Essential Oscar Facts

The biggest winners, the sorest losers and what happened when a naked man stormed the stage back in 1974

1)  Until 1941, the Oscar results were made available to newspapers ahead of being announced at the ceremony so they could be included in the next day’s editions. Several nominees found out whether they had won by nipping to the press room during the show, so the procedure was abandoned in favour of the sealed envelopes.

2)  The first colour film to win Best Picture was Gone With The Wind in 1940; the last black-and-white film to receive the award was The Artist in 2012.

3) Two films have won three acting awards: A Streetcar Named Desire in 1952 (Best Actress, Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Actor in a Supporting Role) and Network in 1977 (Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Actress in a Supporting Role) – but no film has yet bagged all four.

4)  Marlon Brando refused his Best Actor award for The Godfather in 1973 in protest against Hollywood’s treatment of Native Americans. He asked activist ‘Sacheen Littlefeather’ (an actress whose real name was Maria Cruz) to accept on his behalf. Littlefeather was booed, despite whittling her 15-page speech down to 45 seconds at the insistence of the organisers.

5)  Nominated for Best Director in 1934, Frank Capra was confident in winning for Lady For A Day. When host Will Rogers said, “Come and get it, Frank!”, Capra strode toward the podium, only to realise that Cavalcade director Frank Lloyd had won. “I felt like a miserable worm,” said Capra, who went on to win Best Director the following year for It Happened One Night.

6)  Two actors directed themselves to a Best Actor Oscar: Laurence Olivier for Hamlet in 1948 and Roberto Benigni for Life Is Beautiful in 1997.

7)  Only three films have ever won all five top prizes of Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Screenplay: It Happened One Night in 1935, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest in 1976 and The Silence Of The Lambs in 1992.

8)  Expecting to receive his first Best Director nomination in 1976 for Jaws, Steven Spielberg hired a documentary crew to film his reaction. When the nomination failed to materialise, Spielberg was instead caught on camera uttering the line, “I can’t believe it – they went for Fellini instead of me!”

9)  Prior to Sofia Coppola’s nomination in 2004 for Lost In Translation, only two women had ever been nominated in the Best Director category: Lina Wertmüller in 1977 for Pasqualino Settebellezze and Jane Campion in 1994 for The Piano. Neither won. Kathryn Bigelow was the first woman to win Best Director. No woman has ever been nominated in the categories of Sound or Cinematography.

10)  Dr Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb is the film with the longest title to ever be nominated for Best Picture, in 1965; Costa-Gavras’ Z, nominated five years later, is the shortest.

11)  The notorious 1989 ceremony featured a song-and- dance sequence pairing Rob Lowe with Snow White that led Disney to sue the Academy for unauthorised and unflattering use of the character. The case was dropped when the Academy publicly apologised.

12)  Three or four votes difference are counted as a tie. Oscar lore has it that Barbra Streisand’s admittance to the Academy ahead of the release of Funny Girl enabled her to vote for herself and tie with Katharine Hepburn for the 1969 Best Actress in a Leading Role award, but it seems likely there were a couple more votes in it.

13)  Walt Disney has the most Oscars to his name, with a grand total of 26.

14)  In consecutive years, two actresses were nominated for playing the same character: in 1998 Kate Winslet and Gloria Stuart were both shortlisted for playing Rose in Titanic, while Dame Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett played Elizabeth I in 1999 (in Shakespeare In Love and Elizabeth respectively).

15)  Cabaret is the most Oscar-laden film to otherwise miss out on Best Picture, bagging eight other statuettes in 1973 but losing out to The Godfather. In 1978 Star Wars won seven categories while Annie Hall took the top award.

16)  When her co-star Bette Davis was nominated for Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? in 1963, a snubbed Joan Crawford wrote to the other Best Actress nominees and offered to accept awards on their behalf if they couldn’t attend the ceremony. Anne Bancroft won on the night for The Miracle Worker, Crawford accepted for her, and Davis was left fuming.

17)  The 1974 ceremony was interrupted when one Robert Opal streaked across the stage. “Probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings,” quipped co-host David Niven. Five years later, Opal was murdered in his San Francisco sex shop during a robbery.

18)  Only three films have won in every category they were nominated in: Gigi in 1959 and The Last Emperor in 1988, both picking up nine awards, and The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King, which went 11 for 11. The Turning Point and The Color Purple are the biggest losers, missing out on all 11 categories they were nominated in at the 1978 and 1986 ceremonies.

19)  The longest acceptance speech in Oscar history was delivered by Greer Garson in 1943 upon winning Best Actress for Mrs Miniver. The London-born actress rambled on for five minutes and 15 seconds before bursting into tears, thus becoming the Gwyneth Paltrow of her day. She was mocked mercilessly from all quarters for months afterwards.

20)  Several married couples have both won Oscars, but only one Oscar-winning child has thus far been born to two award-winning parents. The daughter of Vincente Minnelli (who won Best Director in 1959 for Gigi) and Judy Garland (who received a miniature Juvenile Award in 1940), Liza Minnelli won Best Actress in 1973 for Cabaret.

21)  Four directors share the dubious honour of having been nominated for five Oscars without taking home a single trophy. They are Alfred Hitchcock, King Vidor, Robert Altman and Clarence Brown.

22)  The first Oscar winner to turn down their award was writer Dudley Nichols, who refused to accept his Best Screenplay Award for The Informer in 1935 because of union disputes with the Academy.

23)  Nominated but overlooked as Best Supporting Actor for Anatomy Of A Murder in 1960, George C Scott asked the Academy to take his name off the ballot in 1962 when nominated again for The Hustler. The Academy refused then, and again in 1970 when Scott won Best Actor for Patton. Scott didn’t turn up and returned the award to the Academy.

24)  Despite winning an unsurpassed four acting statuettes, Katharine Hepburn only attended the ceremony once, to present the honorary Irving J Thalberg award to producer Lawrence Weingarten in 1974. Dressed in her gardening clothes, Hepburn responded to the standing ovation with, “I'm very happy I didn't hear anyone call out ‘It's about time!’... I'm living proof that someone can wait 41 years to be unselfish.”

25)  Only one director won an Academy Award for the only film he ever helmed. Choreographer Jerome Robbins waltzed off with an Oscar in 1962 for directing West Side Story. This was also the first time that the Best Director Oscar was shared - between Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise.

Comments

    • eddzigs

      Feb 24th 2013, 11:08

      An interesting additional fact missing from number 14 is that it happened again 2002, with -- coincidentally enough -- both Kate Winslet and Judi Dench receiving nominations for playing Iris Murdoch in the film Iris.

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