LOS ANGELES -- Willie Fulgear is oh-so-familiar with the Oscars.
The salvage man didn't get to keep any of the 52 stolen Academy Awards he rescued from the trash heap, but he's getting plenty of experience with acceptance speeches.
He's accepted an invitation to Sunday's Oscars ceremony. He's also accepted a $50,000 reward from the shipping company that lost the statuettes.
''If anybody says honesty don't pay, send them to me,'' Fulgear said Thursday during the reward presentation. ''I'm a poor man and I stumbled across, I guess, gold. And I gave it back.''
A week ago, Fulgear, 61, made a living selling discarded machine parts. Now he hopes his ''golden'' find will get him a book contract or a movie about his life.
Roadway Express, the Akron, Ohio, company hired to deliver the Oscars, decided to present Fulgear with the money after the Los Angeles Police Department concluded he had nothing to do with the theft.
A Roadway truck driver has been charged with stealing 55 Oscar statuettes from a warehouse March 8. Three of the figures are missing.
Separately, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided Thursday to invite Fulgear to the awards show, traditionally the most sought-after ticket in Hollywood.
Allen Fulgear, a security guard in the city's fashion district, was overcome with emotion after learning his father would get the reward.
''My Dad has always been a silent hero, the one that nobody ever talks about. I think the good guy finally wins one here,'' he said.
The elder Fulgear said he hopes the publicity will also help him find Allen's mother, whom he hasn't seen since they split in 1983.
''I'd like my son to know his mother,'' he said.
On the Net: Academy site: http://www.oscars.org
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