1st Academy Awards

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1st Academy Awards
Large, ornate room, filled with people in formal dress sitting at different tables.
The first Academy Awards ceremony (pictured) was held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
DateMay 16, 1929 (1929-05-16)
SiteHollywood Roosevelt Hotel
Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Hosted byDouglas Fairbanks
Highlights
Best PictureWings[1]
Most awards7th Heaven and Sunrise (3 each)
Most nominations7th Heaven (5)

The 1st Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) and hosted by AMPAS president Douglas Fairbanks, honored the best films from 1 August 1927 to 31 July 1928 and took place on May 16, 1929, at a private dinner held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles, California. Tickets cost $5 ($79 in 2021, considering inflation); 270 people attended the event, which lasted 15 minutes. It is the only Academy Awards ceremony not broadcast on either radio or television; a radio broadcast was introduced for the 2nd Academy Awards.[2]

During the ceremony, AMPAS presented Academy Awards – later to be colloquially known as "Oscars" – in 12 categories. The winners had been announced three months ahead of the ceremony. Some nominations did not reference a specific film, such as Ralph Hammeras and Nugent Slaughter, who were nominated for Engineering Effects, a category that was dropped the following year (along with those for Unique and Artistic Production, Best Director (Comedy), and Best Title Writing).[3] Unlike later ceremonies, an actor could be awarded for multiple films: Emil Jannings won Best Actor for his work in both The Way of All Flesh and The Last Command, while Best Actress winner Janet Gaynor was honored for three films. Charlie Chaplin and Warner Brothers each received an Honorary Award.[4][5]

Major winners at the ceremony included 7th Heaven and Sunrise, with three awards apiece (the latter winning for Unique and Artistic Picture), and Wings receiving two awards, including Outstanding Picture. The following year, the Academy dropped Unique and Artistic Picture and decided retroactively that the award won by Wings was its highest honor.[3][6]

Background[edit]

In 1927, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) was established by Louis B. Mayer, the founder of the Louis B. Mayer Pictures Corporation, which then would be joined into Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). Mayer's purpose in creating the award was to unite the five branches of the film industry, actors, directors, producers, technicians, and writers.[7] Mayer commented on the creation of the awards "I found that the best way to handle [filmmakers] was to hang medals all over them ... If I got them cups and awards, they'd kill them to produce what I wanted. That's why the Academy Award was created".[8] Mayer asked Cedric Gibbons, art director of MGM, to design an Academy Award trophy.[7][9] Nominees were notified through a telegram in February 1928.[7] In August 1928, Mayer contacted the Academy Central Board of Judges to decide winners.[7] However, according to the American director King Vidor, the voting for the Academy Award for Best Picture was in the hands of the AMPAS founders: Mayer, Douglas Fairbanks, Sid Grauman, Mary Pickford, and Joseph Schenck.[10]

Ceremony[edit]

The ceremony was held on May 16, 1929,[4][5][11] at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, located in Los Angeles.[4] It consisted of a private dinner with 36 banquet tables,[12] where 270 people attended and tickets cost $5 (equivalent to $78.91 in 2021).[4] Actors and actresses arrived at the hotel in luxury vehicles, where many fans attended to encourage celebrities.[12] The ceremony was not broadcast on radio or television,[4] and was hosted by AMPAS director Fairbanks[4][5][13] during a 15-minute event.[11]

Overview[edit]

Winners were announced three months before the ceremony.[4][5][11] The recipients included: Emil Jannings, the inaugural first award recipient[4] for Best Actor (The Way of All Flesh) and (The Last Command);[5][11] Janet Gaynor for Best Actress (7th Heaven, Street Angel, and Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans); Frank Borzage for Best Director, Drama (7th Heaven); Lewis Milestone for Best Director, Comedy (Two Arabian Knights); and Wings for Best Picture (the most expensive film of its time).[3][6] Two presentations were made of a Special Award:

Honorary awards[edit]

Charlie Chaplin, a multiple nominee for one movie (Best Actor, Best Writer and Best Director, Comedy; all for The Circus) (1928) having been removed from the list so as to recognize his total contribution to the industry;[5] and Warner Bros., an award for pioneering talking pictures (The Jazz Singer). Three categories were eliminated for subsequent presentations: Best Engineering Effects, Best Title Writing, and Best Unique and Artistic Quality of Production.[3] The larger film producers received the preponderance of awards: Fox Film Corporation, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Paramount Pictures, Radio-Keith-Orpheum, and Warner Bros.[7]

Academy Awards of Merit[edit]

At the 1st Academy Awards (1927–1928), the nomination process allowed candidates to be nominated – and to be awarded – for either, a single film, multiple films, or without reference to any specific film.

Nominees were announced on February 2, 1929. Winners are listed first, in boldface, and indicated with an asterisk (*).[14]

A picture of Frank Borzage. He wears a suit.
Frank Borzage, Best Directing (Dramatic Picture) winner
A portrait of Emil Jannings. He wears a suit.
Emil Jannings, Best Actor winner
The image of a smiling Janet Gaynor. She is wearing a light-colored blouse.
Janet Gaynor, Best Actress winner
Best Unique and Artistic Picture
Best Writing (Title Writing)
Notes
  1. ^ a b c The Circus originally received three nominations: Best Director (Comedy Picture), Best Actor, and Best Writing (Original Story) – for Charles Chaplin. However, the Academy subsequently decided to remove Chaplin's name from the competitive award categories and instead to confer upon him a Special Award "for acting, writing, directing and producing The Circus".[15]
  2. ^ Gerald Duffy's nomination for Best Writing (Title Writing) was a posthumous nomination.[16]

Honorary Awards[edit]

Portrait of Charles Chaplin in the early 1900s
Charles Chaplin, Honorary Award
First National Studios, Burbank, circa 1928. It can be appreciate the first company buildings.
Warner Brothers Production, Honorary Award. First National Studios, Burbank (c. 1928) pictured

The following Honorary Awards – then called Special Awards – were conferred:

Multiple nominations and awards[edit]

Changes to Academy Awards[edit]

After the 1st Academy Awards (1927–1928), the following changes were made by the AMPAS.

  • Award categories were reduced from twelve to seven:[17]
    • The awards for Best Directing (Comedy Picture) and Best Directing (Dramatic Picture) were merged into a single Best Directing award.[17]
    • The award for Best Engineering Effects was discontinued.[18]
    • The award for Best Unique and Artistic Picture was discontinued.[18]
    • The awards for Best Writing (Adaptation) and Best Writing (Original Story) were merged into a single Best Writing award.[19]
    • The award for Best Writing (Title Writing) was discontinued.[18]

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The 1st Academy Awards Memorable Moments". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on January 4, 2021. Retrieved February 25, 2021.
  2. ^ "The 2nd Academy Awards Memorable Moments". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on January 4, 2021. Retrieved February 25, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d "The Official Academy Awards Database". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved November 11, 2019. Reader must select "1927/28" in the "Award Year(s):" drop-down menu and press "Search".
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "History of the Academy Awards". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on April 8, 2010. Retrieved May 6, 2010.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Dirks, Tim. "1927–28 Academy Awards Winners and History". Filmsite. Rainbow Media. Archived from the original on July 24, 2010. Retrieved May 6, 2010.
  6. ^ a b c "This day in History". History. A&E Television Networks. Archived from the original on March 7, 2010. Retrieved October 5, 2010.
  7. ^ a b c d e Cosgrave 2007, p. 1
  8. ^ Eyman 2005, p. 117
  9. ^ Eyman 2005, p. 209
  10. ^ Eyman 2005, p. 138
  11. ^ a b c d Pawlak, Debra Ann. "The Story of the First Academy Awards". The MediaDrome. Archived from the original on March 15, 2005.
  12. ^ a b Cosgrave 2007, p. 4
  13. ^ "People: May 27, 1929". Time. Time Inc. May 27, 1929. Archived from the original on October 27, 2010. Retrieved October 5, 2010.
  14. ^ "The 1st Academy Awards". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on February 18, 2021. Retrieved February 25, 2021.
  15. ^ Chilton, Martin (May 16, 2016). "The first Oscars: what happened in 1929". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on May 16, 2016. Retrieved February 25, 2021.
  16. ^ King, Susan (February 24, 2017). "August Wilson is in good company among posthumous Oscar nominees and winners". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on November 12, 2020. Retrieved February 25, 2021.
  17. ^ a b Ess, Ramsey (February 22, 2019). "What Happened to Oscars Dedicated to Comedy (and Should They Be Brought Back)?". Vulture.com. Archived from the original on January 25, 2021. Retrieved February 25, 2021.
  18. ^ a b c Flint, Hanna (February 20, 2019). "10 weird Oscars categories that were discontinued". Yahoo!. Archived from the original on February 26, 2021. Retrieved February 25, 2021.
  19. ^ "The 2nd Academy Awards". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on February 18, 2021. Retrieved January 2, 2021.
  20. ^ Decherney, Peter (August 14, 2012). Hollywood and the Culture Elite: How the Movies Became American. Columbia University Press. p. 69. ISBN 9780231508513 – via Google Books.

Bibliography[edit]