It was a difficult decision for the committee that assembles the segment to omit Fawcett, said Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences executive director Bruce Davis, who added that he's not surprised some fans and family members are upset.
The academy committee "was kind of figuring that probably the Farrah Fawcett and Gene Barry omissions would be the ones we'd get the most comments on," Davis said. He admitted that he "did get one letter about Miss Fawcett."
After much discussion by the committee, Fawcett and Barry were both omitted from the necrology sequence. Davis and his colleagues thought that while the two actors appeared in movies, they were better known for their "remarkable television work" and would be more appropriately honored by the television academy at the Emmy Awards.
However, in a statement to Access Hollywood on Tuesday, Tatum O'Neal — whose father Ryan was Farrah's longtime love — said her family was "deeply saddened" over the omission.
"On behalf of myself, my father Ryan O'Neal and my entire family, we are deeply saddened that a truly beautiful and talented actress Farrah Fawcett was not included in the memorial montage during the 82ND Academy Awards," the statement said. "We are bereft with this exclusion of such an international icon who inspired so many for so many reasons. Beautiful, talented Farrah will never be forgotten by her family and amazing fans."
Davis said "an unusual number of extremely distinguished screenwriters" died this year, and the academy tried to honor many of them in the short memorial segment.
"In every category, you're going to miss some wonderful people," said Davis, who has helped assemble Oscar's In Memoriam montage since it began in 1993.
When asked why Michael Jackson was included when actors were left out, Davis explained that Jackson had appeared in a popular theatrical film recently. Fawcett and Jackson both died on June 25.
"Think of all the blogging we would have gotten if we had left him out!" he said.
Still, he said he understands that the Fawcett and Barry omissions sting.
"There's nothing you can say to people, particularly to family members, within a day or two of the show that helps at all," Davis said. "They tend to be surprised and hurt, and we understand that and we're sorry for it."