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Past Oscar Controversies History

Controversy and the Oscars seem to go hand in hand almost every year. Maybe it’s inevitable that such a high profile event as the Academy Awards will attract some controversy.

Let’s take a look back through the history of the Academy Awards, and some of the controversial moments which, amazingly enough, have become memorable moments of Oscar past.

Throughout Oscar history, presenters and even Oscar winners have chosen to use the occasion of the Academy Awards to make some political comments, such as Richard Gere making comments about China’s human rights violations one year, or Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon imploring the United States government to allow a group of HIV positive Haitians to enter the country. But some have stood out as major controversies.

In 1977, when Vanessa Redgrave won her Supporting Actress Oscar for Julia, she used her speech to comment about a bunch of “Zionist hoodlums,” raising scattered boos and applause from the audience.

A short time later, on that same telecast, Paddy Chayefsky came out to present the writing awards, and delivered a speech of his own, saying that he was sick and tired of people exploiting the occasion of the Academy Awards, “for the propagation of their own personal political propaganda. I would like to suggest to Miss Redgrave that her winning an Academy Award is not a pivotal moment in history, does not require a proclamation, and a mere thank you would have sufficed.”

That moment still remains one of Oscar’s most controversial moments.

One year in the mid ’70s, Frank Sinatra responded publicly on an Oscar telecast, rebuking Dustin Hoffman for his criticism of the Academy, saying “and contrary to what Dustin Hoffman thinks, it is not a disgusting evening, it is not garish, and it is not disrespectful.”

Controversy even sometimes erupted by individuals who didn’t want to accept their Oscars. George C. Scott made it known how little he respected the Oscar, saying he would be home watching a hockey game that night, and sure enough, his name was called as the Best Actor of 1970.

The most well known example of an actor refusing his Oscar was Marlon Brando, who was named Best Actor of 1972 for The Godfather. Brando wasn’t at the Oscars either, but instead he sent Sacheen Littlefeather, an actress pretending to be Apache. She delivered the reason why Brando wouldn’t accept his Oscar, due to the poor treatment of American Indians by the film industry, at which point various boos could be heard from the audience.

Recently, controversy erupted before the Oscars, when it was announced that Elia Kazan would be receiving the Academy’s honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement, because some people never forgave him for naming names to the House on Unamerican Activities Committee in the ’50s. Some people whose careers were forever ruined because of it.

Of course controversy has even come from unexpected events, such as:

* The streaker who ran across the stage in 1974, which was as much a sign of the times as anything.
* In 1988, the Academy itself got in hot water with Disney because of the use of Snow White in a very cheesy opening production number, which also co-starred none other than Rob Lowe.
* A Best Documentary winner told the Oscar audience to ban General Electric.
* Barbra Streisand made light of the Academy’s choice to honor women through its theme one year.
* Eddie Murphy commented one year that at first he didn’t want to present Best Picture because of the lack of black actors winning Oscars.

But after a few years have passed, these Oscar moments join the other memories of Academy Awards gone by, and we can’t imagine the awards without those moments.

From now on, controversy and Oscar will continue to hang out together, and hopefully one day they too will become part of Oscar’s colorful past.

In other Oscar news:

The Academy officially announced this week that the 72nd Annual Academy Awards telecast will return to the Shrine Auditorium one last time before holding the Oscars in its own theatre. The date for the telecast has also been announced, Sunday, March 26, 2000. The Academy is again planning on a pre-Oscar arrivals show, much like it did for the first time this year.

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January 28, 2009 - Posted by | hollywood Controversies | , , , , ,

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