Brownielocks and The 3 Bears

The History of the Oscars
(aka Academy Awards)

Cartoon Fun

March 10, 2024



When the Academy was set up, the cost of a movie ticket was just 25 cents. And, the motion picture industry was the 4th largest in the USA.

Although it's technically The Academy Awards, many also just refer to it as The Oscars, named after the award that's given. 

How did the idea for the Academy Awards start?

By the end of the 1920's, the motion picture industry was the 4th largest in the U.S.  And, by 1928 it's estimated that approximately 500 full-length movies were being made a year to accommodate the demands by weekly audiences across the country. Of course, Hollywood had it's critics.  Church groups and the PTA were a couple that accused the movies of being a harmful influence on American society. So, in order to not be censored by outside forces, the movie industry proceeded to set up it's own governing unit for quality in 1922.  They hired Will H. Hays, a former Postmaster General, to set up some guidelines for good taste in movies. In spite of this, some states still wanted to regulate their own censorships when it came to viewing movies in their areas.

Another problem back in the early days of Hollywood was the start of unions. In November of 1926, a Studio Basic Agreement was signed between nine film studios, plus unions that represented workers like carpenters, musicians, stagehands, painters, electricians, etc.  There was also a competition between studios as far as film technology advances.  Each studio was keeping it's own secrets about what it developed for it's films.  Because of this, it seemed each studio had it's own standard of film making quality.

About five weeks after the Studio Basic Agreement was signed, the idea for an Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences  (AMPAS) was being sparked.  A luncheon between Louis B. Mayer (MGM studio chief),  Conrad Nagel (actor), Fred Niblo (director) and  Fred Beetson (producer) at Mr. Mayer's home in Santa Monica is where it was agreed that the movie industry needed to organize something to help the movie industry deal with its problems both creative, technical and labor.  As a result of the luncheon idea, on January 11, 1927 another larger event was organized at the Ambassador Hotel in LA for thirty-six people in the film industry.  It's these 36 people who are the founders of what we know today as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  The 36 were as follows:  Louis B. Mayer, Conrad Nagel, Fred Niblo, Fred Beetson, J.A. Bail, Richard Barthelmess, Charles H. Christie, George Cohen, Cecil B. DeMille, Douglas Fairbanks, Joseph W. Farnham, Cedric Gibons, Benjamin Glazer, Sid Grauman, Milton Hoffman, Jack Holt, Henry King, Jesse Lasky, M.C. Levee, Frank Lloyd, Harold Lloyd,  Edwin Loeb, Jeanie MacPherson, Bess Meredyth, Mary Pickford, Roy Pomeroy, Harry Rapf, Joseph Schenck, Milton Sills, John Stahl, Irving Thalberg, Raoul Walsh, Harry Warner, Jack L. Warner, Carey Wilson and Frank Woods.


Once the articles of incorporation were set up, the first president of the Academy was Douglas Fairbanks.  Vice President, Fred Niblo, M.C. Levee was treasurer and Frank Woods was the Secretary.   On May 4, 1927 the State of California approved a charter for the Academy as a non-profit enterprise.  Later that evening at the Biltmore Hotel (Crystal Ballroom) 300 people attended, out of which were 230 new members who signed up as the first members.  The cost was a check for $100.

As in the beginning, even today to become a member of the Academy you must be invited.  They do not hold membership drives.  In order to get invited, you must have achieved some distinction in one of the branches such as,  Producers, Actors, Directors, Writers, Technicians, etc. Once you are a member, you are a member for life!  However, in a few situations, some members have had their status changed from "active" to "associate."  This means that they can't vote for the Oscars (only active members do that) but they are still a member of the Academy.

The first headquarters for the Academy was located at 6912 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA.  After just a few months they outgrew it.  Budget problems prevented them from building a whole new building. Instead they ended up moving into the Roosevelt Hotel (Mezzantine Floor) at 7010 Hollywood Boulevard, LA.  

On September 18, 1973 they broke ground for a new Academy headquarters at 8949 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA.  The designer for the building was Maxwell Starkman.  The building was finished on December 8, 1975.


One of the first branches  of the Academy was The Award of Merits Committee whose members were: Richard Barthelmess, D.W. Griffith, Henry King, Sid Grauman, Bess Meredyth, J. Stuart Blackton and Cedric Gibbons.  These members were giving thought to the idea of having some sort of awards presentation.  But, it got pushed back for a year until July, 1928 with 12 categories for awards as follows:

Most Outstanding Production Achievement in Dramatic Directing Achievement in Art Directing Achievement in Writing Adaptation
Achievement by an Actor Achievement in Comedy Directing Achievement in Engineering Effects Achievement in Title Writing
Achievement by an Actress Achievement in Cinematography Achievement in Original Story Writing Most Artistic or Unique Production

*Sound awards were not given until the next year, 1930.

The awards would be given for pictures released between August 1, 1927 to July 31, 1928.  Studios were asked to let the Academy know what films were released during that time. Once they got the list, five Board of Judges (one from each branch) were then to narrow it down to 3 finalists in each category.  Then the Central Board of Judges were decide the winner from the 3 finalists of each group.  On February 15, 1929 (six months after the closing date to submit) the winners were announced to the press.  Then 3 months later, on May 16, 1929 the awards were presented.

The release time remained the same until 1933 when they changed the date from January 1 to December 31 as the eligibility dates. So the 6th Academy Awards had 17 months eligibility for the movies.  From then on, until today, the January 1 to December 31 eligibility remains the same.

On May 16, 1929, the first Academy Awards ceremony was held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel (Blossom Room).  Approximately 250 people were there, dressed in formal attire.  The odd thing about this event is that people already knew who the winners were!  (It was announced 3 months earlier)  

The very first actor, which was the very first award presented that night, went to Emil Jannings, for Best Actor in "The Last Command" and "The Way of All Flesh." Ironically, he wasn't there to accept it because after he was told he won, he had his photo taken with the picture (before the ceremony) and then moved to Germany, never to return to the US. So, the first Oscar statute  given went to Emil Jannings also. And, he is also the first winner at a ceremony to not show up!

Apparently, they didn't think ladies should go first? The first female to win an Oscar for Best Actress went to Janet Gaynor in "Seventh Heaven."  And, I could go on and list other winners, but there are other sites that have all the technical data  facts that I invite you to visit.

The only thank-you speech at this ceremony was by Darryl F. Zanuck (The Jazz Singer) given for the first talkie.  No one else said anything. Apparently they just grabbed their statues and that was that?

I'm not sure if there was a red carpet at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel when you walked into in 1929; or, if there was even a long red rug that led people into the Blossom Banquet Hall, but the red carpet today is just as much a symbol of the Academy Awards as the Oscar Statue is IMHO.  The custom to roll out a red carpet for royal processions goes back thousands of years.  In 485 B.C.,  Greek playwright Aeschylus has one of his characters (Agamemnon) in his plays , walk a red carpet fit only for "the feet of the gods." But, the first place in the U.S. to actually have a red carpet for it's customers to walk on is believed to be the New York Central Railroad, (from 1902-1967) then owned by Vanderbuilt,  which had a red carpet in its station to help guide its passengers to and from the train. 

In 1922, Sid Grauman, who owned the Egyptian Theatre had a red carpet in front of his establishment.  This is 7 years before the Academy began. And, Mr. Grauman was also one of the original 36 founding members of the Academy.  Perhaps he brought up the idea to have a red carpet at the ceremonies?  And, in 1944 the ceremony was moved to Grauman's Chinese Theater, (owned by Sid Grauman),. I assume it had a red carpet in front of it just like the Egyptian theater did.  This is where I think the origin of the red carpet for the Award Ceremonies began, but I can't prove it. ;)

The red carpet as we know it today is made in Dalton, Georgia and is nylon.
The color, technically, is more burgundy (died per the Academy's specifications), but looks red on television. The carpet weighs about 5 tons, and comes in 300-pound rolls.  The sections are cut and glued into place very skillfully so that no one trips when they walk.  This takes a crew about 2 days. It's also given a protectorant so that the dye doesn't come off on all those expensive shoes the celebs wear. Does the Academy buy a new carpet every year? No.  Every other year they do.  One year they have it cleaned and the next year they get a new one. Can you tell which year is which?

The Academy Awards show through the years has switched locations several times. 
It has also switched from NBC to ABC, back and forth several times.   It began as a simple dinner at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and just a few years ago, ended up in it's own theatre, called the Kodak Theatre.  

But, why all the moving?  In some cases it had to do with room and other cases it had to do with politics.  During WWI, the Awards were moved from a dinner atmosphere to the theatre (Grauman's Chinese Theatre), with no fancy dinner afterwards as a sign of humility.  For the 19th Awards Show, (3/13/47) the event was moved to the Shrine Auditorium.  On April 17, 1961 the Awards were moved to the Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica, CA. They remained there for 8 years. On April 14, 1969 it moved to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. It bounced back and forth between the Shrine Civic Auditorium and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion until it moved into it's final spot, the Kodak Theatre in 2002.

In 1998 the Oscar Awards show officially got a theme song written by Jerry Goldsmith called "Fanfare for Oscar."


Cedric Gibbons, was MGM's Art Director in 1928.  He is the one who designed the statue that's given out.  He had sketched a knight standing on a reel of film holding a two-edged sword.  However, he used a Mexican actor named Emilio Fernandez (aka 'El Indio') as his model.  Mr. Fernandez had to flee Mexico in 1920 due to his political activities to overthrow the leader.  So, he went to Los Angeles and  there he met actress Dolores del Rio, who was Cedric Gibbons wife.   Since  Mr. Gibbons was the one responsible for coming up with a statue for this event, he asked Emilio Fernandez to pose for in the nude for him.   Emilio was not too eager to do it.  But, he eventually agreed.  The sketch Cedric made became the template for the statute's mold. The award was first printed on a scroll.  Then, George Stanley, an artist,  made the sculpture's mold (not Cedric Gibbons) based on Emilio's form which was then made into a statue and gold-plated in 1929.

 The statue remains the same today as it was back then and no changes have been made to it, except for a pedestal adjustment made in the 1940's.  The five holes in the base represent the original five branches: Actors, Directors, Producers, Technicians and Writers. Basically, ol' Oscar is just  a hairless, naked man with a sword plunging into a reel of film.  (During WWI and WWII, the statue was made out of plaster.) The statue is 13 1/2 inches tall, weighs 8 1/2 pounds and is made of britannium.  The outside is gold-plated.  In the beginning the statues were not numbered.  They started numbering them in 1949, starting with 501.  

The origin of the nickname of the statue, Oscar is debatable.  Some credit it to Margaret Herrick, the first librarian of the Academy who is said to have named it after her Uncle Oscar Pierce.  Others say it was Betty Davis who nicknamed it after her husband (at that time) Harmon Oscar Nelson.  Rumor has it that Oscar's butt reminded her of him. ;)  And yet others claim it was Sidney Skoksky, a columnist who named it Oscar because he got tired of writing, the award or the statue and/or trying to come up with some clever acronym for it. So, he just used the name from on old vaudeville joke, "Have a cigar, Oscar?"  

But, calling it "Oscar" was sort of an inside thing until 1933 when Walt Disney won for his "Three Little Pigs" under Best Short.  In his thank-you speech, Walt called it "Oscar" which was the very first time the award had been called that publicly.

Whomever began it started something because it's been called Oscar ever since. And, it is easier to say than the official title of Academy's Award of Merit.  There was an attempt once to call it "The Iron Man" but that never really stuck.

The Oscar design was officially copyrighted on September 2, 1941.

For child winners, Shirley Temple and Margaret O'Brien, smaller miniature statutes of Oscar were given to them.  Years later, they were given full-size statutes.

The mold that Oscar is made out of eventually got worn.  So, in 1998, the Academy approved a new mold that would give Oscar as stronger chin and chiseled neck.

Besides the actual Oscar statue awards for the Academy's branches, they also present the following special awards at the ceremony:

Name of Award


Annual Merit Award

Honors the different film categories for special achievements.

Scientific or Technical Achievement

Honors new technology in film-making.

Irving G. Thalberg Award

Honors a creative producer whose entire body of work is consistently high-quality.

Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award

Any individual in the industry motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the film industry.

Gordon E. Sawyer Award

Any individual in the industry motion picture industry whose technical efforts have brought credit to the film industry.

Honorary Awards

Honors outstanding achievements not strictly within the other categories , for exceptionally distinguished service in the making of the motion pictures or for outstanding service to the Academy.

The first two Awards Shows were private. But, the third Acadamy Awards show was broadcast on radio station KNX on April 3, 1931.  It wasn't the entire show. And, it was never the entire show that was broadcast for the next 15 years (on the radio).  It wasn't broadcast in its entirety until March 15, 1945, over the Armed Forces Radio Service and also on ABC. The Oscars  were broadcast both on radio and television up until 1969.

On March 19, 1953, the Academy Awards  first appeared on television via NBC from the Pantages Theatre. It was the Academy's 25th anniversary.  In the beginning, RCA Victor paid for the show to be on television.  Thus, there were no commercials!  However, by 1959, the motion picture industry decided it couldn't pay for the television broadcast anymore.  So, in 1960, sponsors (commercials) began. It also got moved to ABC.  

Usually presented on a Thursday night, the Awards changed to Wednesday night in 1955.  But that lasted only 3 years.  Then it was changed to Monday nights in 1959 and remained so until 1999 when the ceremony changed to Sunday.  Because they  often last for more than three hours, to help improve ratings, the ceremony was changed to start earlier (for those in later time zones).  For many years they were held in March.  But, in 2004 they were moved into February to help go along with the Academy's movie season rule of January to December.

The first time the Academy Awards were shown in color on television was on ABC on April 18, 1966.  By 1969, the Awards Show was no longer broadcast on the radio.  It was on television only and now seen world-wide in 37 countries.

A few shows stand out due to their length.  In 1958 the show surprisingly ended 20 minutes early. Jerry Lewis (the host) ended up grabbing an orchestra baton and clowning around to kill time.

The 56th Oscar (4/9/84) was the first very long show: 3 hours, 42 minutes.

The 72nd Oscar (3/26/00) was even longer: 4 hrs. 8 minutes.

The next year, the 73rd Oscar show was 37 minutes under 4 hours!

But, the following year, the 74th Oscar show lasted 4 hours, 28 minutes, which is the longest show (so far!).  It was also the first show held in the new Kodak Theater in Hollywood, CA. Although this might have been the longest show, it didn't have the longest thank-you speech in it.  That distinction  belongs to Greer Garson (Best Actress for Mrs. Miniver) who talked for over 6 minutes in her 1942 acceptance speech.

The shows have had several M.C.'s through the years. But, Bob Hope is the person who hosted the Academy Awards the most.  He did it 17 times.

 From the beginning, the Academy began collecting periodicals from all over the world, creating the idea for a library for the Academy.  By December of 1930, this library was praised as having the best collection of motion picture information in existence at the time.  Soon after, the library moved to 1455 North Gordon Street. In 1936, Margaret Herrick was hired to be the Academy library's first full-time librarian.

But, the Academy didn't just collect information on film for it's library. In 1928, "Report on Incandescent Illumination" was the first publication put out by the Academy.  (American Society of Cinematographers)  In 1929 they published "Introduction to Photoplay."  In 1931, they published another book called, "Recording Sound for Motion Pictures."  What didn't work was the magazine that the Academy tried to publish, called "Motion Picture Arts and Sciences."  It lasted just one issue!  The Academy did go on to publish, "Annual Index to Motion Picture Credits."   "The Academy Players Directory" began in 1937 and is still published bi-annually today.

In May, 1928 the Academy got approved for a screening facility to be set up in the Club Lounge of the Roosevelt Hotel.  This was during the time when movies were going from silent to talking.  As a result, movie theatres all over the US were in great demand for the new talking equipment, which put a  one-year delay on the new screening facility for the Academy.  They didn't get their state-of-the-art Vitaphone, Movietone, etc. until April 1929.

In 1969, the Academy set up the Black American History Collection at the library.

The Academy has changed it's rules so many times, that it would be a page alone. But, some of the important changes are:

---In 1929 they said it was "one vote per member."  So, studio heads like Louis B. Mayer had one vote just like a stage hand had one vote.

---In 1934 they allowed write-in votes because some were upset that Betty Davis wasn't even on the voting ballot. But, the first (and only) Oscar winner via a write in happened March 5, 1936 when cinematographer, Hal Mohr, won.

---In 1936 they allowed Supporting Actor/Actress awards to be given. They didn't get a statute, however. They were given plaques.  They wouldn't get a full statute until 1943. 

---Up until 1941, the winners were informed prior to the ceremony. But, as of show held on February 27, 1941, the winners were now kept secret until that night. Note: In 1999 the Wall Street Journal polled the Academy members prior to the ceremony and published their results. They were right 99.9% (missed Best Actor) and the Academy was just totally upset!

---As of 1941, an Oscar winner was NOT allowed to sell or get rid of his statute without first offering to sell it back to the Academy for $10.

---The first foreign film honored was at the 19th Academy Awards show (1947). It was an Italian movie called "Shoe-Shine."  But, an official Foreign Film category wasn't set up until 1956.

---On February 6,  1957 the Academy stated that anyone who is a member of the Communist party could not win an Oscar.  This caused a big stir and was later revoked on January 12, 1959.

---In 1948 the Academy began to honor costume designers for both black and white film and color film.

---In 1961 they said that to advertise in the trade papers for votes was in bad taste and discouraged.

---In 1967 Black & White movies were becoming rare. So the Academy dropped it's awards in that area and went with color only for Cinematography, Costume Design and Art Direction.

---In 1972 Short Subjects could not compete in both the Short Subjects and Documentary Categories.  (Even though many short subjects were documentaries technically.)

---In 1982 at the 54th Awards Ceremony, Make-up Artists were finally given their own category.  The first winner was Rick Baker for his work in the movie, "An American Werewolf in London."

---In 1995 they added the Visual Effects branch.

---In 2001 they added a new category called "Full Length Animated Picture."
    The first winner was "Shrek."

---For the 2003 Oscars telecast on 2-29-04, a new 5-second delay rule was put into effect due to a few weeks earlier the wardrobe malfunction of Janet Jackson's top at the Super Bowl.

---In 2003, MPAA Chief, Jack Valenti put a ban on sending out DVDs of the nominated films to the Academy voters. This later got overturned in court. 

---2005, those Academy Awards goodie bags given to all the nominees are now taxable income, so says the IRS!  (They average about $100,000)


The first responsibility the newly organized Academy had wasn't to set up the awards ceremony; it was to deal with a labor dispute where they were being pressured to do a 10% salary cut on all Hollywood personnel to help cut the costs of movie making. Studio workers were threatening a full scale strike!  The Producers branch of the Academy ended up preventing the strike.

To help improve the image of the movie industry, the Academy also got involved with charity.  The first project it chose was to raise money for the Mississippi River Relief Fund.  On May 12, 1927 it presented a check for $35,000 to them.

On May 24, 1927 Cecile B. DeMille and Milton Sills met with the University of S. California president to talk about setting up Cinema classes at the college.  Later on, classes were also set up at Columbia, Purdue, Yale and the University of Oregon.  But, the Student Film Awards (contests, awards and cash grants)  didn't begin until  1973 and was sponsored by both the Academy and AT&T .

The industry also allowed foreign film makers to come visit and share ideas.  The first was in 1930 when Russian film makers visited the Academy.  They also had some of their members tour the U.S. and lecture groups and schools about the movie industry.  But, in 1931 the Depression really hit the movie industry hard. And, the Academy did it's best to help studios during this time.  It formed an Emergency Committee and recommended studio employees take a 50% pay cut, rather than a total shut down of the studio. They also did a temporary pay scale adjustment (later returned to full pay by April 1933), with the condition that the Academy is allowed to inspect the studio's books to make sure things are fair.  It is during this time that the accounting firm of Price Waterhouse & Company was hired for auditing the studios.  And, in 1936 the Academy made Price Waterhouse the official tabulators for the Awards Show ballot count.  As a result, the Academy was a big help in keeping the movie industry alive during the Depression era.

Some members were beginning to get upset over the Academy's control over such things as salary, licensing of agencies, etc. In July 1933, they broke away and started The Screen Actor's Guild (SAG).  Four months later, over 1,000 actors had left the Academy and joined SAG.  This negativity continued for a couple of years, even affecting the 1936 Awards Show where some guilds and unions for writers, actors, craftsmen, etc. boycotted it.  Due to this boycott,  Dudley Nichols (screenwriter) became the very first to refuse an Academy Award. He did attend (didn't boycott); but, after his name was announced he got up and said he couldn't accept it.

In 1937, Frank Capra was president of the Academy.  He tried to get it to become less involved in labor and management problems. But, the Academy continued for several years to have its membership go up and down based on various issues.

In 1966, the Awards Show came close to being cancelled due to a union strike by the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) that governed TV broadcasts.  The situation got settled just 3 hours before airtime!

On April 11, 1988, Oscar's 60th Anniversary Show has a writer's strike! They had such a traffic jam trying to get to the Shrine Auditorium that many had to leave their limos and walk blocks.

The Academy was asked by the U.S. government in 1930 to help train officers of the Signal Corp to make military training films.  The Academy agreed, and they trained one officer a year for 8 years.

When WWII came, the head of 20th Century Fox (through the Academy) encouraged other studios to unite; and, as a patriotic gesture (non-profit) produce military training films for free, using older equipment. They would only charge the government for the cost of the film and it's processing. As a result, the studios made approximately 400 training films for the government.

The Awards held on February 26, 1942 were very grim and purposely low-key dinner because of the bombing of Pearl Harbor just a few week before and the death of Carol Lombard (in a plane crash) on January 16, 1942.

During the war years, Oscar was made out of plaster.

In 1990, the Academy Awards had security measures (metal detectors) for the first time due to the Gulf War.

When Spencer Tracy won his Best Actor award in 1937 (Captain's Courageous), his Oscar had the name "Dick Tracy" on it by mistake.

On April 9, 1962, a gate crasher suddenly appeared on stage and presented Bob Hope with a small hand-made Oscar (since Bob never won any officially.)

In 1967 the Awards Show was delayed two days because of Martin Luther King's assassination.

In 1968, Katharine Hepburn and Barbara Streisand both won Best Actress Oscars.  They are the first EXACT TIE winners!

In 1971, the Nixon administration blacklisted Vanessa Redgrave from the Academy Awards.  Later, in 1977, when she won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress (Julia), she have an anti-Zionist acceptance speech.

45th Academy Awards Marlon Brando won Best Actor for "The Godfather" but refused it based on his objections to how he felt the American Indians were being treated in film and television. He sent Sacheen Little Feather to read his rejection.

The 46th Awards Show (4-2-74) had a stripper run across the stage in front of David Niven.  The man was Robert Opal who 5 years later was found murdered in San Francisco.

For the 1975 voting, Glenda Jackson's ballot was disqualified because she apparently didn't pay her $50 Academy dues that year. 

In 1988 Creative House Promotions got sued by the Academy for making replica Oscar statues and had to pay $300,000 fine.

The 60th Awards Show had a nominee wanted by the police!  Gustav Hasford (Screenplay nominee) was wanted in connection with grand theft charges of a large collection of library books.  He didn't attend. He didn't win.

In 1990, after the Gulf War began, the only Academy attendee who didn't have to walk through a metal detector was Bob Hope.

In 1993 Sid Luft (Judy Garland's ex-husband) was stopped by court action from selling Judy's special 1940's special Oscar Juvenille for "Wizard of Oz." (Actually it was a replacement. She lost the original.)

In 1995 Margaret O'Brien got back her miniature Oscar statute that was stolen from her years earlier.

In 1997 Clark Gable's Oscar ("It Happened One Night) was sold in his estate by his son.  It was purchased by an anonymous buyer for $607,500 and donated to the Academy.  Steven Spielberg was the anonymous bidder!

Howard Ashman died of AIDS months before he won an Oscar for original song, "Beauty and The Beast" (co-wrote with Alan Menken). He is the first Oscar winner to die of AIDS and win posthumously.  But, he's not the first posthumous winner. That was Sidney Howard (Gone With The Wind) for Screenwriting.  Before the ceremony he died in a tractor accident. But, the first actor to be nominated posthumously (twice actually) was James Dean.

The 72nd Oscars had all sorts of issues.  The final ballots got lost in the mail.  Then a week later, several crates (55 Oscar statutes) went missing!  The maker rose to the occasion and heroically made new ones.  As soon as they did, the original ones were found in Bell, California.


"You know you've entered into a new territory when you realize your outfit costs more than your film." --- Jessica Yo, Oscar-winner for "Breathing Lessons" (Short Documentary)

I think from the time the Academy Awards were shown on television, what the stars wore became very important.  A lot is said every year about who wore what, the good and the bad, the high thigh cut, to the low cleavage cut.

  Then we have the jewels. I could be wrong, but I think the celebrity who came decked out in the most costliest bling for an Academy Awards show was nominee Gloria Stuart, when "Titanic" was nominated.  Gloria had more Harry Winston body guards than anyone else because she was said to be wearing a sapphire necklace worth over $20 Million!

  But, for some reason, the best dressed seem to fall from our memories and the worst and most shocking seem to remain.  So, I won't take up space writing about the Academy Awards fashions.  I will mention a couple of outfits that have been memorable throughout the years.

The first to surprise everyone was Joanne Woodward, who came to the Academy Awards show in a dress that she made herself!  "I spent $100 on the material, designed the dress and worked on it for two weeks."  This is when she won Best Actress for "Three Faces of Eve" in 1957.   "I'm almost as proud of that dress as I am my Oscar," Joanne said later.  However,  Joan Crawford cattily said that Woodward had set Hollywood glamour back 20 years with that homemade dress.  

The first was Cher back at the 57th Awards show with her barely-there black strap, spider-liked thingie designed by Bob Mackie.  Then we had Lizzy Gardiner wear a dress made out of gold American Express cards at the 67th Awards Shows. Shall we not forget that white feathered swan dress?  Or the dresses that well, are more like nightgowns?

In 1999 Trey Parker and Matt Stone (South Park creators) came to the Academy ceremony dressed in drag as Jennifer Lopez and Gwyneth Paltrow.  

Does the Academy have a dress code or can you show up in anything?  Who knows!  But, I'm sure we've all got our "most shocking outfit." And, I'm sure there's more shock to come in future ceremonies!

Now that you've read all this, take a shot at our Oscar trivia.

Sources of Information:

CBS Boston

"75 Years of the Oscar -- Official History of the Academy Awards"
by Robert Osborne
Abbeville Press © 2003

"The Complete, Unofficial History of The Academy Awards"
by Jim Piazza and Gail Kinn
Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers © 2002

"All About Oscar - The History and Politics of the Academy Awards" 
by Emanuel Levy
Continuum International Publishing © 2003  (Oscar's Reluctant Muse)

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