Oscars Over The Decades

Oscar-worthy moments have been made since the inception of the Academy Awards in 1929, when the first show was held as a 270-person private brunch in The Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

Whilst the venue may have changed many times since then – traveling from such hotels as the Biltmore and Ambassador; to the theatres: Grauman’s and RKO Pantages, and into larger-scale auditoriums and pavilions: Shrine Civic, Santa Monica Civic and Dorothy Chandler – this year’s 84th Academy Awards celebration will be held in the Kodak Theater at Hollywood & Highland, where the show has unfurled over the past decade.

No matter where the Oscars have been held, many of us have experienced viewing an Oscar-worthy moment from one of its statue-adorned stages, piped live via satellite since 1953 (well, if you’re not on a tape delay). In an honorary tribute to the upcoming ceremony, I’ve curated some of the more memorable, as well as the lesser-seen moments, that have been documented throughout the decades. This is a continuation of my most recent post: Vintage Inspired California.

Apart from chronology, there is no order or theme to this series. They are just moments in time. The shows have hardly skipped a beat since the late 1920s, and I hope you enjoy these photos as a prelude to tomorrow’s grandeur.

Bette Davis with husband Harmon O. Nelson during the Academy Awards, LA, 1937 ~ Photograph by Rex Hardy Jr

Oscars, lined up ~ Photograph Adam Silk

Vivien Leigh placing the Oscar she won for her role as Scarlett in "Gone With The Wind" on her mantlepiece at home, Beverly Hills, 1940 ~ Photograph Peter Stackpole

Academy Awards in 1949

Olivia de Havilland and Jimmy Stewart backstage at the Oscars, LA, 1950 - via joan-webster

Academy Awards, 1950 ~ Photograph Edward Clark

Best Sound Recording winner Thomas T. Moulton for "All about Eve" with Marilyn Monroe., LA, 1951 ~ Photograph AMPAS

Movie producer Walt Disney holding four Oscar awards he won for best feature-length documentary, short documentary, cartoon & two-reeler at Academy Awards ceremony, LA, 1954 ~ Photograph George Silk

Producer Buddy Adler's Academy Award for "From Here to Eternity" stands amid hats in the coat check room at Romanoff's restaurant in Beverly Hills during an Oscars after-party, LA, 1954 ~ Photograph Ed Clark

Humphrey Bogart with wife Lauren Bacall arriving at the 27th annual Academy Awards ceremony at the RKO Pantages Theatre, LA, 1955 ~ Photograph George Silk

Actors Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas, rehearsing with choreographer Jack Cole for Academy Awards show, LA, 1958 ~ Photograph Leonard McCombe

Joanne Woodward dances with husband actor Paul Newman at the 1st Governor's Ball held at the Bali Room of the Beverly Hilton Hotel following the Academy Awards where she won the Oscar for Best Actress for her role in "Three Faces of Eve", LA, 1958 ~ Photograph J. R. Eyerman

Director Billy Wilder in his Hollywood office wearing German helmet; Oscars in the background, Hollywood, 1960 ~ Photograph Gjon Mili

Elizabeth Taylor announced a winner, LA, 1961 ~ Photograph Ralph Crane

”It’s a tie!” exclaims Best Actress presenter Ingrid Bergman: The Lion in Winter’s Katharine Hepburn and Funny Girl’s Barbra Streisand both claim the top prize, marking the first time in Oscar history two women would share the honor. Hepburn is a no-show, and a visibly overwhelmed Babs steals the spotlight by cooing ”Hello, gorgeous!” to her first golden guy. http://www.ew.com

Basking in the win, LA, 1969 ~ Photograph Bud Gray/mptv.net

Biography files of Academy Award nominees, LA, 1972 ~ Photograph Bill Eppridge

Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep win for "Kramer vs Kramer", LA, 1980 ~ Photograph UPI Photo/Bob Flora/Files

Christopher Reeve at Academy Awards, 1983 ~ Photograph Unknown

Films and life are like clay, waiting for us to mold it. And when you trust your own insides and that becomes achievement, it’s a kind of principle that seems to me is at work with everyone. God bless that principle. God bless that potential that we all have for making anything possible if we think we deserve it. Shirley Maclaine,1983 Oscars. http://www.about.com

Shirley MacLaine and Jack Nicholson win for "Terms of Endearment", LA, 1984 ~ Photograph Rex Features

Lionel Richie kisses his Oscar after winning the award for "Say You, Say Me" from White Nights, LA, 1986 ~ Photograph UPI Photo/David Vondrak/Files

Jim Henson and his muppets, LA, 1986 ~ Photograph Unknown

Dianne Wiest holding her Oscar in Press Room at Academy Awards, LA, 1987 ~ Photograph Unknown

Paul Hogan at Academy Awards, LA, 1987 ~ Photograph David McGough

Dustin Hoffman (holding his Oscar) and Tom Cruise in Press Room at Academy Awards, 1989 ~ Photograph Unknown

Oscars, LA, 1991

Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin in Press Room at the Academy Awards, LA, 1991 ~ Photograph Unknown

Director/producer Steven Spielberg with fellow producers of their film "Schindler's List" holding their Oscars in Press Room at the Academy Awards, LA, 1994 ~ Photograph Unknown

Nicole Kidman at the Academy Awards, LA, 1994 ~ Photograph Kevin Winter

Diane Keaton & Steve Martin at Academy Awards, LA, 1995 ~ Photograph Unknown

Nicolas Cage (holding his Oscar), Mira Sorvino (also won Oscar) and Kevin Spacey (holding his Oscar) in Press Room at Academy Awards, LA, 1996 ~ Photograph Mirek Towski

Angelina Jolie holding her Oscar in Press Room at Academy Awards, LA, 2000 ~ Photograph Mirek Towski

Martin Scorsese wins Best Director for "The Departed", LA, 2006 ~ via tumblr

Kate Winslet, Sean Penn, and Penelope Cruz hold their Oscars backstage. Winslet won best actress, Penn won best actor, and Cruz won best supporting actress, LA, 2009 ~ Photograph UPI Photo/Jim Ruymen

Hugh Jackman, backstage, LA, 2009 ~ Photograph AP

Angelina and Brad, monitored in LA, 2009 ~ Photograph AP

David Rockwell, set designer of the 2010 Academy Awards


Do you know that people are now moving to New Zealand just to be thanked? Billy Crystal, 76th Academy Awards http://www.about.com

Oscar Hosts, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, LA, 2010 ~ Photograph Reuters/Gary Hershorn

Workers put the finishing touches on a sign on the red carpet outside of the Kodak Theatre as preparations are made for the 83rd annual Academy Awards, LA, 2011 ~ Photograph UPI/Kevin Dietsch

Backstage at the Oscars; Hilary Swank watches on, LA, 2011 ~ Photograph Al Seib

The stage of the Kodak Theater will be returned to its original glory as stage crew breaks down the set for the Cirque du Soleil resident show “Iris” at the Kodak Theater at Hollywood and Highland in the first weeks of February to make way for the 84th Academy Awards on Feb. 26, 2012. The heaviest and biggest stage props are first to be removed, but the entire Kodak Theater stage and offices have to be vacated to accommodate the Oscars. http://www.latimes.com

Cirque du Soleil's Iris clears Kodak Theatre for Oscars, LA, 2012 ~ Photograph Al Seib

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33 thoughts on “Oscars Over The Decades

  1. We Belgians are currently suffering from oscar fever 🙂 There is a Belgian movie in the running, so we keep our fingers crossed!

  2. What a wonderful catalogue you’ve given us here, Marina, its wonderful. Hollywood is a very celluloid place to be, but haven’t they given us some wonderful enjoyment over the years.
    Thanks Marina, for another great post.

    • I agree Val, about Hollywood! And – It’s so fun looking over some of the old photos – moments you may have seen, though forgotten since. it’s a great way to remember and revisit some of those movies too. Kramer vs Kramer – such a great film. Thank you!

  3. I can’t believe this, I have just been flicking through the TV channels here, and guess what one of the channels is showing? Gone with the wind. I’ve watched it many times, over the years, a classic if ever there was one. Vivien Leigh was a real beauty. Sentimental nostalgia, its wonderful.

    • So serendipitous! That’s such a great (and long ) movie! I remember watching it last in the Zeigfeld theatre in NY – an iconic movie in an iconic cinema. It made it all the more enjoyable!

  4. A fascinating prelude to tomorrows event and like you say, moments in time. It was the picture of Shirley MacLaine and Jack Nicholson that struck a chord with me. A time and a place. I love the picture of Paul Hogan 😉

    • I am with you – that pic of Shirley MacLaine and Jack Nicholson, as well as the one of Paul Hogan, are a couple of my favourites. Funny that those three actors, we rarely see these days! Thanks Adrian!

  5. Oh what fun Marina, a trip down memory lane right up to current day. What a great idea.
    I’m very taken with the old nostalgic ones, everything just seemed more glamorous back then, more mysterious.
    Enjoy the Oscars!

    • I agree – the black and whites are so much fun to look through and discover. Perhaps they should stick to photographing the Oscars from now on, in monochrome? 🙂 Not sure if you watch them, though if you do, enjoy the Oscars too! Thanks!

    • The Bogart/Bacall image is a winner. I came upon a quote by Bogart that you may appreciate; I’ll share it here: “The only way to find the best actor would be to let everybody play Hamlet and let the best man win.” ~ Humphrey Bogart (1951 Academy Awards) Thank you!

    • You put it so well Jenny – the allure and rich history of the stars, versus the diluted world of today’s celebrity. I’m watching the show now – champagne in hand! I hope you catch it too! Thanks 🙂

  6. Wow, what a great trip down (mostly) memory lane! So many stars and not enough space, I know but I think you have captured the essence of what the profession is really about.

    • Thanks Ray – I purposely included alot of people images to reflect the passion and the emotion of the event. They really are spontaneous shots of a heightened state. i can’t imagine what the atmosphere would be like in such a setting, around all those stars!

  7. Ahh the Oscars! 🙂 I haven’t watched them yesterday, but I did catch up a little bit this morning while watching BBC news 🙂 I am glad that Meryl Street won the Oscar, she is a great actress and so versatile 🙂 Really enjoyed the pictures, all these beautiful familiar faces 😀

    • Kristina, I watched them the whole way through and what a grand finale, to have Meryl Streep win! Billy Crystal made me laugh too 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the snapshots – how awesome would it be to photograph these moments?! Thank you!

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