The Oscar has been the major symbol of motion picture excellence for over 90 years. Originally called "The Academy Award Of Merit," the famous little golden guy was first handed out at a small 15 minute banquet in 1929. Nearly a century later, it has become a major event for the entire world to watch on television.
- The Oscar statuette, designed by MGM's chief art director Cedric Gibbons, depicts a knight holding a crusader's sword, standing on a reel of film with five spokes, signifying the original branches of the Academy: Actors, Writers, Directors, Producers, and Technicians.
- Oscar's height: 13 1/2 inches
- Oscar's weight: 8 1/2 pounds
- How many people it takes to make a statuette: 12
- How long it takes to make a statuette: 20 hours
- Number of Oscars manufactured each year: 50-60
- Materials: Solid bronze, plated in 24-karat gold.
(From 1943—1945; due to a wartime metal shortage, Oscars were made of painted plaster. Recipients of the plaster awards were later able to redeem them for metal replacements.)
At least three Oscar winners have refused their Oscars:
- Dudley Nichols refused the Oscar he won for writing The Informer
- Marlon Brando accepted his first Oscar, for On the Waterfront, but rejected his second, for The Godfather.
- George C. Scott warned the Academy in advance he would not accept an Oscar for Patton if he should win; they voted for him anyway, and he stayed true to his word.
Woody Allen was never on hand to pick up his awards (Best Original Screenplay and Best Director for Annie Hall; Best Original Screenplay for Hannah and Her Sisters; Best Original Screenplay for Midnight in Paris), but he never publicly refused them. Rumor has it he never picked them up either.
- Number of eligible categories in 1927: 13
- Number of eligible categories in 2020: 23
- Total Oscar Statuettes Awarded (through 2019): 3,180
Approximately 50 Oscars are made each year in Chicago by the manufacturer, Polich Tallix. If they don't meet strict quality control standards, the statuettes are immediately cut in half and melted down.
Since 1949, each Oscar has been individually numbered, starting with number 501.
According to legend, secretary Margret Herrick remarked that the statue looked like her Uncle Oscar, giving the statue it's nickname. The Academy began officially using the nickname in 1934.
The Academy agressively protects the image of it's award; all nominees are made to sign a form agreeing that, should they win, they are not to sell or auction their statuette without first offering to sell it back to the Academy, for $1. Despite this, several Oscars have ended up in auctions over the years. Over the last two decades, director Stephen Spielberg has twice purchased Oscars at auctions and donated them back to the Academy (first Clark Gable's Oscar, then later Bette Davis's).
The Oscar (or the Academy Award of Merit, as it is officially known) is perhaps the most coveted prize in showbusiness. But once you win one, where should you put it? The following are where some of the biggest names in Hollywood have reportedly kept their Oscars over the years:
- Alan Ball kept his Oscar dressed in a shocking pink fur Barbie coat.
- Gwyneth Paltrow keeps her Oscar in storage, according to the Scottish Daily Record. "I don’t want that thing in my house," the newspaper quotes Paltrow as saying. "It scares me."
- Angelina Jolie initially gave her Oscar to her mom, but after her mother's death, Jolie says she has no idea where it is.
- Whoopi Goldberg mailed her Oscar to the Academy for a routine cleaning, but the statuette was stolen during return transit. It eventually turned up in a trash can at LAX airport.
- Martin Landau keeps his Oscar in his Los Angeles office surrounded by pictures of Landau with the Reagans and the Clintons.
- Elizabeth Taylor, Emma Thompson and Susan Sarandon each keep their Oscar in the bathroom.
- Cuba Gooding Jr. keeps his Oscar on top of a wine cabinet.
- Jack Nicholson uses one of his Oscars as a hat stand.
- Goldie Hawn's Oscar lived on a bench in her meditation room because "trophy rooms are the opposite of me."
- Russell Crowe keeps his Oscar in a chicken coop on his Australian ranch and says it's increased the size of his hens' eggs.
- At one point, Daniel Day Lewis said his Oscar for My Left Foot was at "a friend's apartment because I don't have a place of my own at the moment."
- As a teenager, Anna Paquin kepts her Oscar in her bedroom closet so her friends wouldn't see it and feel the need to comment on it.
- Ben Affleck keeps his Oscar on a bookshelf in his one-bedroom apartment.
- Richard Taylor is understandably reluctant to reveal where he keeps his Oscar statues these days. He doesn't want to encourage a burglary, he says. "Let's just say they are accessible."
- Olympia Dukakis's Oscar for Best Supporting Actress was stolen from her home in 1989.
- Like Dukakis, Vivian Leigh's Oscar was stolen in a break-in and was never recovered.
- Marcia Gay Harden hasn't found a place for her Oscar yet.
- Isaac Hayes displayed his Oscar at his restaurant in Memphis. He gave his Grandmother the Oscar immediately after the ceremony, when she was 80; she returned it to him at her 100th birthday and died at age 105 in 1997.
- Jeff Bridges says he misplaced his Oscar somewhere in his home.
- Olivia de Havilland keeps her two Oscars at her Paris home on a bookshelf. She says she suspects it was a French customs official who broke her Oscar for The Heiress when she moved to Paris in the late 50s. She's never had it fixed.
- The late Spencer Tracy reluctantly agreed to lend his Oscar for Boys Town to the orphanage that bore its name.
- Vivien Leigh was supposed to be a presenter at the Oscars one year, but she had a nervous breakdown and was taken to the hospital. While there, theives broke into her home and stole her Oscar as well as some other valuables.
- Ernest Borgnine's Oscar was destroyed in a house fire. The Academy replaced it.
- Marlon Brando wrote in his autobiography that he's lost track of his Oscar for On The Waterfront, writing "somewhere in the passafe of time it disappeared."
- Shelley Winters's Oscar for The Diary Of Anne Frank resided, for a number of years, at the shrine to Anne Frank in Amsterdam.
- Harold Russell, winner of two Academy Awards (one honorary), auctioned one off in 1991 to pay for his wife's surgery.
- During World War II Oscars were made out of plaster to save on metal for the war effort. Barry Fitzgerald, whose Oscar was received during that time, accidentally bumped his statuette with a golf club, knocking the head off. The Academy supplied a metal replacement.
- Supposedly, Woody Allen has never picked up any of his Oscars and they remain waiting for him. This legend is brought into question however by a statement he made at the 74th Academy Awards when he said he was afraid, when he got a call from the Academy, that they wanted their Oscars back.
- Frank Capra's 1943 Best Documentary Feature Oscar was stolen in 1970 from its display at the Army Pictorial Center in Queens, NY. It has never been recovered.
- Jimmy Stewert's Oscar for The Philadelphia Story spent many years on display at his father's hardware store in Indiana.
- Richard Dreyfus told the Hollywood Reporter that he keeps his 1978 Oscar in his refrigerator.
- Jennifer Lawrence immediately gave her Best Actress Oscar to her mother. She assumes its still at her family home in Kentucky, but "If not, it’s gone I don’t have it."