The Academy Awards have been an essential part of the visual arts ever since 1929 when films first started talking. However, the suspense and excitement that came with it wasn’t what it is now.
The first ceremony in May 1929 was a banquet in the Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. There were 270 people present and tickets for guests cost $5. There was no suspense, as the awards had already been announced three months earlier. It was the only ceremony to escape the presence of the media.
The next year, things were different. The Academy decided to make the results a secret until the actual ceremony. They did however, provide newspapers a list in advance for publication at 11 PM on awards night. The sealed-envelope system that the Academy uses today was born in 1941 after the Los Angeles Times broke the news of the winners before the ceremony the year before.
The second Academy Awards drew such attention that a Los Angeles radio station did a live one-hour broadcast of the ceremony. Ever since, the Awards have had some sort of broadcast coverage.
For 15 years, the awards were presented at banquets, not in theaters as it is today. They were first held at the Hollywood Roosevelt, then the Ambassador and Biltmore hotels. In 1942, the Academy ceased presenting the awards at banquets due to increased attendance and the war. Ever since, the presentation ceremonies have been held in theaters.
It has taken the Academy a great many years to find a theater to be the home of the Academy Awards. The 16th Academy Awards was held at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and stayed there for three years before moving to the Shrine Civic Auditorium. In 1949, the Awards took place in Melrose Avenue theater. For the next 11 years, the Awards were held at RKO Pantages Theatre in Hollywood.
Over the years, the ceremonies have had a home in the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of Los Angeles and finally the Kodak Theatre and Highland Center in Hollywood.
Only three instances have kept the Academy Awards from going as planned. In 1938, massive flooding in Los Angeles delayed the ceremony for one week. In 1968, the ceremony was postponed from April 8 to April 10 out of respect for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. after his assassination. In 1981, the ceremony was postponed for 24 hours because of the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.
However, when U.S. forces invaded Iraq in 2003, the show went on, but security was tight and the red carpet was done away with. In 2004, it returned and has stayed in all its glory, glitz and glam.
Oscar History, Oscars.com