Tuesday, 24 January 2012

What is an Oscar? Where does the word come from?



Winners of Hollywood's Academy Awards receive a gold-plated statuette on a black metal base.  It is 13.5 in (34 cm) tall, weighs 8.5 lb (3.85 kg) and depicts a knight rendered in Art Deco style holding a crusader's sword standing on a reel of film with five spokes. The five spokes each represent the original branches of the Academy: Actors, Writers, Directors, Producers, and Technicians.

The popular name for an Academy Award is an Oscar. But there is no definitive explanation as to why.

The name was first publicly used was in an article by Hollywood columnist about Katharine Hepburn's first Best Actress victory at the fifth annual ceremony in 1934. By 1939 the word was universally known - but there remains confusion regarding its origin.

One theory is that the name came from an early Academy director, Margaret Herrick, in 1931. According to this legend, Herrick thought that the statue looked like her Uncle Oscar. Another is that Bette Davies named it after her husband - but that was in 1936.

A good example of how a nickname can survive long after its source is forgotten.

1 comment:

  1. Academy librarian Margaret Herrick never had an “uncle Oscar.” I’ve been trying to get the true story published somewhere, anywhere. The Academy refuses to acknowledge the truth and goes with the myth.

    Hollywood reporter Sidney Skolsky coined “Oscar” in 1934. It’s the first time “Oscar” has been cited in print, and Time magazine and others credited Skolsky in the 1930s.

    Skolsky said that he was thinking of the vaudeville line “Have a cigar, Oscar!” That takes us directly to the identity of Oscar—cigar manufacturer and opera impresario Oscar Hammerstein. His songwriting grandson, also named Oscar, would win two Oscars on some enchanted evenings.

    http://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/oscar_academy_award/

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