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Film Industry Awards

Academy Award Oscar StatueAcademy Awards - Annual award presented by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that honors the best in the film industry (via the medium of television). The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was founded on January 11, 1927 by such Hollywood dignitaries as Louis B. Mayer, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks (who became its first president).

The organization's mission was to "encourage the improvement and advancement of the arts and sciences of the profession by the interchange of constructive ideas and by awards of merit for distinctive achievement."

The Academy Awards first coast-to-coast telecast was aired via the NBC network on March 19, 1953. Its host was Bob Hope who first emceed the proceedings in 1940 when all the Oscars were given for Gone With the Wind (1939).

The focus of the Academy's glitter and glamour is a 13.5 inch, 8.5 pound, gold-plated statuette (made from Britannium) dubbed the "Oscar®."

A variety of stories exist about how the Oscar statuette got its name. Betty Davis said it looked like her husband, Oscar without his clothes on. And Margaret Herrick, the Academy's first librarian, and long time employee, reportedly took one look at the statuette and declared it was her Uncle Oscar Pierce. No matter who claimed what, the Oscar still is the most prestigious award ceremony seen on television today.

Cedric Gibbons, then head of the MGM studio's art department and one of the Academy's original founders designed the Oscar. He sketched the prototype on a tablecloth in 1927. Sculptor George Stanley then transformed the sketch into the coveted statuette (a naked man holding a crusader's sword and standing on a reel of film).

The Oscar is made by R. S. Owens and Company, a trophy manufacturer located in Chicago. Its 300 employees produce over 95 percent of the most prestigious awards in the country, including television's Emmy, the advertising industry Clio's, the Super Bowl trophy and the Miss America Awards.

The public accounting firm of Price Waterhouse and Company tabulates the annual Oscar ballots from the voting members and places the winner's names in a sealed envelope.

The phrase "the envelope please" was first heard in 1941 when the Academy established the practice of sealing the envelopes. This was done because the Los Angeles Times printed an advanced announcement of the Academy's results for movie Gone With The Wind (1939). Infuriated, the Academy took strict measures to keep the winners secret until the last moment.

The voting membership of the Academy (some 4000 members) includes: actors, art directors, cinematographers, directors, executives, film editors, musical composers, producers, writers, and personnel involved with sound, short films, public relations and some members at large.

Each division votes for its own (actors vote for Best Actor, directors for Best Directors, etc.) However, everybody votes for the Best Picture.

Some choice Oscar moments include Marlon Brando's refusal in 1973 to accept his award for his role in the "Godfather" but rather giving his time on stage to an American Indian woman Sacheen Littlefeather who dressed in traditional costume of buckskin, native jewelry and two long ponytails read an indictment of the American society for its cruel treatment of Native Americans; and another as shocking moment when actor David Niven's pointed remark of "The only laugh that man will probably ever get is for showing off his shortcomings" aimed at a man who streaked naked across the stage in the middle of the Oscar ceremony.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science is located in a seven-story office building at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, California 90211.


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