The A to Z of the Oscars

Article excerpt

Ais for Academy The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a professional honorary organisation comprised of more than 6000 movie business artists and craftsmen.

It promotes technical and educational co-operation but does not get involved in the economic, trade union or political side of the industry.

It was formed in May 1927 as a non-profit making corporation and it's first president was Douglas Fairbanks Snr.

B is for Black Hattie McDaniel, who starred in Gone With The Wind, became the first back person ever to sit at an Oscars banquet in 1939.

When she won the Best Actress prize later that evening, the enormity of what she had achieved made her burst into tears. It was a landmark for the American film industry.

C is for Consecutive Only two people have managed Oscar nominations over five consecutive ceremonies. Bette Davis between 1938 and 1942 and Greer Garson 1941-1945.

Those with four consecutive years are Jennifer Jones 1943-46; Thelma Ritter 1950-53, Marlon Brando 1951-54, Elizabeth Taylor 1957-60 and Al Pacino 1972-75.

D is for Draw It is possible for two awards to be made if the votes reach a draw - but it has only happened twice in the major categories.

In 1931, Fredric March (Dr Jekyll and My Hyde) shared the best actor award with Wallace Beery (The Champ).

And in 1986, the Best Actress prize was given to both Katharine Hepburn (The Lion in Winter) and Barbra Streisand (Funny Girl).

E is for Eleven Eleven is the number they all want to beat. When Ben Hur won 11 awards in 1959, they said it could never be done again. But Titanic matched it in 1997 and so did The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King in 2003. Only one film has scooped 10 awards - West Side Story in 1961.

F is for First The first Oscars ceremony was on May 16, 1929, in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

Attendance was 250 and tickets were $10.

There was little suspense in those days with winners announced prior to the dinner. The famous 'sealed envelope' was introduced in 1941 after guests at the 1940 ceremony discovered the winning names were in the early edition of the Los Angeles Times on sale in the foyer.

G is for Gathering The greatest gathering of stars at any Oscars came in 1997. To celebrate its 70th anniversary, the Academy invited all surviving winners of leading or supporting acting awards.

By strange coincidence, exactly 70 of them turned up.

H is for Heel How do you know if an Oscar is real?

Look behind the statuette's heels and a tiny serial number is just visible. During the Second World War, the gold plated Oscars were made of plaster to save metal. After 1945, they were all redeemed for the genuine article.

I is for Interruption The most memorable interruption to any ceremony was a nude streaker, holding a 'peace' sign, running across the stage in 1973.

J is for Jack Jack Nicholson is the Oscar's most honoured male actor. He has been nominated 12 times, with three wins.

K is for Kirk Kirk Douglas received an Honorary Oscar in 1995. Many thought he was too ill to speak, but Kirk spoke clearly and emotionally: 'I see my four sons - they are proud of the old man.'

L is for Longest The longest standing ovation came in 1971. After French Connection won the Best Picture award, the auditorium went dark and flickering images of early Charlie Chaplin movies were screened. When the lights went up, the great man himself was on the stage to receive an Honorary Oscar. The ovation lasted 16 minutes.

M is for Membership Membership of the Academy is by invitation of the Board of Governors and is limited to those who have achieved distinction in the arts and sciences of motion pictures.

Anyone who receives an Academy Award nomination is automatically offered membership. …