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15 Facts About the Oscars That Very Few People Know

For over 90 years, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has honored excellence in performances on the big screen. Over the decades, the Oscars have praised the work of both actors, directors, and composers, among other professionals. With so many years of existence, the Academy has grown and evolved, leaving several stories and details that are worth remembering.

Bright Side loves the history of films, so we want to share with you a list of 15 curious facts about the most influential awards ceremony in Hollywood: The Oscars.

1. It was aired on TV for the first time in 1953.

Although the first Oscar ceremony was held in 1929, it wasn’t until March 19, 1953, that it was first seen on television in black and white. The awards were broadcast through the NBC television network. 13 years later, in 1966, viewers were able to enjoy the transmission of the event in color.

2. In 1940, a color motion picture won the award for Best Picture for the first time.

Gone with the Wind became the first color film to win the Oscar for Best Picture in 1940. Just 2 years earlier, the film A Star Is Born was the first to be nominated in the same category. It wasn’t until 1965 that all 5 films nominated for the prize were all color films.

3. There’s only been one person named Oscar who won the Oscar so far.

Throughout the history of the Oscars, only one person named Oscar has taken the statuette home, the lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II. The composer received 5 nominations throughout his career and won on 2 occasions, in 1941 and 1945.

4. The statuette is only worth $1.

Since 1950, the Academy has stipulated that all Oscar winners sign an agreement. It specifies that neither they nor their heirs can sell their statuette without first offering it to the Academy for the price of one dollar. However, there’s a black market where they can be bought for a much higher price. Experts speculate that approximately 150 Oscars have been sold since the first ceremony in 1929.

5. Once, a person had to announce themselves as the winner.

During the third Academy Awards, in 1931, Norma Shearer was the artist in charge of announcing the winner for Best Actress. Since that year, Shearer was nominated twice in that same category, she ended up announcing her own name as winner for her role in The Divorcee. That was the last time that a nominated actor presented the winner from their own category.

6. Walt Disney holds the record for winning the highest number of awards.

The mastermind behind animated characters like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck won a total of 26 statuettes throughout his career, which made him an icon in the entertainment industry worldwide. Disney has also received 59 nominations, the majority in the category of Best Animated Short Film.

7. Only 5 women have been nominated for Best Director in history.

In almost a hundred years of the history of the awards, only 5 women have attended the ceremony as nominees for Best Director. In 1977, Italian screenwriter and film director, Lina Wertmuller was the first one to be nominated. 17 years later, Jane Campion became the second woman to receive a nomination.

In 2004, Sofía Coppola, daughter of The Godfather trilogy director, Francis Ford Coppola, held 3 nominations, including the one for Best Director. Although Sofia lost in that category, she won the award for Best Original Screenplay for the film Lost in Translation. In 2010, it was Kathryn Bigelow, who was nominated. And in 2018, Greta Gerwig became the fifth female nominee in her debut as director for the film Lady Bird.

8. A woman won the Oscar for Best Director for the first time in 2010.

Kathryn Bigelow became the first and only woman so far to have received the award for her work in The Hurt Locker, a film about the war in Iraq. Interestingly, Bigelow managed to beat her ex-husband in that category, renowned director James Cameron, who was also nominated for the movie Avatar.

9. Only 2 actors have obtained the award posthumously.

Actor Heath Ledger died in January 2008, a few months before Batman: The Dark Knight was released in July of the same year. However, his performance in the film won him the award for Best Supporting Actor in 2009. Ledger’s family, including his mother, father, and sister, attended the ceremony and accepted the award on his behalf.

Peter Finch was the first actor to win an Academy Award posthumously. He received the Oscar for Best Actor in 1977 for his work on the movie Network. Finch died of a heart attack on January 14, 1977, less than 3 months before the awards took place.

10. Ties at the Oscars: The actors that hold the highest number and same amount of awards

The most nominated actor is Jack Nicholson, with 12 nominations and 3 victories. Nicholson won the award for the first time in 1975 for his role in the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. In 1983, he received the award again, and one last time in 1997. Daniel Day-Lewis and Walter Brennan have also won 3 Oscars, but they have only been nominees on 6 and 4 occasions, respectively.

11. Meryl Streep is the actress with the most nominations in the history of the awards.

Renowned actress Meryl Streep has been a frequent Oscar candidate since 1979 when she earned her first statuette for her performance in American Sniper. Although she lost on that occasion, Streep returned to the ceremony the following year to win the award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Kramer vs. Kramer. In 1983, she took the prize for her work in the movie Sophie’s Choice. The last year she received the statuette was in 2012 for her role as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.

Throughout her career, Streep has received a total of 21 nominations, mainly in the category of Best Actress, which makes her the most nominated actress in the history of the Academy Awards.

12. Katharine Hepburn is the most award-winning actress.

Katharine Hepburn had a film career that spread over 6 decades. During that period, she obtained 12 nominations from the Academy and won 4 Oscars for Best Actress. Hepburn won for the first time in 1933, when she was only 26 years old, for her contribution to the one-day film Morning Glory. Despite being the artist who owns the record for winning the most Oscars, Hepburn never attended the ceremony to accept her statuettes.

13. Cate Blanchett won the Academy Award after playing another winner.

Cate Blanchett was the first artist to win an Oscar for playing an Oscar winner. She acted as Katharine Hepburn in the Martin Scorsese film The Aviator in 2004. To practice for the role, Blanchett watched the first of Hepburn’s films and took tennis and golf lessons. Additionally, she worked with a voice coach to imitate the high-class accent from New England that characterized Hepburn. Blanchett also imitated her athletic walk, her red hair, and her freckles.

14. The first person of color won the prize in 1940.

The first African-American to win an Oscar was Hattie McDaniel, who took the award for Best Supporting Actress in 1940 for her role in the film Gone with the Wind. However, the ceremony took place at the Ambassador Hotel, which had a severe segregation policy that banned people of color from entering.

For this reason, the producer of the film, David O. Selznick, asked for a special favor so McDaniel could enter. Although he got permission for the actress to attend the ceremony, she wasn’t allowed to sit at the same table as the rest of the cast. She ended up sitting at a small table away from the rest of the artists.

15. “Envelopegate,” the most remembered mistake in the history of the awards

One of the most recollected moments from the Oscars was the mistake known as Envelopegate. During the ceremony of 2017, the presenters of the Best Picture category, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were handed the wrong envelope, which contained the name of the award for Best Actress: Emma Stone.

When Beatty opened the envelope, he got confused and showed Dunaway the card. She went on to announce the name of the movie for which Stone had won the statuette as the winner: La La Land. The cast and producers of the film went up on stage to receive the Oscar, but during their acceptance speech, the Academy production team realized the error and, horrified, had to report that the actual winner was the movie Moonlight.

Nonetheless, this wasn’t the first time that a host had an incorrect envelope. In the Oscar ceremony from 1964, Sammy Davis Jr. was presenting the award for Best Adaptation, and read the name on the card: John Addison. However, Addison wasn’t even been nominated for that category.

Which fact surprised you the most? Do you know any other interesting facts about the Oscars? Tell us in the comments!

Preview photo credit FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/East News