Why are Academy Awards called Oscars?

The initial design for the art-deco influenced statuette came from a founding Academy member, the Irish art director, Cedric Gibbon In 1928 Gibbon created the initial design for the 33 cm high gold-plated statuette. 

The following year the Academy commissioned the Los Angeles sculptor, George Stanley to produce the 3D version. This depicts a knight standing on a reel of film holding a crusader's sword. There is no obvious connection with the name Oscar.

In 1930 Gibbon stepped up to collect his own award. He would go on to win 11 more for production design.  

Facts and theories

The Academy credits gossip columnist Skolsky with "the first confirmed newspaper reference" to Oscar in his column on March 16, 1934. Others have pointed out that  Skolsky wrote that "these statues are called 'Oscars'", meaning that the name was already in use. 

Uncle Oscar?

Bette Davies collects Oscar for Jezebel (1938)
One theory is that the name came from an early Academy director, Margaret Herrick, in 1931. According to this story, Herrick thought that the statue looked like her Uncle Oscar. 

Bette Davies?

Another suggestion is that Hollywood star, Bette Davies named her award after her husband. She claimed in interviews that the statuette reminded her of the Mr Davies's 'rear end'.  

Apparently his hated middle name (Oscar) was meant to be a state secret - so Bette - famed for her feuds - made sure that the world would remember.