11 Things You Didn’t Know About The Oscars

Film, oscars, actress, Lupita Nyongo, 12 years a slave
Photos courtesy of A.M.P.A.S.

Samantha Ofole Prince

Covering television and film criticism, music journalism and celebrity news coverage, Samantha is often attending and covering backstage and red-carpet events including the Academy Awards, BET Awards, Grammy Awards, SAG Awards, Golden Globes, and Teen Choice Awards, as well as concerts, book signings, industry parties and movie premieres.

1. The first Oscar ceremony was held May 16, 1929 at the Blossom Room in Hollywood’s Roosevelt Hotel (see below). 
Roosevelt, Hotel, Oscars, Ceremony, LA
It had just 270 attendees and guest tickets cost just $5. It wasn’t until March 19, 1953 at the 25th Academy Awards the event was televised and in 1969, the Oscars were broadcast internationally. Now the ceremony is televised in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide. Last year’s telecast drew an average 34.4 million U.S. audiences.

2. Meryl Streep has the most acting Oscar nominations, man or woman, ever. Her recent nod for “Florence Foster Jenkins” marks her 20th nomination. Katharine Hepburn and Jack Nicholson follow a close second with 12 acting nominations each, while Bette Davis and Laurence Olivier round off the top list of actors with the most nominations with 10 a piece. 

3. Denzel Washington remains the black actor who has been nominated for the most Oscars. His Best Actor nod for the screen adaptation for August Wilson’s play “Fences” marks his 8th Oscar nomination. He has both a Best Actor Oscar for “Training Day” and a Supporting Actor Oscar for “Glory,” which he received at age 35. With 5 Oscar nominations, Morgan Freeman follows in second place.

4. Actress Hattie McDaniel was the first black actor/actress to win an Oscar (see below).  
gone with the wind, film, oscars, hattie mcdanielShe won a Best Supporting actress award for her role as Mammy in “Gone with the Wind” in 1940 at the 12th Academy Awards and Sidney Poitier is the first black actor to win an Oscar for “Lilies of the Field” in 1964 at the 36th Academy Awards.

5. Dustin Hoffman’s “Midnight Cowboy” is the only x-rated film to win a best picture. This happened in 1969 and the film was subsequently edited and given an R rating in 1971.

6. Screenwriter Dudley Nichols became the first person to ever refuse an Oscar in 1935 for his screenplay of “The Informer”. There have been other actors who refused their Oscar including George C. Scott who declined his Best Actor Academy Award for “Patton” in 1971 and in 1973, Marlon Brando refused his Best Actor Award for his role in “The Godfather” to protest Hollywood’s portrayal of Native American Indians on film.

7. John Singleton is the youngest director to garner a Best Directing Oscar nomination. He was also the very first African-American in cinema history ever to be nominated for the award. Singleton was 24 when he received a nomination for his directorial debut “Boyz in the Hood” in 1992.

8. The Oscar statuette is the most recognized award in the world. A trophy, which symbolizes film achievement, it stands at 13½ inches tall, weighs 81/2 pounds. To date, the number of Oscar statuettes presented since the first Oscars is 3,048.

9. Halle Berry is the only black actress to win the Best Actress trophy.
Halle Berry, Denzel Washington, Oscars, filmShe received an Oscar in 2001 at the 74th Academy Awards for her role in Marc Forster’s “Monster’s Ball”. Whoopi Goldberg, Mo’Nique, Octavia Spencer, Jennifer Hudson and Lupita Nyong’o have all won supporting actress Oscars.

10. In fact, It’s more likely for an African-American to win an Oscar in the song and score field than the acting category. Isaac Hayes, Irene Cara, Steve Wonder, Prince, Lionel Richie, Herbie Hancock, Three 6 Mafia, Common and John Legend are all Oscar winners in song and score field.

11. There have been only three circumstances that prevented the Academy Awards presentation from taking place. The first was in 1938, when destructive floods all but washed out Los Angeles and delayed the ceremony one week. In 1968, the Awards ceremony was postponed from April 8 to April 10 out of respect for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who had been assassinated a few days earlier. In 1981, the Awards were postponed for 24 hours because of the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.

Awards in 24 categories will be handed out at the 89th Oscars, which will be held on Sunday, February 26, at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, and broadcast live on the ABC Television Network at 7 p.m. Comedian Jimmy Kimmel serves as host.

Oscars, Host, Comedian, Jimmy Kimmel

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