This Year’s Race Parallels 1962

Pete Hammond is Deadline’s awards columnist. This article appeared in the Feb. 13 issue of AwardsLine.

Many have said 2012 has been the most remarkable year for movies in the Oscar race in a very long time. The dense list of quality contenders makes for quite a race, and it’s somewhat reminiscent of another legendary year for cinema a half-century ago.

Peter O'Toole in Lawrence of Arabia.
Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia.

The year 1962 was an embarrassment of riches, and in many ways, just an embarrassment for the Academy. Yes, they did include the year’s two best films, To Kill a Mockingbird and (eventual winner) Lawrence of Arabia, in the best picture lineup and both have endured as certified classics. Both were worthy. But then the Academy padded out the remaining three spots with popular studio offerings like The Longest Day, The Music Man, and most egregiously, the bloated Marlon Brando remake of Mutiny on the Bounty. OK, these films might have been decent entertainment, but were they the best the Academy could do 50 years ago? Hardly.

Just consider the films that didn’t make the cut: Blake Edwards’ Days of Wine and Roses; John Frankenheimer’s The Manchurian Candidate, Birdman of Alcatraz, and All Fall Down; Arthur Penn’s The Miracle Worker; Robert Aldrich’s What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?; Otto Preminger’s Advise & Consent; Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita; John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance; David Miller’s Lonely Are the Brave—and this is just a partial list! Was it because all these films were in black and white? Well, so were Mockingbird and Longest Day, so that doesn’t explain it. Were they too challenging when compared to the populist films that made the cut instead? The point is, we are still seeing, experiencing, and talking about most of the best picture also-rans today. They have stood the test of time, a feat perhaps greater than ever being nominated for a best picture Oscar.

The Music Man earned a best picture nomination, but like Argo, Les Miserables, and Zero Dark Thirty, it failed to earn a best director nom.
The Music Man earned a best picture nomination, but like Argo, Les Miserables, and Zero Dark Thirty, it failed to earn a best director nom.

It is interesting to note that, just as the Academy has done this year in failing to nominate the directors of best picture nominees Argo, Les Misérables, and Zero Dark Thirty, the Academy’s directors branch of 1962 was just as prickly and contrarian in ignoring the directors of three best picture nominees (Longest Day, Mutiny, and Music Man) in favor of smaller entries like David and Lisa, The Miracle Worker, and the foreign language Italian film Divorce Italian Style, which like this year’s Austrian/French Amour also nabbed nominations for acting and writing, winning for the latter just as Amour could do. The directors of those best picture also-rans were every bit as worthy of the nomination they didn’t get (Frankenheimer’s three 1962 classics should have gotten him a nod just based on volume alone). Some things never change. And, quite frankly, considering the advanced age of some Academy members, many of the same people are still doing the voting.

The year 1962 was also when James Bond was introduced to the movies in Dr. No starring Sean Connery, still one of the best of the Bonds, yet it didn’t merit a single nomination back then. In fact, Bond has been consistently ignored throughout the past 50 years, with just a handful of technical nominations and awards. A half-century from the time Bond was introduced, it seemed like it was all going to change this year with Skyfall, which was poised to become the first Bond ever to earn a best picture nom. It didn’t happen, just like it didn’t happen 50 years ago. At least the Academy has been guilted into a special tribute to recognize this most successful—and brilliant—of all movie franchises.

Beyond best picture, which did at least go to a very deserving winner in David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia, the acting races across the board were gut-wrenching cliffhangers. I can’t recall the four categories to ever be so competitive as they were that year. For best actor, try to choose among Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird, Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia, Jack Lemmon in Days of Wine and Roses, Marcello Mastroianni in Divorce Italian Style, and Burt Lancaster in Birdman of Alcatraz. If it weren’t for Peck’s iconic Atticus Finch, which deservedly won, certainly O’Toole would have triumphed the first time out for his glorious T.E. Lawrence instead of going zero for eight and becoming Oscar’s most losing actor (thank God they finally gave him an honorary award).

Best actress was an imposing quintet with Bette Davis in a shocking comeback role, Lee Remick as a drunk, Geraldine Page as a fading film star, Katharine Hepburn doing Eugene O’Neill, and the winner, Anne Bancroft, training the blind Helen Keller. Pre-Oscar bets from Hollywood experts were on each and every one to prevail. There were duo Oscar upsets in the supporting races, too. Virtually everyone thought Lawrence’s Omar Sharif would win, but he was upstaged by a career nod to Sweet Bird of Youth’s Ed Begley. And in supporting actress, it was Angela Lansbury as Laurence Harvey’s conspiratorial and chilling mother in The Manchurian Candidate who was seen as a sure thing, only to be passed over for 16-year-old Patty Duke as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker. It was the criminally overlooked Lansbury’s to lose—and she did, never getting another shot. Oscar fans are still smarting, though Duke’s performance still holds up.

Sometimes Oscar races leave lasting scars. It’s about what could have been. And in a year as good as 2012 was, will we still be arguing the outcome 50 years from now just like we still do about ’62?

Moments In Oscar History, Part 3: The Directors

In honor of the 85th Academy Awards, AwardsLine is spotlighting memorable moments and winners from the last eight decades. This is the final installment, Part 3: The Directors.

Frank CapraFrank Capra, 1939: The 11th Academy Awards took place Feb. 23, 1939, in downtown Los Angeles’ Biltmore Hotel. Although no specific emcee steered the ship, the evening began with a rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and Basil Rathbone introduced Frank Capra as president of the Academy. Just days before, Capra had threatened to resign and boycott the ceremony in an effort to get the studios to recognize the Screen Directors Guild. He ended up prevailing over Motion Picture Producers Association president Joe Schenck—going so far as to follow him to Santa Anita Racetrack after Schenck missed a scheduled meeting. Capra’s film You Can’t Take It With You won picture and directing prizes; Spencer Tracy (Boys Town) and Bette Davis (Jezebel) won lead acting prizes; and supporting honors went to Walter Brennan for Kentucky and Fay Bainter for Jezebel.

“My third Oscar for best directing left me so stunned, I remember little of my ‘thank you’ mumblings. The rest of the program was a blur. But when Jimmy Roosevelt opened the best picture envelope and broke the suspense with, “And the best picture of the year is You Can’t Take It With You!”, my poor numbed brain tail-spinned into total amnesia.

“The crazy events of the past week: Chasing Joe Schenck to the racetrack; the strike vote, my resignation and boycott of the Academy; the last-minute producers’ agreement that called them off, that put the Directors Guild in business; the whole wonderful Academy Banquet that climaxed in my third best director and my second best picture Oscars—these were the events that simply reaffirmed a lifelong belief: Everything that happens to me happens for the best.”—Frank Capra on his Oscar wins, from his 1971 autobiography The Name Above the Title. His previous wins were for 1934’s It Happened One Night and 1936’s Mr. Deeds Goes to Town.

William WylerWilliam Wyler, 1960: The 32nd Academy Awards took place April 4, 1960, at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood and was hosted by Bob Hope. MGM’s Ben-Hur won 11 of the 12 Oscars for which it was nominated, including picture and director for William Wyler, lead actor for Charlton Heston, and supporting actor for Hugh Griffith. It was the second year in a row that the Culver City studio took home best picture after previously winning for Gigi, and Ben-Hur broke the record of most Oscars in a single evening. Lead actress honors went to Simone Signoret—the first actress to win for a foreign film—for Room at the Top, while the supporting Oscar was awarded to Shelley Winters for The Diary of Anne Frank.

“My deepest appreciation to Sam Zimbalist and Joe Vogel for their confidence, and to my fellow members of the Academy for this [raising the Oscar]. Thank you.”—William Wyler (left, with John Wayne) earned his third career Oscar for directing Ben-Hur. His previous directing wins were for 1942’s Mrs. Miniver and 1946’s The Best Years of Our Lives.

Billy Wilder backstage at the 1960 (33rd) Academy Awards ceremony.Billy Wilder, 1961: The 33rd Academy Awards took place April 17, 1961, at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, with the ever-present Bob Hope serving as emcee. It was the first time the show had taken place outside of Los Angeles or Hollywood in three decades. The ceremony also marked the beginning of ABC’s half-century association with the Oscars, with ABC winning broadcast rights to the show. Billy Wilder won picture and director Oscars for The Apartment, though neither of his nominated actors, Shirley MacLaine nor Jack Lemmon, earned trophies. Best actor was Burt Lancaster, and supporting actress was Shirley Jones, both for Elmer Gantry; lead actress went to Elizabeth Taylor for Butterfield 8; and supporting actor was Peter Ustinov for Spartacus.

“Thank you so much, you lovely discerning people. Thank you.”—Billy Wilder accepting his directing trophy for The Apartment, which earned a total of five Oscars that night. Wilder also won the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1987 at the 60th Academy Awards.

Warren Beatty 2Warren Beatty, 1982: The 54th Academy Awards were held March 29, 1982, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, hosted by Johnny Carson, who had held the reins since 1979. The two major prizes were split, with Chariots of Fire earning best picture and Warren Beatty winning for directing Reds, a film that some thought would win both awards. Henry Fonda won best actor for On Golden Pond, though he was too frail to attend the ceremony; Katharine Hepburn won her fourth Oscar for her lead in the same film; John Gielgud won a supporting trophy for Arthur; and Maureen Stapleton won for her supporting role in Reds. After thanking two other nominees, Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton, in his acceptance speech, Beatty turned his attention to the studio executives who greenlit his film.

“I do want to name Mr. Barry Diller who runs Paramount, Mr. Dick Zimbert who’s been very kind to me, Mr. Frank Mancuso, and Mr. Charles Bluhdorn who runs Gulf + Western and God knows what else. And I want to say to you gentlemen that no matter how much we might have liked to have strangled each other from time to time, I think that your decision, taken in the great capitalistic tower of Gulf + Western, to finance a 3½-hour romance which attempts to reveal for the first time just something of the beginnings of American socialism and American communism, reflects credit not only upon you, I think it reflects credit upon Hollywood and the movie business wherever that is. And I think that it reflects more particular credit on the freedom of expression that we have in our American society and the lack of censorship that we have from the government or the people who put up the money. Thanks.”—Warren Beatty accepting his directing trophy for Reds. He also took home the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1999.

Sydney Pollack backstage at the 1985 (58th) Academy Awards ceremony.Sydney Pollack, 1986: The 58th Academy Awards took place March 24, 1986, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, with Jane Fonda, Alan Alda, and Robin Williams serving as hosts. Sydney Pollack’s Out of Africa won seven Oscars out of 11 total nominations, a virtual sweep, although neither of its nominated leads—Meryl Streep nor Robert Redford—won for their roles. Lead actor honors went to William Hurt for The Kiss of the Spider Woman, and lead actress was Geraldine Page for The Trip to Bountiful. Don Ameche earned the supporting actor Oscar for Cocoon, while Anjelica Huston took home a supporting actress trophy for Prizzi’s Honor.

“Thank you very much. Frank Price made this film possible. He had the courage when it mattered the most and was easy to say no. I knew it was impossible to get a screenplay from this material, so I didn’t try; Kurt Luedtke didn’t know it was impossible and so he did it. David Rayfiel kept us honest. Meryl, Bob, Klaus, and Malick brought those characters to life and made an incredible world. All of us being helped all the time by Terry Clegg who kept us going. I had a team of editors who locked themselves in a room with me seven days a week, 12 hours a day and behaved as though nothing else in the world existed. John Barry made it all sing. Karen Blixen lived that life and turned it into art and taught a generation a new way to write prose. My wife, Claire, gave me more encouragement than I have any right to have, put up with more, was more tolerant. I’m indebted to all of them. I can’t leave this podium without saying, I could not have made this film without Meryl Streep. She is astounding personally, professionally, in all ways, and I can’t thank her enough. Thank you.”—Sydney Pollack accepting his directing Oscar for Out of Africa, for which he won a second producing trophy that same evening when the film was named best picture.

Jon Voight Remembers Winning The Oscar

“There were wonderful films represented and great actors that evening. Bobby De Niro was up for The Deer Hunter, Warren Beatty for Heaven Can Wait, Gary Busey for The Buddy Holly Story, and Laurence Olivier for The Boys From Brazil, and I was the frontrunner according to Vegas odds and everything else. It seemed to be a moment between two Vietnam films, one being Deer Hunter and the other being our film, Coming Home.

A couple days before, I flew in from New York. Two seats away from me was Laurence Olivier. He was just recovering from prostate cancer. He had very thick glasses, as he could hardly see, and had arthritis that was so severe (that) when he stood up to put his coat on; he needed the help of his son Richard. It was very sad for me because I had seen Olivier play kings and do a magnificent job. I was really attentive to his entire career, and in his generation, he was the great actor who inspired and created dreams for other actors. So he was the man. Then I saw him in this state.

Then the night before the Oscars, I got a phone call at home. ‘Hello, Jon, this is Larry Olivier.’ I said to myself, ‘Oh, my God, I didn’t know what to call him!’ It was Lord Olivier. I explained my real attentiveness to all his work and the kindness of his call, and he called to say how wonderful my performance was. Can you imagine? That was a big deal.

Now, I go the Oscars and I’m sitting there with the nerves of that event. I had a little something prepared to say if it came my way, and all of a sudden Cary Grant introduces the lifetime achievement award, and it’s going to Laurence Olivier. There I am, part of this focus of that evening and even the center of that focus in some way because the best actor award is one of the big ones. So Cary Grant comes on stage and introduces very beautifully, as he does in his charming style, his friend, Larry Olivier.

And Larry Olivier walks out on stage. And he has no glasses. And he’s standing erect. And he gives a speech that is prepared, like a piece of poetry: A brilliant, beautiful speech of gratitude to the Academy, and to the business and to the art of filmmaking and his career. It was like watching a great sports moment. I’m thinking, ‘Oh, my God!’ He’s like a tightrope walker. I know the guy can’t move his arms. I know he can’t see. I know he’s in a debilitated state, but look what he’s doing. As I’m watching him, the people who are running the show saw my response immediately. I was very moved by him. And then as he started doing his speech, I was overwhelmed because no one comes that prepared in some sense. He was showing us not only through his career, but through his appearance, how to handle that moment in the spotlight. They cut from his speech to my response, back and forth. Finally, when he finished, I went ‘Phew!’ It was like watching an impossible act happen, and when he concluded with such a gracious speech, finishing with a perfect manner and words, it was ‘Bravo!’ for all that it meant.

When they finally announced my name, the first thing I said graciously and profoundly is that I was overwhelmed by listening to that great man speak. Sometimes, when they replay my Oscar acceptance, they play back that moment when I’m moved by Olivier as though it was my response to getting the Oscar. But it wasn’t. My response to getting the Oscar was to put my head down and say, ‘OK.’ I took a real long pause and made my way to the stage eventually. I didn’t have that kind of emotion coming off the announcement of my name. It was quite a stirring moment.

My real focus was on Olivier. It took away from me a little bit, so I was a little bit more comfortable, and it put my award in perspective in some fashion. It was a great thing to see the great man in that moment and to know all the things that I knew about him. I wasn’t so moved by receiving the Oscar. I was moved by it, but the emotion of that evening was invested in watching Olivier take the stage.”—As told to Anthony D’Alessandro

Moments In Oscar History, Part 2: Actors & Actresses

In honor of the 85th Academy Awards, AwardsLine is spotlighting memorable moments and winners from the last eight decades. This is Part 2: Actors & Actresses. Part 3 will be The Directors.

Sidney Poitier (actor), Sidney Skolsky1963 (36th)Sidney Poitier, 1964: Academy Award winner Jack Lemmon hosted the 36th Academy Awards, which took place April 13, 1964, at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Though the Academy still rarely awards comedies, best picture and director honors went to Tony Richardson’s Tom Jones. Hud claimed two of the acting trophies, for lead actress Patricia Neal and supporting actor Melvyn Douglas, while Sidney Poitier was best actor for Lilies of the Field and Margaret Rutherford was supporting actress for The V.I.P.s. Among the acting winners, only Poitier was on hand to accept his statuette at the ceremony.

“Because it is a long journey to this moment, I am naturally indebted to countless numbers of people, principally among whom are Ralph Nelson, James Poe, William Barrett, Martin Baum, and of course, the members of the Academy. For all of them, all I can say is a very special thank you.”—Sidney Poitier accepting his first Oscar for Lilies of the Field. He won a second honorary Oscar in 2001.

Barbra StreisandBarbra Streisand, 1969: The 41st Academy Awards took place April 14, 1969, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, with a group of 10 hosts that included Ingrid Bergman, Sidney Poitier, and Burt Lancaster. The best picture Oscar went to Oliver!, and its director Carol Reed also took home a statuette. Cliff Robertson won the lead actor trophy for Charly, but the actress category was a tie—the second in Oscar history—between Katharine Hepburn for Lion in Winter and Barbra Streisand for Funny Girl. It was the first Oscar for Streisand, and Hepburn’s third— director Anthony Harvey accepted for Hepburn, who was not in attendance.

“Hello, gorgeous. And I’m very honored to be in such magnificent company as Katharine Hepburn. And gee whiz, it’s kind of a wild feeling… Somebody once asked me if I was happy. And I said, ‘Are you kidding? I would be miserable if I was happy.’ And I’d like to thank all the members of the Academy for making me really miserable. Thank you.”—Barbra Streisand accepting her first lead actress Oscar for Funny Girl. She earned her second in 1976 for writing “Evergreen (Love Theme From A Star Is Born)” with Paul Williams.

Tatum O'Neal (supporting) - 1973 (46th)Tatum O’Neal, 1974: The 46th Academy Awards took place at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on April 2, 1974, and was hosted by John Huston, Diana Ross, Burt Reynolds, and David Niven. Not only did three-time winner Katharine Hepburn make her very first appearance at the ceremony, but a first-timer, Tatum O’Neal, became the youngest Oscar winner in history that evening. Ten-year-old O’Neal earned a supporting actress trophy for playing opposite her father, Ryan, in Paper Moon. Her costar Madeline Kahn was nominated in the same category, along with another young star Linda Blair (The Exorcist), Candy Clark (American Graffiti), and Sylvia Sidney (Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams). Jack Lemmon earned a lead actor Oscar for Save the Tiger, and Glenda Jackson was best actress for A Touch of Class. The picture and director trophies went to George Roy Hill’s The Sting. It was also the year of the infamous streaker…

“All I really want to thank is my director Peter Bogdanovich and my father. Thank you.”—Tatum O’Neal, whose grandfather accompanied her to the stage, accepting her first Oscar for her supporting role in Paper Moon.

Tom Hanks (actor) - 1993 (66th)Tom Hanks, 1994: The 66th Academy Awards took place March 21, 1994, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and was hosted by Whoopi Goldberg, the first African-American to host an Oscar telecast alone. All four of the year’s acting trophies went to first-timers, too. Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin earned lead and supporting actress honors for The Piano, while Tommy Lee Jones won supporting actor for The Fugitive. But the most moving speech of the night came from Tom Hanks, who won best actor for playing a man with AIDS in Philadelphia. Not only did he pay touching tribute to his wife and costars in the speech, he thanked a teacher and classmate who inspired him in the role. Steven Spielberg won his first directing trophy for Schindler’s List, which also gave him a second Oscar that night when it also took home best picture.

“I would not be standing here if it weren’t for two very important men in my life: Mr. Rawley Farnsworth—who was my high-school drama teacher, who taught me to act well the part, there all the glory lies—and one of my classmates under Mr. Farnsworth, Mr. John Gilkerson. I mention their names because they are two of the finest gay Americans, two wonderful men that I had the good fortune to be associated with, to fall under their inspiration at such a young age. I wish my babies could have the same sort of teacher, the same sort of friends.

“And there lies my dilemma here tonight. I know that my work in this case is magnified by the fact that the streets of heaven are too crowded with angels. We know their names. They number a thousand for each one of the red ribbons that we wear here tonight. They finally rest in the warm embrace of the gracious creator of us all—a healing embrace that cools their fevers, that clears their skin, and allows their eyes to see the simple, self-evident, common-sense truth that is made manifest by the benevolent creator of us all and was written down on paper by wise men, tolerant men, in the city of Philadelphia 200 years ago. God bless you all. God have mercy on us all. And God bless America.”—Tom Hanks accepting his first best actor Oscar for Philadelphia. He won his second Oscar the following year for Forrest Gump.

Jessica Tandy (actress) - 1989 (62nd)Jessica Tandy, 1999: First-time Oscar emcee Billy Crystal hosted the 62nd Academy Awards, which took place March 26, 1990, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. And when the independent feature Driving Miss Daisy took home best picture without a directing nomination for Bruce Beresford, the Oscar-prognosticating rulebooks were forever altered. The film won a total of four trophies that night, including best actress for Jessica Tandy. Daniel Day-Lewis took home best actor for My Left Foot, and directing honors went to Oliver Stone for Born on the Fourth of July. Supporting honors went to Brenda Fricker for My Left Foot and Denzel Washington for Glory.

“I never expected in a million years that I would ever be in this position. It’s a miracle. And I thank my lucky stars and Richard and Lili Zanuck, who had the faith to give me this wonderful chance. And also, most especially, to that forgotten man, my director Bruce Beresford. The cast that was with me, which made a wonderful, happy family. It was a pleasure to go to work with them all each day. And to Sam Cohn, who takes such good care of me. Thank you, the Academy, and all of you. I am on cloud nine!”—Jessica Tandy in accepting her first and only best actress Oscar for Driving Miss Daisy.

Moments In Oscar History, Part 1: The Producers

In honor of the 85th Academy Awards, AwardsLine is spotlighting memorable moments and winners from the last eight decades. This is Part 1: The Producers. Part 2 will be Actors & Actresses; Part 3 will be The Directors.

David O. SelznickDavid O. Selznick, 1940: The 12th Academy Awards took place at the Ambassador Hotel on Feb. 29, 1940, honoring a year that produced some of the most enduring films in history. Not only did David O. Selznick’s Gone With the Wind earn a recordbreaking eight statuettes—including picture, director for Victor Fleming, and actress for Vivien Leigh—but other well-known classics enjoyed nominations, including Dark Victory, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Ninotchka, and The Wizard of Oz. Frank Capra was both a nominee and director of the show, having sold the rights to a documentary of the proceedings to Warner Bros. Bob Hope hosted for the first time, although the Los Angeles Times eliminated some of the suspense by printing the winners in its evening edition, which attendees could read on the way to the ceremony. Robert Donat earned a best actor award for Goodbye, Mr. Chips.

“Paramount executive Y. Frank Freeman was called upon to bestow the best picture award. Since there was no longer any question as to what was going to win, Freeman kidded, ‘The only reason I was called upon to give this honor is because I have a Southern accent.’ Handing Selznick the award, Freeman drawled, ‘I present this trophy to you, David Selznick. But David, I never saw so many soldiers as were used in Gone With the Wind. Believe me, if the Confederate Army had that many, we would have licked you damn Yankees.’”

–Excerpt from Inside Oscar (Damien Bona, Ballantine Books, 1996) detailing David O. Selznick’s best picture Oscar acceptance for Gone With the Wind, which went through two directors—George Cukor and Sam Wood—prior to Victor Fleming.

Cecil B. DemilleCecil B. DeMille, 1953: The 25th Academy Awards ceremony took place March 19, 1953, at the Pantages Theater. It was hosted by Bob Hope—his sixth time as emcee—and the ceremony aired on television for the very first time, despite the movie industry’s reticence to embrace the new medium. Although commercial TV had only been around for about five years, the Oscar telecast drew the largest audience to date. Gary Cooper won best actor for High Noon; Shirley Booth was best actress for Come Back, Little Sheba; and best director was John Ford for The Quiet Man.

“On behalf of the thousands that it took to make The Greatest Show on Earth, I thank you for them. For the stars and the electricians, for the circus people, for their bravery. I thank you for all of them because I am only one little link in a chain that produced that picture. And I’m very happy for them. Thank you.”

Cecil B. DeMille (with Katherine DeMille Quinn, left, and Gloria Grahame) accepting the 1952 best picture Oscar for The Greatest Show on Earth. He earned the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award that same year. His only other statuette was an honorary Oscar in 1950.

Sam SpiegelSam Spiegel, 1963: The 35th Academy Awards took place April 8, 1963, at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, and Frank Sinatra had hosting duties for the first time. Lawrence of Arabia was the big winner of the night, taking home seven statuettes, including picture and director for David Lean. Best actor was Gregory Peck for To Kill a Mockingbird and best actress was Anne Bancroft for The Miracle Worker.

“Ladies and gentlemen, there is no magic formula for creating good pictures. They are made with the serious, concerted hard work by everyone connected in the making of them: The writer, the director, the technicians, the actors, thousands of employees off the picture during the making of it. In behalf of all of those who sweated months in the desert to create this picture, I deeply, sincerely thank the voters of the Academy and proudly accept this honor, proudly and humbly. Thank you.”

Sam Spiegel (with Olivia de Havilland) accepting the 1962 best picture Oscar for Lawrence of Arabia. He won two other Oscars, for 1954’s On the Waterfront and 1957’s Bridge on the River Kwai, plus earned the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1964.

Richard and Lili ZanuckRichard D. & Lili Fini Zanuck, 1990: The 62nd Academy Awards took place March 26, 1990, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, with Billy Crystal taking his maiden voyage as host. Longtime telecast producer Gil Cates held the reins behind the scenes for the first time, as well. The low-budget favorite Driving Miss Daisy earned a total of four Oscars, including best actress for Jessica Tandy and best picture. Daniel Day-Lewis took home best actor for My Left Foot, and directing honors went to Oliver Stone for Born on the Fourth of July.

“Thank you, Academy. We’re up here for really one very simple reason, and that’s the fact that Bruce Beresford is a brilliant director. It’s as simple as that.”[Ed. note: Beresford did not receive a directing nom that year].

—Richard D. Zanuck accepting the 1989 best picture Oscar for Driving Miss Daisy. He earned one more Oscar in 1991, the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award.

“I hope I’m as religious all the rest of the year as I’ve been the last two months. I would very much like to thank the Academy for honoring us and making my mama so proud. Thank you.”

—Lili Fini Zanuck accepting for Driving Miss Daisy.

Saul Zaentz Saul Zaentz, 1997: The 69th Academy Awards took place March 24, 1997, at the Shrine Auditorium. Billy Crystal, by now a familiar face at the telecast, hosted for the fifth time. But the ceremony did have a first: No major studio took home any Oscars in the major categories. The picture and director prizes went to The English Patient; best actor was Geoffrey Rush for Shine; and best actress went to Frances McDormand for Fargo. All were independently produced features.

“I said my cup was full before, now it runneth over. I’d like to thank actors. I love actors. Producers are supposed to not be in love with them, but I love ’em. And I love writers and directors, too. And everyone who worked on the picture, for what they did in making the picture happen. When we were shut down, ran out of money, everyone stayed there in Italy, without pay. Then Harvey and Bob Weinstein came through and financed the picture—we had final cut, though.”

—Saul Zaentz accepting the 1996 best picture Oscar for The English Patient. At the same ceremony, he also earned the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. English Patient marked his third best picture win following 1975’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and 1984’s Amadeus.