Most Watched Event
Ah, the Oscars. The annual telecast is the
most widely watched awards ceremony in the world. How big is it? It is
estimated that you and one billion other people will watch it.
love it when our favorites win, hate it when our favorites lose, and
say, “What the hell!” when some magical moment comes out of nowhere,
like in 1991 when Jack Palance did one-armed pushups as he accepted his
Best Supporting Actor prize.
That Wonderful Little Gold Statuette
official name of the gold statuette is “The Academy Award of Merit.” It
is 13.5 inches tall and weighs about 8.5 pounds. It depicts a knight
holding a crusader’s sword standing on a reel of film with five spokes,
signifying the original branches of the Academy: Actors, Writers,
Directors, Producers and Technicians.
Where it got the nickname
of “Oscar” is in doubt. One story has Bette Davis claiming that she
coined the name after her then-husband, Harmon Oscar Nelson.
“Oscar” and “Academy Award” are registered trademarks of the Academy of
Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and are rigidly protected by the
Since 1950 the statuettes have been legally encumbered
by the requirement that neither winners nor their heirs may sell the
statuettes without first offering to sell them back to the Academy for
$1. If a winner refuses to agree to this then the Academy keeps the
statuette. Academy Awards not protected by this agreement have been
sold in public auctions and private deals for six figure sums.
Hur” (1960) and “Titanic” (1997) hold the record for most wins: 11
each. Katherine Hepburn has the most wins for an actress, four of them,
spanning the period from 1932-1980. And some of the best pictures ever
made that did not win the Best Picture Award include “Citizen Kane,”
“Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull,” and “Goodfellas.”
Keeping Track of Oscar
What do the stars do with their coveted prize?
Jones, who won in 1944 for “Song of Bernadette,” left hers in the back
seat of a taxi. Fortunately, it was returned to her.
Thompson, who win Best Actress in 1992 for “Howard’s End,” keeps hers
in the “loo” (British term for toilet). It is said that Frank Sinatra
used his Best Supporting Actor Oscar (for “From Here to Eternity”) as a
Some, like Spencer Tracy have donated theirs. Tracy won
Best Actor for his portrayal of Father Flanagan in “Boy’s Town.” The
Oscar can be seen on the tour of Boy’s Town in Omaha, Nebraska. Others
on public display include Francis Ford Copolla’s several Oscars for his
Godfather films. These can be seen at the Niebaum Copolla Wine Estates
in Napa, California.
10 Great Oscar Moments
as you curl up on the sofa, get ready for a really big show. For sure,
you may be bored as the show runs long, as it usually does. Some of the
production numbers are ponderous. The “thank you’s” go on and on. In
fact, Maureen Stapleton, winning for “Reds” in 1982, said “I want to
thank everyone I ever met in my entire life.” And she almost did.
occasionally the magic of the movies carries over to the telecast and
we remember why we cough up $10 on a Saturday night to see our favorite
stars. We remember why we sit in the dark. We remember what it would be
like to live the lives of those up on the silver screen.
Here are 10 Great Oscar Moments of all time:
The first awards ceremony was held on May 16, 1929, at 8:00 PM, in the
Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, attended by 250 people
who paid $10 each to get in. “Wings” was given the Best Picture Award,
the only silent film to win the top prize. Douglas Fairbanks announced
fifteen awards that night in about five minutes flat. Only one went to
a woman (Janet Gaynor).
2. In 1973 a nude streaker bolted across
the stage flashing a peace sign. Presenter David Niven made the evening
as he looked over his shoulder at the intruder and said, “"Well, ladies
and gentlemen, that was bound to happen. But isn't it fascinating to
think that the only laugh that man will probably ever get in his life
was when he stripped off to show his shortcomings."
3. In 1976
boxing great, Muhammad Ali, surprised presenter Sylvester Stallone on
stage, claiming he was the real Apollo Creed, and the two traded
(gentle) punches. After the clowning, Stallone paid tribute to Ali,
saying that he was standing next to a "100% certified legend." Thirty
years later, Stallone opened with still another movie in his boxing
series, “Rocky Balboa,” where at 60, he is still in the ring.
George C Scott described the Oscars as "a two-hour meat parade." He
hated the idea that actors would “compete” with each other for an
award. When nominated for his 1970 starring role in “Patton,” he said
that he would refuse it. When his victory was announced, Scott was at
home in New York watching a hockey game on TV. He went down in Oscar
history as the first star to refuse an Academy Award. He would not be
5. “Hello. My name is Sacheen Littlefeather. I'm Apache
and I'm representing Marlon Brando this evening." So said a young woman
in Native American clothing who took the microphone after Marlon Brando
won the Best Actor award for “The Godfather” in 1972. Brando sent
Littlefeather to protest the treatment of Native Americans in the
movies. In future years, the Academy would not permit a proxy on stage
to accept an award for an absent star.
6. In 1963 Sidney Poitier
got the Best Actor nod for “Lilies in the Field.” He played
construction worker, Homer Smith, whom a group of nuns believed was
sent to them by God to build their church. It was a historic event
during historic times for race relations in America. That year, Medgar
Evans was murdered. In August of that year, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
led the March on Washington. And in the same year, Sidney Poitier
became the first black male to win one of the coveted leading acting
7. The best Oscar hosts. Bob Hope set the standard with
16 hosting gigs. His famous line, noting that he had never been
nominated: “Welcome to the Academy Awards. Or as it’s known in my
house, Passover.” Billy Crystal hosted eight times and began a
tradition of editing himself into a montage of scenes from the Oscar
nominated films of each year. In one shot he appeared opposite Tom
Cruise in a scene from “Jerry Maguire,” screaming “Show me the money!”
Johnny Carson, a five-time host, looking out at the audience as actors
George Murphy and Ronald Reagan began their political careers, quipped,
"Sitting out there are the stars of today and the senators of tomorrow."
In 1993 Tom Hanks won the first of his consecutive Best Actor awards
for “Philadelphia,” portraying a gay attorney with AIDS. In accepting,
he said: "I know that my work in this case is magnified by the fact
that the streets of heaven are too crowded with angels. We know their
names. They number a thousand for each one of the red ribbons that we
wear here tonight.” The evening was topped off with another emotional
award for “Philadelphia,” as Bruce Springsteen sang and accepted the
award for Best Song. He received a standing ovation.
9. In 1993
Italian film star, Roberto Benigni, won the Best Actor award for “Life
is Beautiful,” a film about a Nazi concentration camp. The exuberant
director, actor, and writer turned his “walk” to the stage into an
Olympic event as he jumped up on seat backs and scrambled to the podium
to accept his award.
10. And finally, it is all summed up in a
few words, as Barbara Streisand stated in winning the Best Actress
Award in 1969 for “Funny Girl.” She fondled the Oscar, gazed lovingly
at it, and said, as hundred of other winners probably thought as well,