By Diane Forrest
Tonight is the 85th Academy Awards show, only now the name has been changed to The Oscars. The first full award presentation was at The Academy Awards banquet at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, and less than 250 people were present. Best actor, Emil Jannings, had requested that he receive his Academy Award earlier than the ceremony date, as he planned on returning to Europe sooner, and wanted to carry the statuette with him. His was actually the first Academy Award ever received. From 1969 until the present, The Academy Award show has been broadcast worldwide.
Legend has it that an Academy librarian, Margaret Herrick, said that the statue looked a lot like her Uncle Oscar, and the staff began jokingly referring to the statue as "Oscar." Through the late 1930's the name caught on, but it wasn't officially used by The Academy Award show until 1939. Another story about how he got his name was from actress Bette Davis, upon receiving her first Academy Award, took a glance at the statuette's rear, and proclaimed something like, "It looks like Oscar's derriere!" (She was referring to her husband, Oscar Nelson, Jr. and his backside.)
Another interesting fact about Oscar is during World War II, when there was a metal shortage, Oscar was made of nothing more than painted plaster. After the war was over, The Academy Awards board of directors replaced all the plaster statuettes, with the fine gold-plated Oscar that we are so familiar with. Oscar is 13 1/2 inches tall, and he weighs a hefty 8 1/2 pounds. Oscar is fashioned from Brittanium, plated with silver, nickel, and copper, and then finished off in impressive 24-karat gold. He's been the same for all these years, except for a slight alteration in 1945, when his pedestal was raised.
I have always loved watching the awards show since I was young. I love seeing all the stars dressed in their finest, I love looking at the wacky dresses and hearing the funny and emotional speeches, and I love being there when something outrageous happens, and to see if my favorite movie or actor wins.
So, tonight, if you plan on watching the awards, now known as the Oscars, go to this site and print out your own ballot and see if your picks win. No matter the outcome, it’s sure to be a great show, and Billy Crystal will be hosting again! Below are some more tidbits about the past shows.
Most acting wins: Four, by Katharine Hepburn (Morning Glory, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, The Lion in Winter, On Golden Pond)
Most acting nominations: 17, for Meryl Streep (two wins)
Most nominations for a single film: 14 (All About Eve, Titanic)
Films with the most nominations that were shut out: The Turning Point and The Color Purple, with 11 each
Most wins for a film: 11 (Ben-Hur, Titanic, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King)
Most Oscars won: 26, by Walt Disney (22 competitive, four honorary)
Most Oscars won by a woman: Eight, by costume designer Edith Head
Most nominations for someone still living: 47, for composer John Williams (five wins)
Oldest recipient: Production designer Robert F. Boyle, awarded an honorary Oscar at 98
Youngest recipient: Shirley Temple, who got the no-longer-presented Juvenile Oscar at 6
Youngest competitive acting winner: Tatum O’Neal (Paper Moon), 10
Oldest competitive acting winners: Jessica Tandy (Driving Miss Daisy) and George Burns (The Sunshine Boys), both 80
Longest Oscar telecast: 2002, 4 hours 23 min (Best Picture: A Beautiful Mind)
Shortest Oscar telecast: 1959, 1 hour 40 min (Best Picture: Gigi). The show ended 20 minutes early, forcing cohost Jerry Lewis to vamp until NBC could cut to a sports documentary.