10 interesting facts about the Oscars

Courtesy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

No matter your opinion on it, the Academy Awards are one of the most coveted prizes in film making. And since the ceremony is almost upon us, I decided to do a little reading on the history of the Oscars.

I found some interesting stuff. In fact, I got a list.

1. A German Shepherd almost won the first Oscar

Yes, you read that right. Rin Tin Tin, a dog rescued from a World War I battlefield, almost won the title of Best Actor in 1928 for his role in four movies released in 1927. (He starred in a total of 27.) He won in the first voting round. However, the Academy decided that giving a dog the first prize would send out the wrong message and held a second round of voting — this time, however, only human contestants were allowed.

2. A Nazi sympathiser won the first Oscar

After Rin Tin Tin was disqualified, the prize was won by Emil Jannings, a German actor in Hollywood who returned home soon after he won. However, his career didn’t end there. He went on to make several propaganda films for the Nazis, right up to the end of the war. He reputedly kept his Oscar with him when he travelled to the frontline, just in case he had to prove his association with America. It didn’t work. Once the Allies won the war, he was subjected to denazification, and his career was over for good.

3. Walt Disney won 26 Oscars

For the record, that was the most Oscars won by any one person. He won 22 competitive Oscars and 4 honorary Oscars, for a total of 26. He also set the record for the most nominations and wins in one ceremony, having been nominated for six Oscars and winning four.

4. Two films had 11 nominations but didn’t win anything

It sounds miserable, but it’s true. The Color Purple and The Turning Point both received 11 nominations, but neither won anything. On a side, both movies were also nominated for several Golden Globes, with The Turning Point winning two of them and The Color Purple winning one.

5. A film with six Golden Raspberry nominations won an Oscar

For those who don’t know, the Golden Raspberries are a spoof of the Oscars, with similar categories, except for one thing: all the awards go to the worst movie/actor/actress. Pearl Harbor, a Michael Bay film, was nominated for four Oscars, and won one for Best Sound Editing. However, it was nominated for six Golden Raspberries, including the unwanted Worst Picture.

6. Three films won 11 Oscars

Ben-Hur, Titanic, and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King all won 11 Oscars. In addition to that, Titanic had received 14 nominations. Meanwhile, The Lord of the Rings won in every of the 11 categories it was nominated for.

7. Not all the Oscars were made of gold

To be clear, none of them is made completely of gold. They’re made of some other metal and plated with gold. Anyway, for three years during World War II, the gold statuettes were actually plaster — they were used because there was a metal shortage during the war. Following the war, however, the winners could trade their plaster copies in for gold ones.

8. The Academy really likes to keep the winners a secret

It’s so secretive that even during the ceremony, the nameplates are blank. It’s only after the ceremony that the winners get to have their names engraved on their awards. Before 2010, they would have to return it to the Academy and wait a couple of weeks for it to be done. Now, they just have to attend the Governors Ball right after the ceremony, where there is an inscription-processing station to engrave their names on their prize.

9. The Academy disapproves of people selling Oscars

There are lots of people in this world dying to get their hands on an Oscar, it seems. I mean, the Oscar Orson Welles won in 1941 for Citizen Kane was auctioned for $861,542 in 2011. That’s quite a sum of money. However, since 1950, the Academy has managed to prevent that. Because since that time, the statuettes came with a caveat: neither the winners nor their heirs could sell the statue unless they first offered it to the Academy for US$1.

10. Oscar was actually a person

That is, actually named after a person. There are conflicting stories on how the Oscars were named. However, the most prevalent story is that Margaret Herrick, the Academy’s Executive Secretary, said that the statuette reminded her of her “Uncle Oscar”. A journalist who happened to be there wrote that down, and the nickname came out in a newspaper. It stuck.

And that’s all I found (or at least found interesting).

What other interesting things do you know about the Oscars? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

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