Test Your Oscars Knowledge

American Icons
on January 20, 2011
Courtesy of Margaret Herrick Library The first Academy Awards ceremony was a formal dinner in 1929.

Here’s some additional Oscars trivia to get you ready for the big event on Sunday, Feb. 27!

In The Beginning
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a Hollywood-based trade organization established in 1927 to promote the art of filmmaking, held its first awards ceremony in 1929. Wings, a silent movie about World War I fighter pilots, became the first motion picture to receive the Academy’s top honor, the Best Picture award—and the only soundless movie to ever do so.

The Oscar
The distinctive golden statuette depicts an Art Deco-style knight holding a sword and standing atop a reel of film. It wasn’t initially called an Oscar, and how it got that name is contested. One of the most enduring stories has an employee at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences seeing an early version of the trophy and saying the hairless knight looked “just like my Uncle Oscar!” Another claims the name came from actress Bette Davis, who reportedly dubbed it in honor of an ex-husband. Whatever the case, the name stuck as shorthand for the award and the ceremony itself, and the Academy has been using it officially since 1939.

Hosts with the Mosts
Although typically hosted by a single person, the Oscars have also had co-hosts, no hosts and group hosts. Bob Hope has hosted 19 times, more than anyone else. In 1958, Hope, Jack Lemmon, David Niven, Rosalind Russell, James Stewart and the cartoon character Donald Duck shared the podium. In 1994, Whoopi Goldberg became the first woman to host solo. In 1938, 1941 and 1947, the presentation was host-less.

Three For Five
Only three movies have swept the five major categories of Best Picture, Directing, Actor, Actress and Writing: It Happened One Night (1934), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) and Silence of the Lambs (1991).

And the Oscar Goes to¬ÖOscar!
Only one “Oscar” has won an Oscar, and he did it twice. Composer Oscar Hammerstein II received the Best Original Song award in 1941 (for “The Last Time I Saw Paris” from Lady Be Good) and again in 1946 (for “It Might As Well Be Spring” from State Fair).

Thanks, But No Thanks
George C. Scott refused to accept his Best Actor award for Patton in 1970, saying that the Oscars had turned the acting profession into “a two-hour meat parade.”

Country Queens
Two performers have won Best Actress for portraying country music singers: Sissy Spacek, who played Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980), and Reese Witherspoon, as June Carter Cash in Walk the Line (2005).

Wrap It Up
Last year, the Academy decreed that winners’ acceptance comments would be capped at 45 seconds—at which point the stage microphone would be cut off and the orchestra would begin playing. Greer Garson’s speech, after winning the Best Actress award in 1943 for Mrs. Miniver, holds the record for longest, at seven minutes. The shortest: Alfred Hitchcock, who picked up his 1967 Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, a special honorary Oscar, and exited after a simple “Thank you.”

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