Happy Birthday Oscar: Highlights from the last 90 years

Since 1929, the glamorous event has captured the imaginations of film fans around the world

Reuters March 02, 2018


The Oscars, the highest honours in the movie business, celebrate their 90th anniversary this Sunday.

Since 1929, the glamorous event has captured the imaginations of film fans around the world. The 90th Academy Awards, given out by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, will be held in Hollywood.

Here are some highlights from over the last 90 years.

1929 - The first Oscars ceremony is held on May 16, 1929, at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood and hosted by actor Douglas Fairbanks Sr. It is the only time a film from the silent era won best picture, with the award going to World War One romance Wings.


1939 - The academy officially begins using the nickname 'Oscar' for its awards. Though unconfirmed, the popular tale behind the origin of the name holds that academy librarian Margaret Herrick said the statuette looked like her Uncle Oscar.

1940 - Hattie McDaniel becomes the first black performer to win an Oscar for acting, picking up the Supporting Actress prize for Gone with the Wind. She is required to sit at a segregated table at the ceremony. It would be 51 years before another black woman would receive an acting Oscar, when Whoopi Goldberg won for Ghost.

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1953 - The Oscars are televised for the first time. Host Bob Hope marks the occasion by saying, “Isn’t it exciting to know that a lot of these glamorous stars are going to be in your homes tonight? All over America housewives are turning to their husbands and saying:‘Put on your shirt, Joan Crawford is coming.’”


1963 - Sidney Poitier becomes the first black man to win an Oscar for acting, for Lilies of the Field.

1968 - The Oscars awards ceremony is postponed for two days due to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr on April 4.

1969 - The Oscars produce their only tie ever in the Best Actress category. Katharine Hepburn wins for The Lion in Winter and Barbra Streisand won for Funny Girl. Hepburn does not attend the ceremony.


1973 - Marlon Brando wins a Best Actor award for his performance as Vito Corleone in The Godfather but boycotts the ceremony to protest how Native Americans are portrayed in movies and television. Sacheen Littlefeather, an Indian activist, appears onstage in traditional Apache dress in Brando’s place but declines the statuette.

2002 - Halle Berry becomes the first, and still the only black woman, to receive a Best Actress Oscar, dedicating her award to“every nameless, faceless woman of colour that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened.”


2003 -The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King pulls off the largest awards sweep in Oscar history, winning in every category for which it was nominated. It is the third film ever to win 11 awards, tying with Titanic in 1997 and Ben-Hur in 1959.

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Also in 2003, Roman Polanski wins the Best Director Oscar for his Holocaust film The Pianist but cannot travel to Los Angeles for the ceremony because he is wanted in the United States to serve time for the rape of a minor in 1977. The audience responds with a standing ovation.

2009 - Kathryn Bigelow becomes the first woman to win a best director Oscar, for The Hurt Locker.


2013 - Jennifer Lawrence trips and falls on her way to accept the Best Actress award for her role in Silver Linings Playbook. She receives a standing ovation, prompting her to joke that “you’re all only standing because I fell and that was embarrassing.”

2016 - For the second year in a row, all 20 Oscar acting nominees are white, prompting criticism and the social media hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. In response, the academy announces plans to increase the number of women and minority members.


2017 -Moonlight becomes the first film with an all-black cast to win Best Picture but in a backstage envelope mixup victory is first handed to musical La La Land.

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