The First Oscars: Took 15 minutes
Close to 300 movie bigwigs gathered at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on May 16, 1929, for the first Academy Awards ceremony. Because the winners had already been announced three months earlier, there was no suspense, and the statuettes were doled out in a fifteen-minute ceremony. The big winners: Wings, a blockbuster World War I flick produced by Paramount Pictures, took home Best Movie. Janet Gaynor won the first Best Actress award for her work in three different films (Sunrise, Seventh Heaven, and Street Angel), and Emil Jannings (who became the Academy’s first no-show) won Best Actor for starring in The Way of All Flesh and The Last Command. Jannings had recently left Hollywood and returned to Europe, perhaps realizing that his thick German-Swiss accent would not be well received in the new talkies. He later made Nazi propaganda films.
So who was “Oscar”? No one knows for sure. According to legend, the award got its nickname in 1931 when a secretary at the Academy saw the statuette and exclaimed, “Why, he reminds me of my Uncle Oscar!” A reporter overheard the remark and used it in a story, and the name stuck.
Speaking of award shows, we bet you didn’t know these 8 things about the Academy Awards.
The First Golden Globes: Started with 8 journalists
In 1944, when eight journalists calling themselves the Hollywood Foreign Correspondents Association decided to host an award ceremony of their own, the Golden Globes were born. A luncheon was held at Twentieth Century Fox’s studio, which had produced The Song of Bernadette—the first Golden Globe winner for Best Picture. Jennifer Jones won Best Actress for portraying Bernadette, and Paul Lukas was named Best Actor for Watch on the Rhine. No statues, only commemorative scrolls, were handed out that day. These surprising films actually won Oscars.