WTF Fun Fact 13279 – The First Oscars

The first Oscars ceremony was held on May 16, 1929, at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. It lasted only 15 minutes, and there were only 270 guests in attendance. Tickets for the event cost $5 each, and the Academy had notified the winners three months prior to the ceremony.

The history of the Academy Awards

The Academy Awards Ceremony, also known as the Oscars, is an annual event that honors the best in the film industry. Today, it’s a grand gala that draws millions of viewers from around the world, but the first Academy Awards Ceremony was far less grand.

The idea for the Academy Awards was first proposed in 1927 by Louis B. Mayer, the head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). Mayer wanted to create an awards ceremony that would generate positive publicity for Hollywood. He approached several prominent figures in the industry, including Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and Cecil B. DeMille, to help him organize the event.

The first Academy Awards ceremony was held on May 16, 1929, at a private dinner party in the Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Only 270 people were present, and the ceremony lasted only 15 minutes.

However, despite its modest beginnings, the first Oscars marked the birth of one of Hollywood’s great extravaganzas.

The first Oscars ceremony

The first Academy Awards ceremony honored outstanding achievements in filmmaking during the 1927-1928 season. The newly-formed Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences chose the winners.

The winners were announced in a matter-of-fact way without the fanfare and spectacle of today’s ceremonies.

In fact, the winners had been notified ahead of time – 3 months earlier. However, the Academy asked them to keep the information a secret until the night of the event to add some suspense.

The ceremony was not broadcast on television or radio. There were 12 categories of awards at the first ceremony, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Original Story.

The winners of the first Oscars included:

  • Emil Jannings for Best Actor
  • Janet Gaynor for Best Actress
  • “Wings” for Best Picture

“Wings” was a silent film about World War I fighter pilots. Audiences and critics praised the film’s impressive aerial battle scenes for their realism. As a result, the film was a commercial and critical success. It even helped to establish Hollywood as the center of the film industry.

From the red carpet arrivals to the emotional acceptance speeches, the Oscars have become an integral part of popular culture. With each passing year, the ceremony becomes more innovative. To this day, the Academy adds new technology and creative ideas to make the event more entertaining.

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Source: “The First Oscar Ceremony Lasted 15 Minutes. What Happened?” — The New York Times


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