Sunday, May 16, 2010

Pop History Moment: The 1st Academy Awards

On this day in 1929 the 1st Academy Awards were handed out in the Blossom Room at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles; as per usual, they were given for achievement in the previous year (1927-8). The ceremony was hosted by Douglas Fairbanks and took less than 15 minutes; there were 270 guests, who paid $5 each for their tickets.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketAnd the winners were...

Best Picture - Wings (Paramount)
Best Picture (Unique and Artistic production) - Sunrise (Fox)

Best Director - Frank Borzage (drama - Seventh Heaven), Lewis Milestone (comedy - Two Arabian Knights)
Best Actor - Emil Jannings (The Way of All Flesh and The Last Command)
Best Actress - Janet Gaynor (Seventh Heaven, Street Angel, and Sunrise)

Writing (Original Story) - Ben Hecht for Underworld
Writing (Adapted Story) - Benjamin Glazer for Seventh Heaven
Writing (Titles) - Joseph Farnham* for Fair Co-Ed, Laugh, Clown, Laugh, and Telling the World

Art Direction - William Cameron Menzies, for The Dove and Tempest
Cinematography - Charles Rosher & Karl Struss, for Sunrise
Best Engineering Effects - Roy Pomeroy, for Wings

Honorary Award - The Jazz Singer
- awarded to Warner Bros. for pioneering the talking picture

Honorary Award - The Circus
- awarded to Charlie Chaplin, for acting, writing, directing and producing

In subsequent years the rules were streamlined: actors would thence win for a single portrayal rather than a body of work in a given year. Over the years some awards have been deleted, others added, a process which continues to this day, with new categories for Best Original Musical (2000) and Best Animated Feature (2001) being the most recent additions.

* On June 2nd, 1931, Joseph Farnum became the first Academy Award winner to die; he was also a founding member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and the only person to ever win an Oscar in this category.

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