The legendary Oscar trophy (awarded to the Academy award winners) is Hollywood’s most recognizable leading man. Here’s a bit on its history.
Significance of the Award
Till date, thousands of Oscar awards have been given out, but there are many more industry folk who wish they had one. Even the Titanic star Leonardo Dicaprio failed to win it for so many years, but finally managed to win one.
To an extent, its difficult to explain allure of this legendary trophy; maybe artists don’t perceive it as just a trophy in the first place.
Indians felt really proud when Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi won so many Oscar awards.
Indian films Lagaan, Salaam Bombay and Mother India had made it to the final five, in their respective years. However, the closest that came to winning the Oscar was ‘Mother India’.
- 1929 – First Academy Awards
- 1939 – Year Oscar became statue’s official name
Here’s what celebrities and historians have to say about the trophy.
“For the lucky winners, it is the physical manifestation of the blood and sweat and hope and guts it takes to rise to the top of an industry. It is the most recognizable prize in the world—the very symbol of the Academy [of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences] brand,” says Hollywood historian Laurie Jacobson.
“Its brand power comes from concentric circles. Most would say Hollywood cinema is the center of the entertainment world. Well, Oscar is the center of the cinema world. The celebrities we obsess over … obsess over Oscar,” said says Chris Raih, founder and CEO of Zambezi, an L.A.-based communications firm rooted in the entertainment industry.
Why’s he called Oscar?
Several theories float, but the most credible story holds that Academy librarian Margaret Herrick nicknamed the statue after her uncle Oscar, and it stuck. But Bette Davis also claimed to have named the statue, whose bare backside, she said, reminded her of her hsband getting out of the shower.
Although the trophy has looked more or less the same since it was first handed out in 1929 (a sword-bearing knight designed by MGM art director Cedric Gibbons), Oscar’s look has changed over the decades. His features have softened while his body went from bronze to plaster (during the WWII metals shortage) to, finally, a tin-based alloy called britannium.
The process is so painstaking that, despite technological advancements, the New York foundry is able to make only 50 statues in three weeks. And what the cost? Well, only the celebs get to know about it we guess, not for the ordinary people to know that.
Many see the move to provide a face-lift to the trophy as a significant investment in the award’s heritage. At a time when viewership of awards shows continues to slip, it seems to be a good move to invest in.
After all, such is the aura of the award that it long ago overpowered the name of the event itself.