Page last updated at 08:37 GMT, Thursday, 19 February 2009

Ledger's child will inherit Oscar

Heath Ledger
Ledger's performance as The Joker has won a slew of awards

The only daughter of late actor Heath Ledger will eventually own his posthumous Academy Award, should he win at the Oscars ceremony on Sunday.

Three-year-old Matilda will inherit the gold statuette on her 18th birthday, with her mother acting as its custodian until she comes of age.

Ledger may become only the second actor to win an Oscar posthumously for his role in Batman film The Dark Knight.

Australian newspaper The Age says his family will accept the gong if he wins.

Unprecedented

The actor's father Kim, his mother Sally and sister Kate will be on the red carpet in Los Angeles, but have yet to decide who will make the acceptance speech, it reports.

Oscars organisers have not officially revealed who will receive the award on Ledger's behalf should he win.

Christopher Nolan
Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan accepted Ledger's Golden Globe

After Ledger won the Golden Globe for his performance, his family said that the award would eventually go to his only daughter.

Bruce Davis, director of the Academy, said the situation was unprecedented, because there is usually a spouse to accept a prize.

At the time of his death, Ledger, 28, was not engaged to Matilda's mother, actress Michelle Williams, and had not been previously married.

The three-year-old is too young to sign an agreement required by all Oscar recipients, stating it will not be sold before being offered back to the Academy for a nominal fee.

After Matilda inherits the gold statuette, she may choose to keep it or return it to the Academy.

Ledger died in January 2008 of an accidental prescription drugs overdose at his home in New York.

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