And that’s how Oscars began….
It’s that time of the year again when glamour pours out on the red carpet at the Oscar Awards and the best of the best is honoured for enthralling the audiences in the past year with engaging, entertaining and thought-provoking films.
The most sought after awards of Hollywood are also touted as the biggest, where the Academy honours works of people involved in movie making. Held each year since 1929, the Academy Awards ceremony is also considered the most prestigious.
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences was formed in 1927. The brainwave came to the then head of MGM Louis B Mayer, who wanted to set up an organization which dealt with labour disputes and improve the industry’s image. One fine Sunday morning, Mayer shared his idea with other studio bosses and voila, the Academy was set up.
At the initial meeting, the idea of an annual banquet was mentioned but no one had suggested the concept of awards. It was established that membership into the organization would only be open to people involved in one of the five branches of the industry: actors, directors, writers, technicians, and producers.
It was only after the Academy appointed its first President that the idea of honouring excellence in cinema came about. Academy’s first President, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. initiated the activity of bestowing “awards of merit for distinctive achievement”. In 1928, the ball started rolling by establishing a voting system. Nominee and selection process also began in the same year.
The first Academy awards were presented on May 16, 1929. The ceremony took place at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood. Interestingly, the first few award presentations were open to public. Anyone who was interested to watch the ceremony could buy tickets for as less as $5! As public interest and crowds grew, the ceremony was moved to larger theaters, where the ever-growing crowds could be accommodated. While awards programmes are now watched by millions on television, the first awards were broadcast live through radio.
Fifteen statuettes were awarded, honoring artists, directors and other personalities of the filmmaking industry of the time for their works during the 1927–1928. Actor Emil Jannings was the first recipient of the coveted Best Actor trophy. Initially the winners were announced before the actual awards ceremony took place. The practice of announcing the winner at the ceremony was only adopted in 1941.
Over the years, the pattern of the ceremony has changed. New concepts have been adopted to suit the taste of the audiences. But the excitement on Academy Awards has been the same since the beginning. The glamour, the joy, the fans, all remain intact.
Collated by: Shomini Sen