8 Little Known Facts About Oscars
You may think there's nothing much to tell about Oscars. It's a Hollywood event that's made by Hollywood folks for Hollywood folks. However, the Oscars night is watched by millions of people all around the world and is therefore an important part of mainstream culture (whether you like it or not). Here are some things you may haven't heard about the Academy Awards before.
Nobody knows where the name "Oscars" came from. According to one claim, actress Bette Davis named the award after Harmon Oscar Nelson, her first husband. Another legend depicts Academy Executive Secretary Margaret Herrick remarking that the statuette reminded her of her uncle - Oscar.
It is said that Emilio Fernández, the star of Sam Peckinpah's 1969 western The Wild Bunch, was the original nude model for designer Cedric Gibbons in 1928. Fernández was then a Mexican revolutionary living in exile in Los Angeles and taking bit parts in films.
The "usual" Oscar statue is made of a type of tin alloy called britannium and plated with gold. It weighs about 8.5 pounds and is more than a foot tall. A total of 50 statues per year are made in Illinois by R.S. Owens.
There are also "unusual" Oscar statues. For instance, Charlie McCarthy ventriloquist Edgar Bergen's honorary Oscar, awarded in 1938, was made of wood, while Walt Disney's honorary Oscar for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs consisted of one full-size statuette and seven miniature ones. Moreover, during the World War II, the Academy acknowledged the war effort and shortage of materials by fabricating the Oscars in plaster. These were later exchanged for the real thing.
Several Oscars have gone missing over the years, including:
- Olympia Dukakis's Moonstruck award was stolen from her home;
- Whoopi Goldberg's Oscar for Ghost was lost when it was sent out to be cleaned;
- William Hurt's award for Kiss of the Spider Woman went missing during a move in 2005;
- Bing Crosby's Going My Way Oscar was on display at Gonzaga University when a student replaced it with a Mickey Mouse figurine as a joke;
- Margaret O'Brien's mini Oscar for Outstanding Child Actress disappeared in 1954.
All lost Oscars were either found or replaced.
Academy Awards were not always sealed in envelopes. During the first ten years, Oscar winners' names were handed to newspapers at 11pm on award night. One year, the LA Times announced the award winners before the Academy actually gave them out, prompting the organization to change its ways.
Owning a trophy?
Oscar winners don't actually own their trophies. A 1950 Academy rule dictates that winners and heirs must offer their statuettes back to the Academy for $1 before offering them on the open market. As you can imagine, pre-1950 Academy Awards have been sold for millions of dollars.
You don't have to accept an Oscar
Not everyone accepted their Oscar award:
- Dudley Nichols, screenwriter of The Informant, refused the award because of a labor crisis between the Academy and the guilds;
- George C. Scott, Best Actor for Patton, hated the competitive nature of the Oscars and famously called them a "meat parade";
- Marlon Brando, Best Actor for The Godfather, protested the industry's treatment of Native Americans.
You may've noticed that the Oscar venue is always full. This is because when a star leaves his or her seat, one of an army of about 125 seat fillers goes into action. Unfortunately for these volunteers, they are explicitly told not to initiate conversations with celebrities or ask for autographs.
Show must go on...
The Oscar ceremony has never been canceled, though it was delayed three times: in 1938 due to flooding, in 1968 because of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, and in 1981 due to the assassination attempt on President Reagan.
Do you know some other interesting tidbit about Oscars? Please don't hesitate to share it with the rest of us. ;)