It’s that time of year again, “Oscar” time! The Oscars, real name Academy Awards, has been around almost as long as motion pictures have. The Academy Awards are presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to award excellence in the motion picture arts. The first Academy Awards were held in Hollywood on May 16th 1929. The winners were Janet Gaynor and Emil Jannings winning for multiple roles instead of the now traditional one. The first movie to win was Wings, with it also being the only fully silent picture to win an award. Winners did know before hand of their award.
The story of the award got the nickname “Oscar” varies. Some say it was actress Bette Davis who said it looked like her first husband others that it was the Academy’s Executive Secretary who coined the phrase. No matter who did, the name stuck and we call it that today. In addition to the traditional awards, there have been “special” small size awards given to stars such as Shirley Temple, lifetime achievement awards and the Irving Thalberg memorial award given to producers for creative excellence. Irving Thalberg was an Academy Award winning producer who died at the young age of 37 in the 1930s. There is a great web site that the Academy has which lists past winners, history, quotes etc…. on the Awards.
Throughout the years ,there have been many memorable moments during the ceremonies. Hattie McDaniel being the first African-American to win an award for Gone With the Wind, Louise Fletcher signing to her deaf parents when she won her oscar for best actress in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Marlon Brando refusing his award for The Godfather, sending out Sacheen Littlefeather, otherwise known as Marie Cruz, in protest of the U.S. treatment of Native Americans. And most memorable, in 1974, David Niven was presenting an award when a streaker ran behind him. David quipped “The only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping … and showing his shortcomings.”. There were also some really awful moments. Many of us remember 1989 watching aghast as Rob Lowe and Snow White sang and danced to Proud Mary, ending up in a Disney Lawsuit for unauthorized use of a Disney character! And then of course, there are the LONG acceptance speeches, the awards for short documentaries that no one ever heard of, and the length of the ceremony itself! The 1998 ceremony ran 4 hours and 2 minutes! There have been some great hosts Billy Crystal (those opening song and dance numbers!), Bob Hope and some not so good, David Letterman (the Uma… Oprah joke, not great to begin with, got worse real fast).
The Fountaindale Library has some great materials on the Academy Awards. There is The Academy Awards: The Complete Unofficial History, DVD collections of the short films nominated in 2003 , 2007 (a chance to see them!!), as well as Academy Award Winning Music From MGM Classics . We also carry many of the award-winning and nominated films. In addition to those mentioned above, we have newer titles like Slumdog Millionaire , and The Departed, to the classics like The Sound of Music, and All About Eve.
The 82nd Academy Awards will be held on March 7th and will be hosted by Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin.