Sunday, February 1, 2015

Countdown to the Oscars: The First Academy Awards, 1927-28

The first Academy Awards Ceremony was held on Thursday, May 16, 1929, in the Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. It honored movies released between August 1, 1927 - August 1, 1928. Tickets were $5 ($67 with inflation), 270 people attended, and the ceremony itself lasted a mere 15 minutes. It is the only Awards Ceremony that was not broadcast by radio or television (which was not in use yet of course). Dinner consisted of Filet of Sole Saute au Buerre and half-broiled chicken on toast. The host was Douglas Fairbanks, the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He handed out the awards with the help of William C. deMille. The winners had already been announced 3 months earlier so they was no anxiety or suspense in the air.


Best Picture - Unique and Artistic Production: Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, starring Janet Gaynor

Best Picture - Production: Wings, starring Clara Bow (and Gary Cooper). You can watch it tonight on TCM at 10pm EST (2/1/15).

Best Director Drama: Frank Borzage, 7th Heaven

Best Director Comedy: Lewis Milestone, Two Arabian Knights

With Douglas Fairbanks (left)

Best Actor: Emil Jannings (The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh)

Best Actress:  Janet Gaynor (Sunrise, Seventh Heaven, and Street Angel)

   Naturally, I was thrilled but being the first year, the Academy Awards had no background or tradition, and it naturally didn’t mean what it does now. Had I known then what it would come to mean in the next few years, I’m sure I’d have been overwhelmed. At the time, I think I was more thrilled over meeting Douglas Fairbanks.
~ Gaynor on receiving the first Academy Award for Best Actress in 1928
Honorary Award: Charlie Chaplin, "for versatility and genius in acting, writing, directing, and producing The Circus."

There was also an award given to Warner Brothers Production "for producing The Jazz Singer, the pioneer outstanding talking picture, which has revolutionized the industry."
The categories of Best Supporting Actor and Actress were not added until 1937. This was also the only Academy Awards that honored all silent pictures.

 Blossom Room then

Blossom Room now
See the other awards given here.

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