First Academy Awards

On May 16th, 1929 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science handed out its first awards at a private dinner party of around 250 people at the Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles, California. Yes, movies and very long ceremonies to celebrate them have actually been around for that long. This first award ceremony is the only one that was not broadcasted on radio or television.


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science had been around since 1927. The organization was created in an effort to unite film workers, mediate labor disputes, and improve the film industry’s image. Membership was only open to people involved in one of the five branches of the industry—actors, directors, writers, technicians, and producers.

The first Academy Awards had just 12 categories—just half as many as this years. That year, sound had just been introduced to film—movies with film were referred to as “talkies.” However, films with sound were not allowed to compete in the ceremony because the Academy decided it would be unfair to make silent films compete against them. Wouldn’t you know it, that year would be the only year a silent film would win Best Picture—the sound thing turned out to be a very popular trend!


Charlie Chaplin was given a special, honorary award. The ballyhoo and ruckus that followed the unpopular move by the Academy would contribute to Chaplin’s unpopularity in Hollywood for years to come. No worries though, Charlie, you will not be the last celebrity to go down in Oscar infamy. Skip to 1:25 to watch Michael Moore get booed off the stage!

Today, the Oscars remain a much televised, celebrated, and jabbered about event. Whether you have your own draft or sulk about all the commotion, the event always entertains!

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