The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Awards

By | Feb 19, 2011

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences were established in 1927. It was decided that they would create a ceremony to publicize and reward fourteen individuals and movies that were the best artistic examples of film making. The first award ceremony was in 1929 for the period August 1, 1927 to July 31, 1928.

The first acting awards, there were only two one for best actor and another for best actress, were awarded based on total work during the nominating period. Emil Jannings won for his performances in The Way of all Flesh and The Last Command. Janet Gaynor, who was only 23 at the time, won for her roles in Seventh Heaven, Street Angel, and Sunrise.

The first figurines that were handed out were known officially as the Academy Award of Merit and differed little in appearance from today’s Oscars. The original trophy was made of gold-plated bronze and was designed by Cedric Gibbons. Gibbons would win eleven Oscars for art direction. During World War II the presented awards were made of gold-painted plaster. These were exchanged for the metal statuette after the war ended.

Variety magazine initially referred to the Award of Merit as the “Iron Man,”. By 1934 the media was calling it the “Oscar.” and in 1939 The Academy officially recognized the nickname.

Only one award in the first awards ceremony was given for a film that was not silent. The Jazz Singer, the first Talking Picture, received a special award.

The Academy Board of Judges unanimously decided to award Charlie Chaplin a special award for acting, writing, directing, and producing The Circus and remove his name from the competitive classes. In a letter from the Academy to Mr. Chaplin, dated February 19, 1929 they wrote ‘The collective accomplishments thus displayed place you in a class by yourself.’


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