Academy Awards, USA

Los Angeles, California, USA


  • The Academy Award (Oscar) is the main national film award in the USA.
  • The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a professional honorary organization composed of over 6,000 motion picture craftsmen and women. (as of 1999)
  • As of 2000 the award ceremonies have been held 25 times at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 11 at the Pantages Theatre, 10 at the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium, 8 times each at the Biltmore Hotel and the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 6 at the Ambassador Hotel, 3 at Grauman's Chinese Theatre and once each at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and the Academy Award Theater (1949 Melrose Avenue headquarters).
  • As of 2001 88 countries have submitted films for the foreign-language category at least once over the years.
  • The Academy Awards ceremonies are commonly named after their according year of eligibility of films. E.g. the ceremony which took place in March 1997 is referred to as the 1996 Academy Awards.
  • The Oscar statuette has been designed by 'Cedric Gibbons' and sculpted by Los Angeles artist George Stanley. Each statuette is made from the alloy britannium and is then plated in copper, nickel silver, and finally, 24-karat gold and is manufactured by R.S. Owens and Company in Chicago. It stands 13-1/2 inches tall and weighs 8-1/2 pounds. The Oscar depicts a knight, holding a crusader's sword, standing on a reel of film. The film reel features five spokes, signifying the five original branches of the Academy (actors, directors, producers, technicians and writers.)
  • How Oscar received his nickname is not exactly clear. The most popular story is that Margaret Herrick, an Academy employee and eventual executive director, remarked that the statuette resembled her Uncle Oscar, and the Academy staff began to refer to it by that name. Whatever the actual origin of the nickname, it was well enough known by 1934 that Walt Disney supposedly used it during an acceptance speech that year. Although journalists used the nickname with increasing frequency during the late 1930s, the Academy did not officially use the name Oscar until 1939.


Academy Award of Merit
  • Also known as Scientific and Technical Award Class I.

Award of Commendation
  • This is a honorary award.

Gordon E. Sawyer Award
  • The award is named for 'Gordon Sawyer', former Head of the Sound department at Samuel Goldwyn Studios and a member of the AMPAS Scientific and Technical Awards Committee from 1936 to 1977, who claimed that the lists of past awards, arranged both chronologically and by category, represented a history of the development of motion pictures.

Honorary Award
  • The Honorary Award does not have a specific format. It depends on the situation and is chosen by the Board of Governors.

Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award

Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award

John A. Bonner Award

Juvenile Award
  • This is a honorary award.

Medal of Commendation
  • This is a honorary award. It is named in honor of the late director of special projects at Warner Hollywood Studios, John A. Bonner.


Scientific and Engineering Award
  • Also known as Scientific and Technical Award Class II.

Special Achievement Award

Special Commendation
  • This is a honorary award.

Technical Achievement Award
  • Also known as Scientific and Technical Award Class III.

Historical Timeline

  • Up to at least 1975 The Last Command (1928) and The Way of All Flesh (1927) were officially listed as nominees in the category "Best Picture, Production" by AMPAS and are listed as such in many contemporary sources. Recent AMPAS listings do not carry those two titles any longer.
  • The awards are given for films released between 1 August 1927 and 1 August 1928.
  • Award winners are announced three months in advance of the banquet.
  • All nominees receive 'Honorable Mention' certificates.
  • The attendance is 250 and tickets cost USD 10.
  • For the only time, separate awards for Best Picture are given - for "Production" and "Unique and Artistic Picture." Separate awards are also given in directing, for comedy and drama.
  • For the only time, an award is given for Title Writing - a field which became obsolete with the advent of synchronized sound films.

  • The awards are given for films released between 2 August 1928 and 31 July 1929.
  • There are no 'officially' announced nominees.

  • Thomas A. Edison was presented an honorary Academy membership and gave a post-dinner talk. George Eastman was also presented an honorary membership.
  • The awards are given for movies made between 1 August 1929 and 31 July 1930.
  • For the third and last time, the statuettes are made of bronze castings with 24k gold plating. Later statuettes are all made of britannium.

  • The awards are given for films released between 1 August 1930 and 31 July 1931.

  • The awards are given for films released between 1 August 1931 and 31 July 1932.

  • The awards are given for films released between 1 August 1932 and 31 December 1933.

  • The Academy allows write-in votes on the final ballot after complaints that neither Bette Davis (Of Human Bondage (1934)) nor Myrna Loy (The Thin Man (1934)) were nominated.
  • From 1935 to 1938 best score is considered a music department achievement and the award is given to the department head instead of to the composer(s).

  • For the last time write-in nominations are allowed.
  • For the first time an organization external to the Academy, the public accounting firm Price Waterhouse Co., tabulates the voting ballots.
  • Many Academy members are boycotting the awards party, because of disputes between industry guilds and the Academy over union issues.
  • From 1935 to 1938 best score is considered a music department achievement and the award is given to the department head instead of to the composer(s).

  • For the first time awards are presented for Best Supporting Actor and Actress, but the winners receive plaques instead of statuettes for the first seven years. All plaques were later replaced with statuettes.
  • From 1935 to 1938 best score is considered a music department achievement and the award is given to the department head instead of to the composer(s).

  • The ceremony is postponed on short notice one week because of heavy rainfall in the Los Angeles area.
  • From 1935 to 1938 best score is considered a music department achievement and the award is given to the department head instead of to the composer(s).

  • For the 11th Academy Awards, names the of nominees for the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award were announced for the first and only time.

  • Pres. 'Franklin Delano Roosevelt' gives a six minute direct radio address to the attendees from the White House. It is the first time an American president participates in the event.
  • For the first time, names of all winners remain secret until the moment when they receive their awards.

  • The event is nearly canceled following the Pearl Harbor attack. Academy president Bette Davis suggests moving the event to an auditorium and allowing the public to buy tickets benefiting the Red Cross. Instead it is decided to tone down the event, as a 'dinner' rather than a banquet, including a ban on formal wear.

  • For the first time the award statuettes are made of plaster due to the war. All are replaced with standard statuettes after the war ends.
  • It is announced at the ceremonies that 27,677 members of the industry are serving in the armed forced.

  • For the first time winners in the categories Supporting Actor and Actress are receiving statuettes rather than plaques.

  • For the third and last time the awards are made of plaster, later to be replaced with the real thing.

  • Many of the nominees are in New York. They are holding a party at the La Zambra café - with which the awards ceremony sets up an open-circuit broadcast line in case any of the winners were in attendance there. Best Actor winner José Ferrer actually is in New York and delivers his acceptance speech to the Hollywood audience in this manner.

  • The ceremony is telecasted nation-wide in the USA and Canada for the first time.
  • The event is nearly canceled when several studios refuse to provide their usual funding, but is saved when NBC offers $100,000 for the television rights at the last minute. The broadcast draws the largest audience in the 5-year history of commercial television.

  • The second national telecast draws an estimated 43,000,000 viewers. 'Shirley Booth', appearing in a play in Philadelphia, presents the Best Actor award through a live broadcast cut-in, and privately receives the winner's name over the telephone from host Donald O'Connor. Gary Cooper filmed his presentation of the Best Actress award in advance on a set in Mexico, with O'Connor announcing the winner's name.

  • The nomination ballot for this year's ceremony lists the producers for the best foreign language film category, making it the role year ever to list names for that category in the entire history of AMPAS.

  • The awards show is held outside the Hollywood/downtown Los Angeles area for the first time due to the Pantages Theater's reconfiguration to accommodate a larger screen for Spartacus (1960). The Santa Monica Civic Auditorium was the only available venue of sufficient size.

  • An habitual gate-crasher managed to get past the 125 security guards and went on stage to present host 'Bob Hope' with a home-made Oscar.
  • Maximilian Schell became the first performer to win an Oscar for a role he had originated on television.

  • Host Frank Sinatra nearly missed the show because he forgot his parking sticker and was turned away from the arrivals area by security guards. He had to park his own car elsewhere and run to the auditorium, barely arriving in time.

  • The presentation of the music scoring awards went awry when presenter 'Sammy Davis Jr.' was handed the wrong envelope. After reading the nominees for adaptation score, he read the winner's name for the other category (original score) before the mix-up was discovered. Presented with the correct envelope, he read the correct winner's name before continuing to the now-suspenseless original score category.

  • For the first time, the Academy presents an award in the field of makeup.

  • The ceremony is telecasted in color for the first time.

  • For the first time in 25 years, sisters are nominated for best actress (Lynn Redgrave and Vanessa Redgrave).
  • The show is nearly canceled due to a technicians' labor strike which is settled three hours before the broadcast begins.

  • The ceremony is postponed from Monday, 8th, on short notice, because of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.
  • Due to the increasing rarity of black and white feature films, the awards for cinematography, art direction and costume design are combined into single categories rather than a distinction between color and black/white.

  • Beginning this year the ceremony is telecasted throughout the world.

  • There is no host. Instead, awards are presented by seventeen "Friends of Oscar."
  • For the first time, the award for best sound is given to the sound mixers themselves, rather than to the studio sound department.

  • Co-host Charlton Heston had a flat tire on the way to the event and arrived late, moments after Clint Eastwood (a spur-of-the-moment selection) had begun to fill in for him.

  • A man named Robert Opal notoriously streaks across the stage, in full view of hundreds of millions of TV viewers, just as co-host David Niven is about to introduce the Best Picture category.

  • Documentary award winner Bert Schneider read a controversial Vietnamese telegram as part of his acceptance speech. Later in the ceremony, co-host Frank Sinatra issued a disclaimer on behalf of the Academy disavowing any official endorsement of the telegram's content.


  • The scientific and technical awards become an independent dinner presentation for the first time.

  • For the first time, all five nominated songs are performed by the singers who originally performed them in the respective films.

  • The telecast is postponed one day because of the attempted assassination of president Ronald Reagan.

  • The new category 'Best Makeup' is introduced.

  • Presenter Laurence Olivier neglected to announce the names of the Best Picture nominees before revealing that Amadeus (1984) had won. However, producer Saul Zaentz deftly mentioned the other films in his acceptance speech.

  • The show's opening sequence included a musical number - taken from a stage revue - which featured Rob Lowe singing 'Proud Mary' with an actress playing Snow White. After threats of a lawsuit from the Disney Company over the unpermitted use of their cartoon character, the Academy ultimately was forced to apologize.

  • The show included segments broadcast from various places around the world, including a birthday tribute from Tokyo for honoree Akira Kurosawa. There were also segments done from Buenos Aires, London, Sydney and Moscow.

  • Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins created a controversy when, prior to presenting the award for best editing, they made a personal plea on behalf of 200 HIV-positive Haitians who were being detained at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba after having tried to reach Florida.


  • For the first time ever the ceremony is held on a Sunday.

  • 55 Oscar statuettes "disappear" while being shipped from their manufacturer R.S. Owens, Chicago, to Los Angeles. Over the weekend of March 18th 52 of those 55 statuettes are being found by salvage worker Willie Fulgear near a trash bin in Koreatown, Los Angeles. Fulgear is officially presented with a 50,000 dollar reward from Roadway Express, the trucking outfit that had been shipping the Oscars when they disappeared, and also is invited to the Oscar ceremony by the Academy. Probably only Oscar himself knows what would have happened if the statuettes had not been found as manufacturer R.S. Owens would not have been able to deliver a new batch of statuettes for the ceremony in time.
  • Over 4,000 Oscar voting ballots are lost in the mail, forcing a new batch to be sent out and prompting the Academy to extend the voting deadline by two days.

  • The honorary awards, traditionally a part of the spring Oscar ceremony, are moved to an extra ceremony called Governor Awards.

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