With the Oscars literally upon us, we look back at some of the stranger facts, figures and farces of previous Academy Awards. For instance. Who is the only Oscar winner to have outed someone in his speech? Who made the longest ever acceptance speech (hint: it’s not Gwyneth Paltrow)? Learn all that and more in our arbitrarily selected list of oddments from the 88-year history of the Biggest Night in Showbiz™.
It’s interesting to note that, in the early days, Oscar results were made available to newspapers ahead of the ceremony so that they would make the next day’s edition. This was rapidly dropped in 1941 after nominees started visiting the pressroom before the event to find out whether they’d won.
Titanic is the joint holder of the most-nominated record, with “All About Eve” (1950) – both received 14 nominations. “The Turning Point” (1977) and “The Color Purple” (1985) were both nominated 11 times but failed to win a single one – the biggest losers in Oscar history.
Only two pairs of performers have ever been nominated for playing the same character in the same film, and weirdly, Kate Winslet is one-half of both. She played Rose DeWitt Bukater in “Titanic,” while Gloria Stuart played Old Rose; she was also nominated as a young Iris Murdoch in “Iris,” with Judi Dench playing her older self.
“Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” (1965) is the longest ever name on a Best Picture nomination. “Z” (1970) is the shortest. It is unlikely to be beaten.
The Oscars’ only streaking incident took place in 1974, when one Robert Opal ran naked onto the stage (and was mocked by the host, David Niven, for “revealing his shortcomings”).
The longest ever Oscar acceptance speech was not by Gwyneth Paltrow, but Greer Garson, winner of Best Actress in 1943 for “Mrs. Miniver.” Her rambling thanks clocked in at a remarkable five minutes and 15 seconds, whereupon she burst into tears. This year, winners’ speeches are limited to just 45 seconds.
Liza Minnelli is the only child of two Oscar winners (Judy Garland, Juvenile Award for “The Wizard of Oz” (1940) and Vincente Minnelli, Best Director for “Gigi” (1959) to have won an Oscar herself, garnering Best Actress for “Cabaret” (1973).
Tom Hanks is the only Oscar-winner to have outed someone in his acceptance speech, when he described his former drama teacher as “one of the finest gay Americans” while collecting his Best Actor award for “Philadelphia” in 1994. The event inspired the 1997 Kevin Kline comedy “In & Out” about a teacher inaccurately outed in the same way.
Finally, Jack Palance’s acceptance for Best Supporting Actor in “City Slickers” (1992) was not so much a speech as a workout. The 73-year-old dropped to the floor and started doing one-armed push-ups.
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