Posts tagged Oscars

Several ties have occurred in Academy Awards voting:

22nd (1949): Documentary (Short Subject)
A Chance to Live
So Much for So Little

41st (1968): Best Actress
Katharine Hepburn, The Lion in Winter
Barbra Streisand, Funny Girl

59th (1986): Documentary (Feature)
Artie Shaw: Time Is All You’ve Got
Down and Out in America

67th (1994: Short Film (Live Action)
Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life

85th (2012): Sound Editing
Zero Dark Thirty

But in 1932, two gentlemen shared the Oscar for Best Actor even though one of them had more votes than the other.

At the 5th Academy Awards, Fredric March, who starred in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Wallace Beery, who starred in The Champ, “tied” even though March had one more vote than Beery.

They both received Oscars that night because the rules at the time stated that if an achievement came within three votes of the winner, then both would receive the award. That rule was soon altered, and subsequent ties were exact ties. 

Top photo: Wallace Beery, presenter Lionel Barrymore, host Conrad Nagel and Fredric March at the 5th Academy Awards banquet.

Middle photo: Lionel Barrymore, Conrad Nagel, and Wallace Beery.

Bottom photo: Oscar winners Frank Borzage (Directing, Bad Girl, 1931), Helen Hayes (Actress, The Sin of Madelon Claudet, 1931), and Fredric March.

The Start of the Academy

As the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences officially welcomes more than 250 new members into its fold this week, we look back at the earliest days of our organization.

On January 11, 1927, thirty-six of Hollywood’s most prominent figures, including Louis B. Mayer, Mary Pickford, Sid Grauman, Jesse Lasky, Cecil B. DeMille, Douglas Fairbanks, Cedric Gibbons and Irving Thalberg, met to discuss the establishment of an honorary membership organization that would represent the motion picture community. As the industry leaders described in “The Reasons Why,” an early informational pamphlet, they wanted to create an organization that would “do for the motion picture profession in all its branches what other great national and international constructive bodies have done for other arts and sciences and industries.” 

The founding members of the Academy invited 300 industry notables to a banquet at the Biltmore Hotel on May 11, 1927, to celebrate and garner support for the fledgling organization, which by then was officially recognized by the State of California. That evening, 230 of the distinguished guests, representing the original five branches of the Academy­—Actors, Directors, Producers, Writers and Technicians—became members.

By the early 1930s, membership in the Academy had grown to more than 700 industry professionals, and the invitation-only group had begun to attract attention outside of California as a result of its annual awards ceremony. Among those thrilled to join the organization was actress Jean Harlow, who sent the following letter to the Board of Governors.

Materials documenting the history of the Academy and the Academy Awards can be viewed in Margaret Herrick Library Digital Collections.

Ronald and Nancy Reagan: The then-California Governor and his wife at the Oscars in 1967 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.
Ronald and Nancy Reagan: The then-California Governor and his wife at the Oscars in 1967 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.

Jerry Lewis and Audrey Hepburn closing out the Oscars in 1956 in a very special way.


Next month, the Academy is celebrating The Black Movie Soundtrack at the Hollywood Bowl on September 3rd at 8pm with special guest performances and screen clips honoring the multidimensional influence of music and movies. To celebrate this event, we have highlights of some select recordings from the Margaret Herrick Library’s Brad Bennett collection of soundtracks and the Music and Recorded Sound collection, featuring songs that defined a film and the music that transformed films into classics. In a nod to movie music nostalgia, here’s a curated vinyl jukebox of the Academy’s holdings dedicated to the black movie soundtrack.

Sometimes sound surpasses the visual, turning films into a powerful experience. Consider the revered anthem of Shaft, the emotional shading of the The Color Purple’s score, and the musical gem of 20th Century Fox’s Stormy Weather, whose use of dance and music brought a new vitality to the art form. 


Strong, dynamic vocals were the centerpiece of 1995’s Waiting to Exhale. Soundtrack producer Babyface assembled artists such as Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Whitney Houston, and Chaka Khan — the film and its music came to embody female empowerment. 


Music producers often have the vision to tie disparate songs into a cohesive theme, elevating a film’s soundtrack to cult status. Producer Quincy Jones’ soundtrack to the musical feature The Wiz enhanced the original Broadway score with imaginative compositions and the accompaniment of New York jazz musicians. Here’s the cover of a highlights album performed by the group Studio 79.


Singer, songwriter, and producer Isaac Hayes will forever be inextricably linked to the soulful soundtrack for Shaft, and was awarded with an Oscar for Best Original Song for the “Theme From Shaft” at the 1971 (44th) Academy Awards. 


Curtis Mayfield’s classically soulful Super Fly masterfully complements its energetic storytelling with irrepressible melodies. 


And not to be forgotten, “The Godfather of Soul,” James Brown crafted his meticulous vocal and instrumental soundtrack around the plotline for the 1973 crime drama Black Caesar.  


In 1985, Prince won an Oscar for Best Original Song Score for Purple Rain at the 1984 (57th) Academy Awards. The soundtrack produced by Prince and the Revolution was simultaneously eclectic, stylish, and enigmatic; the music did not escape its R&B roots, and its appeal crossed over to pop, rock, and heavy metal genres, achieving both critical and commercial success.

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Jack Black and Will Ferrell sing about the one song no one wants to hear at the Oscars.

Happy 100th birthday, Beverly Hills

In honor of the centennial celebration of Beverly Hills, we’re taking the opportunity to talk about our favorite Academy building, the City of Beverly Hills Water Treatment Plant No. 1.  This spectacular Spanish Romanesque building standing at the corner of La Cienega and Olympic is home to the Academy’s Margaret Herrick Library

Constructed in 1927 as a way to ensure the fledgling municipality’s independence from the city of Los Angeles, the building’s primary function was to house the equipment that filtered the water for the citizens of Beverly Hills.  Over time, as the city became more firmly established and fears of annexation abated, Beverly Hills began buying water from Los Angeles.

The building sat empty from the mid-1970s until 1989 when the Academy stepped in to save it from demolition with an imaginative adaptive reuse plan.

The beautiful wrought iron doors at the entrance are among the building’s signature features.  

Equally captivating are the bell tower and the ornate windows above the entrance. The tower is one of a handful in the United States that was created to resemble The Giralda, the bell tower that sits atop the cathedral in Seville, Spain.  The windows, one small and one grand, resemble film reels, a happy coincidence for an organization devoted to the art and science of motion pictures.

With the building’s renovation, the water tanks and processing equipment gave way to bookshelves, climate controlled vaults and office space for a staff of more than 70 individuals dedicated to preserving the world’s foremost film historical collection. 

For the next two months we are helping Beverly Hills celebrate its Centennial with an exhibition exploring the city’s relationship to the motion picture industry. 

Come visit us and see photographs of early Beverly Hills and its famous residents at work and play, celebrity home movies and more.  We hope you’ll join us as we say thanks to the city for being a great home.  We love the waterworks and we’re looking forward to the next century.

Lupita Nyong’o - Actress in a Supporting Role - Oscars 2014


In 2006, the Academy commissioned Spike Lee to direct a series of short television commercials to promote the 79th Annual Academy Awards, which took place on February 25, 2007. In August of 2006 in New York City, Lee filmed 123 individuals delivering iconic lines from Academy Award-winning and nominated films.

Six commercials were released and aired on ABC and its affiliates.

The Academy Film Archive holds the master elements to the commercials, including dailies and behind-the-scenes footage of the 2006 shoot which can be seen here:

The Academy’s series “By Any Means Necessary: A Spike Lee Joints Retrospective” kicks off on June 26 with a screening of 25th Hour  and the opening of the exhibit “WAKE UP! David C. Lee Photographs the Films of Spike Lee” at the Linwood Dunn Theater. The exhibit showcases photographs by David C. Lee taken on the sets of his brother’s films over the years. The Spike Lee retrospective continues with screenings celebrating the 25th anniversary of Do the Right Thing on June 27 in Los Angeles at the Bing Theater and June 29 in New York, with more films running through July at the Bing Theater and the Linwood Dunn Theater.