History of the Oscar Statue

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The "Oscar" statuette has become synonymous with the Academy Awards. The history of the statuette itself is inextricably intertwined with the ceremony, and is not without its share of controversy. After all, what would the Oscars be without a little drama every now and then?

The Statue

  • The statue itself stands 13 1/2 inches tall and weighs 8 1/2 pounds. The faceless figure holds a sword in his hands and stands atop a five-spoke film reel, representing the original five branches of the Academy.

Beginnings

  • The statuette was first handed out on May 16th, 1929 during the original Academy Awards. Oscars were given out in twelve categories that year, plus two special achievement awards.

The Name

  • Margaret Herrick, the Executive Secretary of the Academy, is widely attributed for coining the term "Oscar" in 1931. She claimed the statuettes looked like her Uncle Oscar.

Controversy

  • Actress Bette Davis made a competing claim for naming the Oscar. She maintained that she named it after her first husband, Oscar Nelson.

Plaster

  • Oscars are usually plated in gold, but during World War II they were made of plaster as a gesture to the Allied effort. Replacement gold statues were sent out to the winners after the defeat of the Axis in 1945.

Official Recognition

  • The use of the name "Oscar" was informal until 1939, when the Academy officially gave the statuettes that title.

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