The first Academy Awards in 1929 were a far cry from the suspense, glamour and endless press coverage surrounding the Oscars today: The first award recipients’ names were printed on the back page of the academy’s newsletter. A few days later, Variety published the information--on page seven.
Spearheaded by movie mogul Louis B. Mayer, the Academy was organized in May 1927 as a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement and improvement of the film industry. The first awards went to movies produced in 1927 and 1928. Though the announcements were made in February 1929, the actual awards weren’t given out until May 16, 1929, in a ceremony and banquet held in the Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Some 270 people attended the dinner, many paying $5 each for a ticket.
The first Academy Award winners also received gold statuettes but the awards weren’t nicknamed “Oscars” until 1931, when a secretary at the Academy noted the statue’s resemblance to her Uncle Oscar, and a journalist printed her remark. The Academy’s first president, the silent film actor Douglas Fairbanks, handed out the statuettes to the winners, who included Janet Gaynor for Best Actress (for three different films: Seventh Heaven, Street Angel and Sunrise) and the German-born Emil Jannings (The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh) for Best Actor. Frank Borzage and Lewis Milestone both won Best Director awards, for Seventh Heaven and Two Arabian Knights, respectively. Best Picture honors went to "Wings," the World War I drama directed by William Wellman. Special recognition was given to actor/ director Charlie Chaplin and the movie "The Jazz Singer" which was excluded for being a 'talkie.'
Who is the on the Academy? Could you be a member? What movies do you think were the best?
Which movie won 'Best Picture' this year? How many of these 'Best Pictures' have you seen? Have these movies stood the test of time?