The Oscars, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences were conceived by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio boss, Louis B Mayer. It was an attempt to improve Hollywood and the motion picture’s image. The 1st award ceremony was held May 16, 1929 at the Hotel Roosevelt in Hollywood. There was no taping or telecast of the ceremony. Only 250 people were in attendance. The ceremony was to honor achievements for the years of 1927 and 1928. It was hosted by Douglas Fairbanks.
The origin of the name “Oscar” is a bit contested. Bette Davis claims in a biography that is named it after her first husband. Also claiming credit is the Academy secretary, Margaret Herrick, who first saw the award in 1931. She stated that the statuette reminded her of her Uncle Oscar. The official name of the Oscar statuette is the Academy Award of Merit.
Throughout the years there have been many memorable moments. I would like to recount a few of my personal favorites.
1996 – Cuba Gooding Jr. Goes Nuts
Receiving an award for his role in Jerry Maguire, Cuba just had so much love. There was love for everyone and then some. It was supposed to be Tom Cruise’s night, but he left empty handed but with a heart full of love. Cuba continued on with his offerings of love even as the band tried to usher him off stage. The audience was on its feed feeling the “love”.
1995 – Samuel Says the “S” Word
Samuel L Jackson getting beat out of best supporting actor for his role in Pulp Fiction by Martin Landau forgot the gracious grim and bear it mentality and instead opted for an “awwwl S**t!” as the cameras were rolling. OOOPS!
1963 – The Battle of Bette and Joan
With no love lost between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford it was quite dismaying when Davis was nominated for her role in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, Crawford was not. Crawford busied herself to contact all the other nominees telling them if they were unable to attend and accept their award she would gladly do so in their honor. Anne Bancroft was the winner that evening and was not in attendance. Just as promised, on cue Crawford took to the stage accepting on her behalf. This was much to the glaring fury of Bette Davis.
1994 – Tom Hanks Outs His Teacher
In an emotion filled acceptance speech by Tom Hanks for Best Actor in Philadelphia; he gave thanks to his high school drama teacher, calling Rawley Farnsworth one of the “finest gay Americans”. Problem was that nobody knew Farnsworth was gay. This mishap did however become the inspiration for the movie In & Out. Who knew……well now everybody does.
1992 – Palance and the Push Ups
After receiving the award for Best Supporting Actor in City Slickers, Jack Palance declared he could “crap bigger” than co-star Billy Crystal. Then in an effort to prove his “toughness” he proceeded to do a series of one arm pushups right on stage. At the age of 73 this was no easy task. You just don’t mess with Jack!
1973 – The Streaker
Host David Niven had one of his segments interrupted by a surprise appearance by Robert Opel. Opel, streaking across the stage giving the peace sign was quite a shocking sight. But with all the class in the world and without missing a beat Niven responded by saying “The only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping and showing his shortcomings.” This will always be a very unforgettable moment.
There are lots more moments from the past years of Oscars, you can visit the site www.empireonline.com/oscars2009/moments/default.asp to see more.