We suspect that you like us haven’t fully recovered from the “best picture” snafu Sunday night at the Oscars. Lessons to be learned — never fully trust your accountant, and Warren Beatty has NOT had a good time of things lately.
Then Joe got to wondering if anything comparable in the fiasco department occurred in the classic Hollywood days much loved by this blog. Here’s what he found:
This year’s Oscar mishap wasn’t the first and certainly won’t be the last. Two time-honored stories come to mind, both occurring in the 1930s when the Academy Awards were given at an annual banquet, a relatively intimate affair contrasting mightily with today’s tv Goliath seen by millions worldwide.
Back in 1932, at the ceremony following dinner at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, the winners were announced, and Frederic March (pictured above with wife Florence Eldridge) won Best Actor for his role in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Helen Hayes won for The Sin of Madelon Claudet and Louis B. Mayer accepted the Best Picture of the Year Award for MGM’s Grand Hotel.
But then, a surprise!
Supposedly the votes were recounted and Wallace Beery in The Champ, had lost by only one vote. The rules at the time stipulated that the winner had to win by at least three votes. Conrad Nagel, the m.c., then called Beery to the podium and announced the tie.
Two years later at the 1934 banquet, another faux pas, but not by the Academy.
This might be called pilot error. Host Will Rogers was announcing the Oscar for Best Director.
Rogers opened the envelope and said, Well, well, well, what do you know. I’ve watched this young man for a long time. Saw him come up from the bottom, and I mean the bottom. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Come up and get it Frank.”
Frank Capra jumped from his seat.
He’d been nominated for his low budget charmer Lady for a Day. But as he ran down to the platform he realized it was Frank Lloyd, director of Cavalcade, who was embracing Rogers. Capra would win, but not that year.
This story was the talk of Hollywood for decades, and a similar scene was written into the 1966 film The Oscar, with Stephen Boyd, which, incidentally, won Oscar nominations for costume and production designs.