The history of the Academy Award statuette, or Oscar, is as illustrious as the lavish presentation
ceremonies themselves. The Oscar is the most prestigious award in the
motion picture industry and is
possibly the most coveted award in all of entertainment. The following detailed history of the
Academy Award will ensure readers have earned their honorary
online degrees in Oscar lore.

The Oscar statuette, designed by MGM's chief art director Cedric Gibbons, depicts a knight holding a
crusader's sword, standing on a reel of film with five spokes, signifying the original branches of the
Academy: Actors, Writers, Directors, Producers, and Technicians.

Frederic Hope, Gibbons' assistant, created the original Belgian black marble base; artist George
Stanley sculpted the design; and the California Bronze Foundry hand cast the first statuette in bronze
plated with 24-karat gold.

Oscar's height: 13 1/2 inches
Oscar's weight: 8 1/2 pounds
Number of Oscars presented at Academy Awards shows or to winners absent from show to date: 2,700
Number of eligible categories in 1927: 13
Number of eligible categories in 2011: 24
How many people it takes to make a statuette: 12
How long it takes to make a statuette: 20 hours
Number of Oscars manufactured each year: 50-60
How many Oscars have been refused: 3
Number of decorative prop Oscar statues: 65
Smallest decorative prop Oscar statue: 1-½ feet
Tallest decorative prop Oscar statue: 24 feet

Born in 1928, years would pass before the Academy Award of Merit was officially named  Oscar
Industry insiders and members of the press called the award the Academy statuette, the golden
trophy or the statue of merit. The entertainment trade paper, Weekly Variety, even attempted to
popularize the iron man. The term never stuck.

A popular story has been that an Academy librarian and eventual executive director, Margaret
Herrick, thought the statuette resembled her Uncle Oscar and said so, and that as a result the
Academy staff began referring to it as Oscar.

No hard evidence exists to support that tale, but in any case, by the sixth Awards Presentation in
1934, Hollywood columnist Sidney Skolsky used the name in his column in reference to Katharine
Hepburn's first Best Actress win. The Academy itself didn't use the nickname officially until 1939.

Since its conception, the Oscar statuette has met exacting uniform standards -- with a few notable
exceptions. In the 1930s, juvenile players received miniature replicas of the statuette; ventriloquist
Edgar Bergen was presented with a wooden statuette with a moveable mouth; and Walt Disney was
honored with one full-size and seven miniature statuettes on behalf of his animated feature SNOW
WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS. Between 1942 and 1944, in support of the war effort, Oscars
were made of plaster. After the War, winners turned in the temporary awards for golden Oscar

The traditional Oscar statuette, however, hasn't changed since the 1940s, when the base was made
higher. In 1945, the base was changed from marble to metal and in 1949, Academy Award statuettes
began to be numbered, starting with No. 501.

Approximately 50 Oscars are made each year in Chicago by the manufacturer, R.S. Owens. If they
don't meet strict quality control standards, the statuettes are immediately cut in half and melted

Each award is individually packed into a Styrofoam container slightly larger than a shoebox. Eight of
these are then packed into a larger cardboard box, and the large boxes are shipped to the Academy
offices in Beverly Hills via air express, with no identifiable markings.

On March 10, 2000, 55 Academy Awards mysteriously vanished en route from the Windy City to the
City of Angels. Nine days later, 52 of stolen statuettes were discovered next to a dumpster in the
Koreatown section of Los Angeles by Willie Fulgear, who was later invited by the Academy to attend
the Oscar 2000 ceremonies as a special guest.

For eight decades, Oscar has survived war, weathered earthquakes, and even managed to escape
unscathed from common thieves. Since 1995, however, R.S. Owens has repaired more than 160
statuettes.  Maybe somebody used chemicals on them to polish them and the chemicals rubbed right
through the lacquer and into the gold, explains the company president.  Or maybe people stored them
someplace where they corroded.  Although he stresses that the statuette is made to endure, Siegel
offers this  advice to all Oscar winners, "If it gets dusty, simply wipe it with a soft dry cloth."

This particular Academy First Award for the Most Outstanding Documentary Short Subject of 1949
was awarded to producer and documentary film pioneer Richard de Rochemont, for the March of
Time installment "A Chance to Live." (That same year he produced Crusade in Europe, the first
documentary series produced for television.) Because it was awarded in March of 1950, it is one of the
final awards to be exempted from the Academy's no-sale rule, and is one of the last Oscars (if not
THE last Oscar) awarded that is still able to be resold.

Sold for:  $65,725.00 April 2008

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Cedric Gibbons
Academy Award - Oscar Facts
The purpose and use of this sight is for informational exhibition of privately owned memorabilia and contains data as reference for memorabilia identification. This site is
not for profit. This sight is in no way sanctioned, operated, endorsed, or affiliated with the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. (AMPAS) This sight is in
no way is intended to be looked at or represent an official site in any manner. Oscar” statuette, and owner of its trademarks and service marks, including “OSCAR®,”
“OSCARS®,” “ACADEMY AWARD®,” “ACADEMY AWARDS®,” “OSCAR NIGHT®,” “A.M.P.A.S, design mark are trademarks and service marks of the
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Copyright 2008