In the 85 years of Academy Award ceremonies, some very odd and awkward things have occurred within its long and storied history, so I’ve pulled the ones I remembered and I’m guessing there’s a couple some of you have never seen before (mostly because they happened before you were born).
And yes, I remember seeing them all…even if I wasn’t sure just what the hell was happening at the time.
Streaker disrupts David Niven – 46th Awards (1974)
While co-host David Niven was introducing Elizabeth Taylor to present the award for Best Picture, streaker Robert Opel raced out from backstage completely starkers during the live proceedings. Never one to miss a beat, Niven makes “short” work of Mr Opel.
David Letterman introduces Uma to Oprah…a buncha times – 67th Awards (1995)
That year’s host David Letterman does his usual schtick of repeating a gag throughout a show until it becomes slightly awkward and fairly hilarious. You see Oprah laughing now but as the night progressed, she was looking like she was over it.
Tom Hanks “outs” his HS drama teacher and former classmate – 66th Awards (1994)
When Tom Hanks won the award for Best Actor for his AMAZING performance as a prominent lawyer with AIDS who sues his old law firm after being fired in Philadelphia, he gave what is seen as one of the most heartfelt and tearjerking acceptance speeches I’ve ever heard and took the time to include two men, his HS drama teacher Rawley Farnsworth and his former classmate John Gilkerson for being “two of the finest gay Americans, two wonderful men that I had the good fortune to be associated with”.
If it all sounds familiar, it became the basis for the Kevin Kline/Tom Selleck comedy In & Out, which hit the theaters three years later (and is still one of my fave films EVER).
Marlon Brando sends someone to refuse his Best Actor Oscar – 45th Awards (1973)
In what is one of the best performances of Brando’s career, it was no surprise to anyone when he won Best Actor for his portrayal of mafia patriarch Vito Corleone in 1972’s The Godfather. What WAS a surprise, however, was not only who came forward to accept the award “on his behalf” but the fact that she wasn’t there to accept it AT ALL. American Indian Rights activist Sacheen Littlefeather appeared in full Apache dress and stated Brando’s reasons for the refusal were based on his objection to the depiction of American Indians by Hollywood and television at the time.
Even weirder, Brando wasn’t the first actor to refuse his Oscar – that honor belongs to George C. Scott who the year before had refused his Best Actor Oscar for his AMAZING performance in Patton because he hated everything the Oscars stood for, calling it a “2 hour meat parade” and said the whole thing was offensive, barbarous, and innately corrupt.
Elinor Burkett “Kanyes” Roger Ross Williams – 82nd Awards (2010)
When filmmaker Roger Ross Williams took to the stage to accept the award for Best Documentary Short for Music By Prudence (about a disabled singer-songwriter in Zimbabwe) he had just started his speech that he spent FOUR DAYS writing…only to be Kanye’d by producer Elinor Burkett who RUDELY elbowed her way in mid-sentence and snarkily said “The man never lets the woman talk. Isn’t that just the classic thing?”
“What happened was the director (Williams) and I had a bad difference over the direction of the film that resulted in a lawsuit that has settled amicably out of court. But there have been all these events around the Oscars, and I wasn’t invited to any of them. And he’s not speaking to me. So we weren’t even able to discuss ahead of the time who would be the one person allowed to speak if we won. And then, as I’m sure you saw, when we won, he raced up there to accept the award. And his mother took her cane and blocked me. So I couldn’t get up there very fast.”
Turns out there was some kind of legal battle between the two when Burkett, a Zimbabwe-based journalist who came up with the film’s premise and originally listed as a producer before leaving the project (later suing Williams and settling “amicably” out of court) seemed determined to ruin his big moment, knowing full well the Academy’s rules about ONE person speaking.
And in the bitch move of ALL bitch moves…she totally did.
ANYTIME THESE TWO WERE ON STAGE – 83rd Awards (2011)
I know what the Academy was thinking when they asked mega-stars Anne Hathaway and James Franco (who was nominated that year for Best Actor for his role in 127 Hours) to host the prestigious event…HOWEVER, it turned out to be one of the most awkwardly awkward events in history.
Best part was hearing James Franco’s grandmother refer to fellow nominee Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter) as “Marky Mark”…something which no one DARES do these days.
What started out as fairly lighthearted between Franco and Hathaway progressed into awkward family dinner night and reminded me of a recurring sketch made famous by Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler on Saturday Night Live called Sally and Dan Harrison: The Couple Who Should Be Divorced (later renamed The Needlers).
With Family Guy/Cleveland Show/American Dad creator (and Best Original Song nominee for Ted) Seth MacFarlane pulling hosting duties this year, I’m pretty sure ANYTHING goes and I CAN’T WAIT.
See for yourself if MacFarlane brings on the weirdness this Sunday night at 7e/4p only on ABC.
Oscar Fun Fact: a 45-second Oscar acceptance speech time limit was imposed after the 1942 ceremony when Greer Garson gave a five and a half minute speech after her Best Actress win for Mrs. Miniver while the shortest acceptance speeches go to William Holden in 1953 (Best Actor, Stalag 13) and Alfred Hitchcock in 1968 (Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award) who both simply said “Thank you” and walked away.
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