While some of us don’t pay as much attention to the Oscars as we did in the past, almost everybody still likes to hear that a film they loved or an actor they liked is up for an Academy Award. Next week marks the Academy’s 85th anniversary and, needless to say, there have been some interesting occurrences throughout the years. Below are ten of what I believe to be some of the more interesting factoids:
10. Posthumous Oscars
Only two actors have ever won an Oscar posthumously: Heath Ledger in 2009, and Peter Finch in 1976. Finch died on January 14th of a heart attack, and his Best Actor Oscar for the film Network was accepted by his wife, Eletha. Heath Ledger died on January 22nd, 2008, from complications of mixing prescription drugs. His Best Supporting Actor Oscar, for his portrayal of The Joker in The Dark Knight, was accepted by his parents and sister. Both men, coincidentally, were Australian.
9. Walt Disney
Walt Disney is credited with winning the most Oscars in history, but he has more records than that. As well as most wins, Disney also holds the records for the most nominations of any person, as well as most losses. In total, he won 22 competitive Oscars and 3 honorary ones, out of a total of 59 nominations. He was nominated for at least one Oscar every year between 1942 and 1963.
8. Biggest Losers
While Walt Disney holds the record for most losses, one could potentially make the argument that winning 25 Oscars is nothing to be embarrassed about. There are, of course, people who have been nominated multiple times and walked away with nothing after all. Deborah Kerr, Thelma Ritter and Glenn Close have all been nominated for acting awards six times, and never won. Peter O’ Toole has been nominated eight times and never won. Composer John Williams (Star Wars, Harry Potter) has won five, but lost 35. Art director Ronald Anderson (Breakfast at Tiffany’s) and composer Alex North (Spartacus) both have 15 competitive losses, although North received an honorary Oscar. This year marks nine-time loser Roger Deakins’ tenth chance at an Oscar for his work on Skyfall and, considering he also worked on The Shawshank Redemption, currently the most popular film on IMDb, maybe he deserves one by now.
7. John Cazale Has Good Taste
Most people won’t know who John Cazale is, and with good reason: he’s only been in five films. But all of them have been nominated for Best Picture. Cazale only acted in The Godfather Parts 1 & 2, Dog Day Afternoon, The Conversation and The Deer Hunter; the first three actually won Best Picture (and The Conversation only lost because it went up against…The Godfather Part 2.) Not many people can say that every film they’ve been involved with are considered Best Film-worthy.6. 2 Actors, 2 Oscars, 1 Character
Not only did The Godfather Parts 1 & 2 both take home an Oscar for Best Film, the character of Vito Corleone also procured two Best Actor awards for those playing him. This is the only example of two actors playing the same character, and both winning Best Actor for the role, with Marlon Brando taking it home for Part 1, and Robert De Niro for Part 2. De Niro is also one of only five actors to win the award while acting primarily through a foreign language.
Due to metal shortages, any Oscars awarded for a period of three years, during World War II, were made of painted plaster instead of gold. The winners, however, could exchange them for the official statuette after the War ended. But those are far from the oddest Oscars that have been awarded. In 1937, Edgar Bergen was awarded an honorary Oscar for “Charlie McCarthy,” his ventriloquist’s dummy. It was made of wood, and had a movable mouth. Even odder, however, was one of the aforementioned honorary Oscars awarded to Walt Disney. The Oscar he received for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was a normal-looking Oscar, only it had seven tiny Oscars at the base as well.
4. Cedric Gibbons
Cedric Gibbons worked as an art director on over 1,000 films, winning 11 Oscars out of 39 nominations. While that is impressive, Walt Disney won twice as many as Gibbons, and lost almost as many as Gibbons was nominated for, so why is he above Disney on the list? Well, while he may have only won eleven, all 2,809 Oscars that have been awarded throughout the years can be accredited to him. Not only has Gibbons had his art recognized for his work on such films as The Wizard of Oz and Little Women, he is also the designer of the Oscar statuette itself.
3. Eleven Oscar Wins
Three films have walked away with 11 Oscars under their belts: Ben Hur, Titanic and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Each of those has a small story behind their success as well: Lord of the Rings was the only one to take home every award for which it was nominated, Titanic draws with All About Eve for most nominations (14,) and Ben Hur was the first ever remake of a film to win the award for Best Picture, and remained the only film to do so until The Departed won 47 years later.
2. Weird Speeches
Recent years have seen the popularity of the Oscars decline, as many people feel the ceremony goes on for too long. Because of this, a 45-second limit has been imposed on acceptance speeches. The longest speech ever given was almost seven minutes long, by Greer Garson (she never won again, so at least she made the most of her time.) In contrast, Alfred Hitchcock and William Holden simply said “thank you.” Gweneth Paltrow’s speech must have been 23 times as sincere, because that’s how many times she thanked somebody in her speech.
1. The Oscars Are Trash
The Oscars are quite unpopular with many people, seen by many as just another exclusive club, filled with people congratulating themselves. But at least one person seems to think they’re a lot trashier than that. In 2000, 55 Oscar statuettes were stolen near Los Angeles. A few months later, 52 of them were found in a trash can by Willie Fulgear, who was rewarded with $50,000 and tickets to the 2001 Awards ceremony.
On a similar note, since 1950, Oscar winners have to agree that, if they decide to sell their award, they must first offer it back to the Academy for the costly sum of one whole dollar. Steven Spielberg once bought the 1938 Best Actress Oscar for $578,000 before giving it back to the Academy, because that’s definitely a charity worth the money.