The 85th anniversary of the Academy Awards ceremony, or Oscars, bring to mind some truly indelible moments from the past as well as some interesting minutiae about their history.
The statue that the winners receive is officially recognized as the Academy Award of Merit. Legend has it that in 1931, Academy librarian Margaret Herrick, upon seeing the statue for the first time commented, ‘Why it looks like my Uncle Oscar!’
While the veracity of that is often debated, the ending result was, for ‘Oscar’, a name that resonates with most movie fans as signifying the best films, performers, and technical achievements in film. ‘Oscar’ himself weighs in at 6.75 pounds and 13.5 inches in height. His small physical stature completely contradictory to the powerful impact he has on both movie makers and movie lovers alike.
In the recent past, there have been a number of Memorable Moments as a result of the televised presentation of the awards themselves.
In 1973, Best Actor recipient Marlon Brando (for ‘The Godfather’) opted to have Sacheen Littlefeather accept the award on his behalf. Littlefeather, armed with a fifteen page speech criticizing the stereotyping of Native Americans on film and protesting the movie industry’s treatment of them to that point in time.
In 1974, the youngest person to win an Academy Award for acting, Tatum O’Neal was just ten years old when she accepted the Oscar for her supporting performance in the film ‘Paper Moon.’
Christopher Plummer became the oldest Oscar-winner in 2012 for his performance in the film ‘Beginners.’ He was eighty two years old at the time of the ceremony.
Jack Palance holds one of Oscars most memorable moments in history for his acceptance of the Best Supporting Actor award in 1992 for ‘City Slickers’. Palance borrowed a line from the film itself when he quipped to the audience regarding host Billy Crystal, ‘I crap bigger than him’ and then promptly dropped down to perform a few one-armed pushups. Palance was seventy three years old at that time.
David Niven, host of the awards in 1974, displayed a gentleman’s quick wit and inimitable style when a man ran naked across the stage during the televised show. Of the ‘streaker’, Niven simply commented, ‘The only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping…and showing his shortcomings.’
Three films share the honors of having won the most awards, with eleven each. ‘Ben-Hur’ in 1959, ‘Titanic’ in 1997, and Lord of the Rings: Return of the King in 2003.
And, while actor Jack Nicholson has been nominated twelve times for his performances in film, he does not hold the record for acting nominations. That honor goes to Meryl Streep, who has been nominated seventeen times, and has won on three occasions.
And lastly…how many Oscars have won Oscars?
Oscar Hammerstein II (of Rodgers & Hammerstein fame) has won the Academy Award for best song twice. His first win came in 1941 for the song ‘The Last Time I Saw Paris’ from the film ‘Lady Be Good’. His second win came in 1945 for ‘It Might as Well Be Spring’ from the movie ‘State Fair.’
While there’s no guarantee that the 85th annual Academy Awards will have great historical or even movie trivia significance; one thing is for sure.
It won’t be for lack of effort. With the oft-profane host Seth MacFarlane, musical performances by Adele, Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman, a controversy brewing already over one of the nominees being detained at Los Angeles International Airport, a tribute to Ian Flemings James Bond (in addition to the usual fanfare) and the acceptance speeches themselves…it should be another memorable night at the Oscars.