The Academy Awards is the granddaddy of all awards shows -- the oldest of its kind, dating way back to 1929. As we get set for the 85th annual ceremony, here are 10 unusual facts about Hollywood's most prestigious awards show.
1. A classic TV witch was the first female host of the ceremony. Yes, long before she starred as witchy troublemaker Endora on the 1960s sitcom "Bewitched," Agnes Moorehead was a busy movie actress, appearing in more than 70 films and garnering four Oscar nominations. In 1948, she and Dick Powell hosted the Oscars, making her the first female co-host of the ceremony.
2. Speaking of Oscar hosts, there have been some doozies. In 2011, the odd pairing of James Franco and Anne Hathaway was slammed by some critics, but the strangest Oscar co-host of all time has to be Donald Duck. In 1958, the animated icon teamed up with Bob Hope, Jack Lemmon, David Niven, Rosalind Russell, and James Stewart to co-host the 30th Academy Awards.
3. In the early 1970s, both George C. Scott and Marlon Brando "refused" their Oscar Awards. Scott didn't want any part of the "two-hour meat parade" and Brando had so many criticisms of the entertainment industry's mistreatment of Native Americans that he sent a 26-year-old Indian activist, Sacheen Littlefeather, to the 1973 ceremony to refuse the Oscar for him.
4. One of the most notorious Oscar moments came at the 46th Academy Awards in 1974, when David Nivens' Best Picture intro was interrupted by a streaker. As the audience erupted with laughter as the naked man sprinted across the stage, Nivens came up with this quick ad-lib: "Isn't it fascinating to think that probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings?" (You can see the famous moment here). Five years later the streaker, Robert Opel, was murdered during an attempted robbery.
5. Cher's 1988 Best Actress Oscar win wasn't a total shocker (although she beat out some stiff competition, including Meryl Streep and Glenn Close), but the "Moonstruck" actress's outfit for the stuffy awards show certainly was. Designer Bob Mackie outdid himself -- or should we say underdid?
6. Oscar attire ranges from the beautiful (think Berry) to the bizarre (think Bjork). But the most unusual Oscar dress of all time goes to 1995 Best Costume Design nominee Lizzy Gardiner. According to Yahoo! Movies, Gardiner's gown was made up of nearly 300 American Express credit cards embossed with her name on them. Check it out here.
7. There have been a couple of specially made Oscar statuettes. According to Parade, ventriloquist Edgar Bergen's 1938 honorary Oscar was made of wood, in a nod to his puppet Charlie McCarthy. And Walt Disney's 1939 honorary Oscar for "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" included one full-size statuette and seven mini ones.
8. "Midnight Cowboy" is the only X-rated film to ever win the Oscar for Best Picture. In 1969, the Motion Picture Association of America gave the Jon Voight/Dustin Hoffman movie the ominous mature-audience rating, but the movie was re-rated R in 1971.
9. Alfred Hitchcock delivered the shortest Oscar speech on record. Upon receiving the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award at the 40th Academy Awards in 1968, the legendary filmmaker simply said, "Thank you." (He added "very much indeed" as he walked away.) You can see Hitchcock's quickie speech here.
10. 2013 marks a name tweak. According to The Wrap, the phrase "Academy Awards" is being quietly phased out -- at least for this year -- and there won't be a big brouhaha about the number 85, either. Instead, this year's ceremony is simply called "The Oscars" and all posters and press releases reflect that. Of course, most of us have been calling it the Oscars all along.
The 2013 Oscars ceremony will air live from Hollywood on Sunday, 2/24 at 7 PM ET on ABC.
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