This Sunday, February 28, 2016, the 88th Academy Awards ceremony will take place. You probably already knew that. Unless you have shunned technology and refused to glance at magazines displayed on every grocery check-out stand, you’ve been aware of the coming event for several weeks. From the nominations, to the fashion predictions, to tips on throwing your own Academy Awards party (Yes, me too! Check out my FB page for recipes or Pinterest “Hooray for Homicide” board), you just can’t seem to avoid at least a peripheral knowledge of Hollywood’s big night. This was not the original intent of the Academy and it’s hard to say what the stars of those early years would have thought of Sunday’s elaborate show.
The first Academy Awards ceremony took place in the form of a banquet at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on May 16, 1929. Best Picture was awarded to silent film, Wings, with Janet Gaynor as Best Actress and Emil Jannings as Best Actor. Only two hundred seventy people were in attendance, with the winners having been announced by Academy president, Douglas Fairbanks, three months earlier.
The following year, the results were kept secret until the ceremony. The Academy did, in advance, provide a list of winners to the newspapers for publication in their 11 o’clock additions. However, in 1940, the Los Angeles Times published early. This breach resulted in the sealed envelope system we are familiar with today. The Oscar’s, as they would affectionately become known, was first televised in 1953, broadcast in color in 1966.
The Academy statuette, officially named the Academy Award of Merit, was designed in 1928 by MGM’s art director, Cedric Gibbons, depicting a knight, standing on a reel of film, holding a sword. The reel features five spokes, each representing the five original branches of the Academy: actors, directors, producers, technicians and writers. The statuette is affectionately known as, “Oscar,” though the origin of the name is unclear. Legend holds that an Academy librarian, Margaret Herrick, remarked, “It looks like my Uncle Oscar.” Though the Academy did not adopt the name officially until 1939, the nick-name can be found in print as early as 1934.
In spite of its humble origins and intent, the Academy Awards is now televised in over 200 countries and draws an estimated audience of nearly 40 million viewers.
Whether you live for the annual event or avoid it like last weeks sushi, my “Hooray for Homicide” murder mystery is an enjoyable parody of Hollywood and its infinite levels of intrigue.
Regardless of how you plan to spend your Sunday night, may your evening be golden and your fans legion,