Oscar Night & Picks 2003
- Thursday, March 20, 2003
Oscar night has traditionally been America's party night for years.
The first Oscar ceremony took place during a banquet held in the Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel with about 250 people attending and tickets costing about $10 each. Today, the night is an elaborate affair with hundreds of charities hosting parties across the country and the crème de la crème entertaining the stars and celebrities.
When the first Academy Awards were handed out on May 16, 1929, "talking" movies had just begun to be popular and unlike today's ceremony, suspense was in short supply back then and the winners were known prior to the banquet. In 1940, results were given in advance to the newspapers for publication. To create an element of surprise on the night of the Awards, the sealed-envelope system was adopted the next year and remains in use today.
The first 15 Award shows were banquet affairs. After 1942, increased attendance and World War II made these elaborate banquets impractical so the 16th Awards ceremony was held at Grauman's Chinese Theater. In March 1949, the 21st Awards were held in the Academy's own Melrose Theater, and for the next 11 years the Awards were held at the RKO Pantages Theater in Hollywood. On March 19, 1953, the Oscars were first televised and became a color broadcast in 1966.
On April 14, 1969, the 41st Academy Awards ceremonies moved to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and remained at the Music Center until 1987, when they returned to the Shrine Auditorium. But with audiences growing in attendance and an increase in public interest and press making this an international affair, Hollywood's elaborate and permanent home for the 74th Academy Awards ceremony was unveiled in 2001 and the new state-of-the-art 3,300-seat Kodak Theatre became Oscar's permanent home.
Weighing 8.5 pounds and standing 13.5 inches tall, the golden Oscar has been called "the Academy statuette", "the golden trophy", and "the statue of merit".
The knight, holding a crusader's sword, stands on a reel of film with five spokes that signify the original branches of the Academy (Actors, Writers, Directors, Producers and Technicians). It was designed by MGM's chief art director Cedric Gibbons, while Gibbons' assistant, Frederic Hope, created the original Belgian black marble base and artist George Stanley sculpted the design.
A popular but unsubstantiated story has been that the moniker "Oscar" caught on after an Academy librarian and eventual executive director Margaret Herrick said that the statuette resembled her Uncle Oscar. Its first documented mention came after the sixth Awards Presentation in 1934 when Hollywood columnist Sidney Skolsky used it in reference to Katharine Hepburn's first Best Actress win. The Academy itself didn't use the nickname officially until 1939.
There has been much speculation in the press as to whether the Academy Awards ceremony will take place due to the war. The scheduled Awards ceremony has been interrupted three times. The first was in 1938 when floods all but washed out Los Angeles and delayed the ceremonies one week. The Awards ceremony was postponed two days in 1968 out of respect for Dr. Martin Luther King, whose funeral was held on April 8, the day set for the Awards. And the Awards were postponed for 24 hours in 1981 due to the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.
Since the early days, the Academy Awards have grown slowly and steadily in both the size of its audience and the fields of achievement covered. Attendance at the Annual Academy Awards is by coveted invitation only ? no tickets are put on sale to the public.
I have attended Oscar night in the past but spent most of my time rotating from room to room, interviewing the people who win the golden statue. It is a LOT of work and although you see many celebrities and stars, it is exhausting! I've also attended several Oscar parties and was able to stargaze with the best of them. But believe it or not, my favorite place to watch the awards ceremony is in the privacy, comfort and quiet of my living room where I can hear and see all that goes on from my comfortable sofa.
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