Top 5 Oscar Curiosities and Records
Posted on Nov 14, 2011

5. Who’s Oscar?

One of the most recognized trophies in the world is the Academy’s gold-plated statuette, better known by its nickname, Oscar. But who’s Oscar and how did the statuette get its name?

The statuette was designed by art director Cedric Gibbons and sculpted by George Stanley, but the origins of its name are disputable. Although there are various theories, many sources credit Hollywood columnist Sidney Skolsky for using the name Oscar for the first time in a 1934 article. Skolsky explained in his memoirs: “I needed the magic name fast. But fast! I remembered the vaudeville shows I’d seen. The comedians having fun with the orchestra leader in the pit would say, “Will you have a cigar, Oscar?” The orchestra leader reached for it; the comedians backed away, making a comical remark. The audience laughed at Oscar. I started hitting the keys. “Katharine Hepburn won the Oscar for her performance as Eva Lovelace in Morning Glory, her third Hollywood film.” I felt better. I was having fun. I filed and forgot. During the next year of columns, whenever referring to the Academy Award, I used the word “Oscar.” In a few years Oscar was the accepted name. It proved to be the magic name.”

Another common story involves Margaret Herrick, AMPAS’ first librarian, who remembers calling the famous statuette Oscar because it resembled her cousin Oscar Pierce.

4. The Winners’ Agreement

What if you get nominated, win an Oscar, bring it home to your proud mother, but decide to sell it one day? Or worse…you need to sell it. How much is it worth? Well, $1 according to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The nominees who win an Oscar, have to sign a ‘winners’ agreement’ in which they commit to never sell the Academy’s Awards without first offering the Oscars back to the AMPAS for a fee of $1. This is the Academy’s way of controlling the trophies that go on sale. They want to make sure that no award arrives in the hands of private collectors. If someone refuses to sign the agreement, the Academy is entitled to keep the award. AMPAS began issuing this kind of agreements in 1951.

The case of Harold John Russell is very interesting. He is one of the two non-professional actors to ever win an Oscar. Russell sold the Academy Award to cover his wife’s medical expenses. AMPAS offered to loan him money, but Russell refused. Some controversy was sparked after he sold the Oscar for $60,500.

Experts speculate that more than 140 Academy Awards have been sold since the first ceremony

3. The Youngest Oscar Winner

The youngest actress to win a competitive Academy Award is Tatum O’Neal, who was 10 years old when she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance in “Paper Moon”. The film was adapted from “Addie Pray” (1971), a well crafted novel written by Joe David Brown. Tatum O’Neal starred as a child also in other notable movies such as “The Bad News Bears” with Walter Matthau, “International Velvet” with Anthony Hopkins, and “Little Darlings” with Kristy McNichol.

2.  Most Oscars Awarded to a Movie

Three movies share an amazing record: “Ben-Hur”, “Titanic” and “Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King” have each won 11 Academy Awards.

“Ben-Hur”, the epic 1959 movie that redefined the art and science of cinema, won 11 Oscars of the 12 categories in which it was nominated, including Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color and Best Cinematography. James Cameron’s epic romance won 11 Academy Awards out of 14 nominations and Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King” dominated the 76th Academy Awards ceremony by winning 11 Oscars  from 11 nominations.

1.  Three Generations of Oscar Winners

The first family to have three generations of Oscar winners is the Huston family with Walter, Anjelica and John. Walter Thomas Huston was the father of film director, screenwriter and actor John Huston and the grandfather of actress Anjelica Huston.

Walter Huston was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar in 1936 for his role in “Dodsworth” and five years later for “The Devil and Daniel Webster”.  The “Treasure of the Sierra Madre”, a great adventure film set in old time Mexico, gathered a total of three Academy Awards: Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Walter) and Best Director (John). Anjelica became the third generation of the Huston family to win an Oscar, for her performance in  “Prizzi’s Honor”.

The second family to have three generations of Oscar winners consists of Hollywood veteran Francis Ford Coppola, Sofia and Carmine Coppola. Movies produced through Coppola’s company have earned more than 60 Oscar nominations and 15 trophies. Carmine Coppola’s Oscar for Best Music (The Godfather II) and Sofia’s 2003 Oscar for “Lost in Translation,” made the Coppola’s a family with three generations of Oscar winners.


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