanwhile, Penelope Cruz took the award for best supporting actress for her performance in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and thanked director Woody Allen in her acceptance speech.

Penelope Cruz took the best supporting actress gong and thanked Woody Allen for ‘trusting me with this wonderful character’.

“Has anybody ever fainted here?” she asked as she collected her Oscar. “I think I might be the first one.”

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