Steiger wins the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his portrayal of a police detective who investigates a racially motivated murder in a small Southern town in Norman Jewison’s In The Heat of the Night. Audrey Hepburn presents the award. Steiger in his acceptance speech alludes to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Steiger:
Thank you. Thank you very much. For maharishi’s sake. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you. I find it unbelievable, I find it overwhelming and I wish to thank the members of the Academy for such an experience. Secondly, if I may indulge myself, I would like to thank the people in the public who’ve been so kind to me. Thirdly, I’d like to thank Norman Jewison for his giving an actor freedom to make a mistake. Fourthly, and most importantly, I’d like to thank Mr. Sidney Poitier for the pleasure of his friendship which gave me the knowledge and understanding of prejudice in order to enhance my performance. Thank you, and we shall overcome.