With the Academy Awards (aka the Oscars) just around the corner, we’ve been deep diving into award season, and we’ve come across all kinds of interesting little facts along the way. From the most nominated actors to the longest and shortest speeches, here’s a collection of fun facts that you can impress people with at your Oscar party this year, or if it ever comes up at pub trivia.
— Katharine Hepburn holds the record for most Best Actress Oscars, for the films On Golden Pond (1981), The Lion In Winter (1968), Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner (1967) and Morning Glory (1933).
— Meryl Streep, holds the record for most Oscar nominations across the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories, with 21 nominations, including three wins.
— Jack Nicholson is the most nominated male actor, with 12 nominations, including three wins.
— Leonardo DiCaprio has the same number of Oscars as: Eminem, Shrek and Three 6 Mafia.
— Sidney Poitier was the first African American to win Best Actor, for his role in Lilies of the Field (1963).
— Heath Ledger and Peter Finch are the only actors to receive and Oscar posthumously, for The Dark Knight (2008) and Network (1976) respectively.
— Maggie Smith is the only person who’s won an Oscar for playing a failed Oscar nominee, in California Suite (1978).
— Meanwhile, Cate Blanchett was the first person to win an Oscar for playing an Oscar winner, for playing Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator (2004).
— Italy has been rewarded with the most Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film, having won the award 10 times.
— The most Oscars any film has received is 11, with three titles currently tied for as the most awarded: Ben-Hur (1959), Titanic (1997) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
— Kevin O’Connell has been nominated a whopping 21 times for his work in Sound Mixing. Until 2017, he held the title of “most nominations without a win”, but he finally got his Oscar in 2017 for his work on Hacksaw Ridge.
— Midnight Cowboy (1969) is the only X-rated movie to win an Oscar, taking out the ceremony’s Best Picture award.
— Oscar Hammerstein II is the only Oscar to ever win an Oscar, winning two for Best Original Song.
— No sci-fi film has ever won a Best Picture. Not Star Wars (1977), E.T (1982) or even Avatar (2009), which was the highest grossing film of all time when it lost the award.
— Grand Hotel (1932) is the only film that’s ever won Best Picture without a single nomination in any other category.
— The only actors who have ever won Oscars for playing the same character — both Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro played Vito Corleone in The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather Part II (1974) respectively.
— Gone With the Wind (1939) was the first movie filmed in colour to win Best Picture.
— The first woman to ever be nominated for Best Director was Italian filmmaker Lina Wertmuller in 1977, for Seven Beauties. However, it wouldn’t be until 2010 that a woman would win the award, when Kathryn Bigelow won for The Hurt Locker.
Ceremony and General Trivia
— You never really own your Oscar — all the winners sign an agreement that states that if they wish to sell their statue, they first have to offer it back to the Academy for the price of one dollar. However, this rule was introduced in 1950, which means that once in a blue moon, an old Oscar hits the market. Steven Spielberg paid $578k for Bette Davis’ Oscar in 2001 (and donated it back to the Academy), and Michael Jackson paid over $1 million for David Selznick’s Oscar in 1999.
— The Kodak Theatre, where the Oscars are held, seats 3,332 people. In order to keep all of those seats filled while the ceremony is being televised, seat fillers are paid $125 USD an hour to keep attendee’s seats warm while they nip out to the bathroom (or the bar).
— William Holden and Alfred Hitchcock gave the shortest speeches in Oscar history, uttering a quick “thank you” before leaving the stage.
— On the other hand, the longest acceptance speech was given by Greer Garson, clocking in at nearly six minutes during the 15th Academy Awards.
— In fact, the acceptance speeches got so out of control that in 2002, the ceremony ran for a whopping FOUR HOURS AND 23 MINUTES. After that, the Academy brought in the 45-second acceptance speech rule, which is why people now get played off by the orchestra for going over.
— In 2000, two men stole packing crates that held 55 of the awards to be handed out that year. While they found 52 of them in the trash (rude!), three remained missing, one of which was discovered by the FBI during a drug investigation.
— The Oscars have been postponed only three times: in 1938, it was postponed for a week due to rain and flooding. When the ceremony took place, almost no one could attend. Even George Jessel, who was scheduled to host, was sick and couldn’t make it. The second time they were postponed was 1968, when they were pushed back by two days for Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral, and then in 1981, they were postponed by a day after an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.
— In 1989, the Academy quietly swapped out the phrase “and the winner is” for “and the Oscar goes to”.
— World War Two saw the 1943 Oscar winners take home trophies filled with plaster rather than metal, but they were all replaced with regular metal-filled Oscars in 1946.
— The Oscars were first aired on television in 1953.