Ready to impress the guests at your 2019 Oscars party? We’ve rounded up 10 fun facts from the Academy Awards annals as we count down the hours until this year’s big show.
Believe it or not, only 270 people attended 1929’s debut Academy Awards ceremony. Plus, there was zero suspense, since the recipients had been announced three months prior. The following year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences kept the results a secret but still sent newspapers an advance list of winners for publication after the ceremony. In 1940, however, the Los Angeles Times spoiled the results in its evening edition, which guests could have read as they arrived to the glitzy awards show. Since then, the Academy has used sealed envelopes to keep the names of the winners under lockdown.
As for Oscar himself? The statuette, which depicts a knight holding a crusader’s sword on a reel of film, was designed by MGM art director Cedric Gibbons and sculpted by Los Angeles artist George Stanley. It’s unclear how the trophy got its nickname, “Oscar,” but Hollywood legend has it that Academy librarian Margaret Herrick thought it looked like her Uncle Oscar. The moniker stuck until the Academy officially adopted it in 1939.
In the decades since, more than 3,000 Academy Award statuettes have been handed out, and many more are ready to be handed out on Sunday, February 24 — with Lady Gaga, Rami Malek and Yalitza Aparicio in contention to win their first Oscars, and Black Panther primed to become the first superhero movie to win Best Picture. While we wait to see if those nominees take home the big prize, scroll down to learn more about the first 90 years of the ceremony.
The 91st Academy Awards will air live on ABC on Sunday, February 24, at 8 p.m. ET.