The executive director of the Film Academy said that Farrah Fawcett wasn't included in the Academy Awards' In Memoriam segment because the actress was better known as a TV star.
It was a difficult decision for the committee that assembles the Oscars segment to omit Fawcett, said Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences executive director Bruce Davis, who added that he is not surprised some fans and family members are upset.
Fawcett's family issued a statement through a publicist saying they were "deeply saddened" and "bereft with this exclusion of such an international icon who inspired so many for so many reasons".
Davis said the Academy committee debated about including Fawcett and Gene Barry, a longtime TV actor who died in December at age 90, in the memorial segment but ultimately omitted both.
Mr 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 honoured by the television academy at the Emmy Awards.
The group "was kind of figuring that probably the Farrah Fawcett and Gene Barry omissions would be the ones we'd get the most comments on", he said.
The Academy director said "an unusual number of extremely distinguished screenwriters" died this year, and the Academy tried to honour many of them in the short memorial segment.
"In every category, you're going to miss some wonderful people," said Mr Davis, who has helped assemble the Oscars In Memoriam montage since it began in 1993.
When asked why Michael Jackson was included when actors were left out, Mr Davis explained that Jackson had appeared in a popular theatrical film recently. Fawcett and Jackson both died on June 25.
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," Mr Davis said. "They tend to be surprised and hurt, and we understand that and we're sorry for it."