Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Oscar Statue History

I was curious about where the name Oscar originated from. The awards show is technically The Academy Awards, not the Oscars as they are commonly called.
  • There is no official story or source for the nickname Oscar but the explanation that the Academy acknowledges is that in 1931 Academy librarian Margaret Herrick made the comment that the statue looked like her Uncle Oscar (he was not in fact her uncle but her cousin, Oscar Pierce).  
  • Herrick eventually became an executive director in the Academy.
  • One biography claims that Bette Davis named Oscar after husband, band leader Harmon Oscar Nelson.
  • In 1932 Walt Disney was quoted as calling his award Oscar.
  • The term Oscar was official recognized by the Academy in 1939.
  • The awards that the Academy will be handing out Sunday, are officially called the Academy Awards of Merit. There are nine types of awards that the Academy bestows.
  • For three years during World War II, Oscar statues were made of plaster. After the war the Academy offered the regular gold-plated statues to those that had received the plaster ones.
  • An Oscar statue weighs eight and a half pounds and is 13 and a half inches tall.
  • The statue remains true to its original design. The only modification is that before 1945 the size of the base of the Oscar varied. Since 1945 the base has been the same as its current base size.
  • 2809 statues have been presented to date.
  • The base is a film reel with five spokes that represent the five original branches of the Academy -- actors, writers, directors, producers and technicians.  
  • The "Oscar" man is an art deco knight holding a crusader's sword.
  • Since 1950 it has been legally required that recipients and their heirs will not sell their statues. They must first offer to sell the statues back to the Academy. If a winner refuses to agree to this stipulation, then the Academy keeps the statue. The Academy keeps the returned statues in their treasury.
  • In 1928 Mexican film director and actor Emilio "El Indio" Fernández posed nude for the statue.

If that is not everything you could possible want to know, comment and I will try my best to find the answer.
I obtained the statue facts and trivia mainly from the official Oscar website and some details from wikipedia.

Fun facts about several of this year's Best Picture nominees. The only one of these facts I knew beforehand was the one about Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

'The Artist'
Did You Know?: Some grumpy U.K. moviegoers asked for a refund because they didn't realize the film was silent
'Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close'
Did You Know?: Thomas Horn got a call to audition for his role after being spotted on TV during ''Jeopardy!'' Kids Week
'The Help'
Did You Know?: Long before the movie release, Octavia Spencer voiced Minny in the novel's 17-hour audio book
Did You Know?: Director Martin Scorsese assigned his actors film history homework before they began filming
'Midnight in Paris'
Did You Know?: Owen Wilson says he first met and spoke to director Woody Allen when he arrived in France to begin filming
Did you know?: Jonah Hill stepped into his Oscar-nominated role after comedian Demetri Martin dropped out


  1. Academy librarian Margaret Herrick never had an “uncle Oscar.” I’ve been trying to get the true story published somewhere, anywhere. The Academy refuses to acknowledge the truth and goes with the myth.

    Hollywood reporter Sidney Skolsky coined “Oscar” in 1934. It’s the first time “Oscar” has been cited in print, and Time magazine and others credited Skolsky in the 1930s.

    Skolsky said that he was thinking of the vaudeville line “Have a cigar, Oscar!” That takes us directly to the identity of Oscar—cigar manufacturer and opera impresario Oscar Hammerstein. His songwriting grandson, also named Oscar, would win two Oscars on some enchanted evenings.

  2. Since 1950, Oscar winners and their heirs have been prohibited from selling Oscar statuettes without having first offered to sell them back to the Academy for one dollar, at which point the statuette is returned to the Academy's treasury. In the absence of this stipulation, public auctions and private deals have resulted in the sale of Oscar statuettes for six-figure amounts. The Academy has won some legal battles to prohibit such sales on an individual basis, but still, some sale efforts have ended in success.

    Oscar Statue replicas