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Academy Awards Timeline

An Updated Chronological History of Notable Tidbits

To ignite interest in Sunday’s “89th Annual Academy Awards” telecast on ABC, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, what follows is an update of the notable facts, observations and Oscar moments since its inception in 1928. Keep in mind that each bullet point pertains to the year the movies ran in the theaters.

Wings wins in a category referred to as Best Production, while Sunrise is cited for Artistic Quality of Production. Beloved Charlie Chaplin in The Circus loses to Emil Jannings as Best Actor, who is cited for both The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh. Best Actress: Janet Gaynor for performances in Seventh Heaven, Street Angel and Sunrise. Classic The Jazz Singer is given a special award.

America’s Sweetheart, Mary Pickford, is awarded as Best Actress in Coquette. Broadway Melody is the Best Production and Warner Baxter is Best Actor for In Old Arizona.

And the Oscar goes to All Quiet on the Western Front for Best Production and Director, George Arliss (Disraeli) for Best Actor and Norma Shearer (The Divorcee) for Best Actress. The category of Sound Recording is added.

Best Production is changed to Best Picture, with Cimmaron grabbing top honors, and the Writing category is split into two awards – adaptation and original script. Lionel Barrymore (A Free Soul) and Marie Dressler (Min and Bill) take home trophies in the acting categories.

Only films shot in America become eligible for cinematography and the category of Best Short Subject is added, with Laurel and Hardy’s The Music Box the first winner. Best Picture: Grand Hotel. Best Actor: Wallace Beery for The Champ.

Katharine Hepburn wins her first of four Academy Awards for Best Actress in Morning Glory. Cavalcade is the Best Picture and classic King Kong does not get a single nomination.

The No. 1 box office champ at the time, 6-year old Shirley Temple, wins an Honorary Oscar, and comedy It Happened One Night, one of 12 nominated films, is named Best Picture.

Bette Davis (Dangerous) wins her first of two Best Actress Oscars. Mutiny on the Bounty is the Best Picture. A notable loser was Clark Gable in Mutiny on the Bounty, who loses to Victor McLaglen in The Informer. Best Actor and Actress: Paul Muni (The Story of Louis Pasteur) and Luise Rainer (The Great Ziegfield).

Supporting acting categories are now included and The Great Ziegfeld wins Best Picture. Frank Capra is cited in the directing category for Mr. Deeds Goes to Town.

The honorary Irving Thalberg award is added, and The Life of Emile Zola is awarded Best Picture. Spencer Tracy is Best Actor for Captains Courageous.

Spencer Tracy (Boys Town) and Bette Davis (Jezebel) win their second Academy Awards, and 56 years will pass before another actor – Tom Hanks – wins Best Actor for two consecutive years.

Gone with the Wind, the first color movie to be named Best Picture, sweeps the awards. Notable losers: The Wizard of Oz and Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

Rebecca is nominated for 11 Oscars, but its only win is for Best Picture. Jimmy Stewart (The Philadelphia Story) and Ginger Rogers (Kitty Foyle) take the top acting categories.

Citizen Kane loses to How Green Was My Valley as Best Picture. Gary Cooper (Sergeant York) and Joan Fontaine (Suspicion) win in the lead acting categories. Sore loser: Fontaine’s sister Olivia De Havilland, who was also nominated as Best Actress for Hold Back the Dawn.


Best Actor: James Cagney for Yankee Doodle Dandy. A record 42 films are nominated as Best Documentary. Best Picture: Mrs. Miniver. Best Actress: Greer Garson for Mrs. Miniver, who was not at a loss for words in her lengthy acceptance speech.

Casablanca takes home the statuette for Best Picture despite favorite Humphrey Bogart going home empty handed. Best Actor and Actress: Paul Lukas (Watch on the Rhine) and Jennifer Jones (The Song of Bernadette)

Leo McCarey (Going My Way) is the first person to win in both the directing and writing categories. Going My Way star Bing Crosby and Ingrid Berman (Gaslight) are named in the lead acting categories.

“Mommy Dearest,” Joan Crawford, wins for Best Actress in Mildred Pierce. Best Picture: The Lost Weekend. Although Oscar-less Alfred Hitchcock receives a nomination for Spellbound, Billy Wilder wins in the Director category for The Lost Weekend.

The Best Years of Our Lives sweeps most categories, while holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life walks away empty handed. Harold Russell is the only actor to win two Oscars in the same year for the same role: Best Supporting Actor and a special Oscar for bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans in The Best Years of Our Lives.

Gentleman’s Agreement wins over perennial holiday favorite Miracle on 34th Street. Loretta Young (The Farmer’s Daughter) wins the Best Actress statuette, while Edmund Gwenn is Best Supporting Actor in Miracle on 34th Street.

Hamlet is Best Picture and the category of Best Costume Design is introduced, which includes a first-time nomination for classic designer Edith Head.

All the King’s Men is named Best Picture in this highly forgettable year of films. Best Actress: Olivia De Havilland for The Heiress.


Classic All About Eve, which was nominated for a record 14 Oscars, wins Best Picture over favorite Sunset Boulevard, while starlet Marilyn Monroe makes her one and only appearance on the show. Best Actor: Jose Ferrer (Cyrano de Bergerac). Best Actress: Judy Holliday (Born Yesterday).

Three acting awards for A Streetcar Named Desire (to Vivien Leigh, Karl Malden and Kim Hunter in the supporting categories) do not translate into a Best Picture win. And the Oscar goes to: An American in Paris. Best Actor and Actress: Humphrey Bogart (The African Queen) and Vivien Leigh (A Streetcar Named Desire).

The Best Picture is The Greatest Show on Earth while Shirley Booth, pre-Hazel, wins for Best Actress in Come Back, Little Sheba. Best Actor: Gary Cooper in western High Noon.

25-year old Audrey Hepburn is cited for her first film, Roman Holiday. Best Picture: From Here To Eternity. Walt Disney wins four Oscars: Best Documentary Feature, Documentary Short Subject, Cartoon Short Subject and Two-reel Short Subject.

Marlon Brando wins his first Oscar for On the Waterfront, which also wins Best Picture. Notable loser: Alfred Hitchcock for his directing efforts in Rear Window.


Despite minimal on-screen time, Jo Van Fleet is named Best Supporting Actress in East of Eden. Marty wins Best Picture, and eventual McHale’s Navy star Ernest Borgnine gets the Best Actor trophy for Marty.

Around the World in 80 Days beats favorites The King and I and The Ten Commandments for Best Picture. The King and I star Yul Brynner is named Best Actor, and Ingrid Bergman is Best Actress for Anastasia.


The Bridge on the River Kwai snags the Best Picture Oscar and Miyoshi Umeki, pre-Courtship of Eddie’s Father, is named Best Supporting Actress for Sayonara. Best Actor and Actress: Alec Guiness (The Bridge on the River Kwai) and Joanne Woodward (The Three Faces of Eve).


With the exception of the acting categories, musical Gigi dominates. Liza’s Dad, Vincente Minelli, is named Best Director for Gigi, and animated Bugs Bunny wins his first Oscar. Best Actor and Actress: David Niven (Separate Tables) and Susan Hayward (I Want to Live!).


Oscar champ Ben-Hur takes home 11 statuettes and Buster Keaton wins an honorary Oscar. Roseanne’s Nana Mary, Shelley Winters, is named Best Supporting Actress for The Diary of Anne Frank — her first of two Oscars.


Elizabeth Taylor is named Best Actress for Butterfield 8, a rumored sympathy win because of her then-almost fatal illness. Best Picture: The Apartment. Best Actor: Burt Lancaster for Elmer Gantry.


West Side Story rules with 10 trophies – the most honored musical historically. Best Actress: Sophia Loren for Two Women. Best Supporting Actor and Actress: George Chakiris and Rita Moreno, both for West Side Story.


Gregory Peck is cited for his lead role To Kill a Mockingbird. Lawrence of Arabia is Best Picture. Youngest nominee in the history of The Oscars: 9-year old Mary Badham for Best Supporting Actress in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Sidney Poitier (Lillies of the Field) becomes the first African American to win as Best Actor. Best Picture: Tom Jones. Best Actress: Patricia Neal (Hud).

Julie Andrews is named Best Actress in the now-classic Mary Poppins, as all four acting categories are dominated by non-American actors including Rex Harrison (Best Actor: My Fair Lady), Peter Ustinov (Best Supporting Actor: Topkapi) and Lila Kedrova (Best Supporting Actress: Zorba the Greek). Bewitched Mom Agnes Moorehead in Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte is one of the Supporting Actress nominees.

The hills are alive with the sound of Oscar with a Best Picture win for The Sound of Music. Shelley Winters snags her second Best Actress Oscar, this time for A Patch of Blue. Best Actor and Actress: Lee Marvin (Cat Ballou) and Julie Christy (Darling).

Walter Matthau is named Best Supporting Actor in The Fortune Cookie. Elizabeth Taylor wins her second statuette for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Best Picture: A Man For All Seasons.


The ceremony is delayed two days due to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Eventually, In the Heat of the Night wins Best Picture and Katharine Hepburn snags Academy Award No. 2 Best Actress in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

Pajama clad Barbra Streisand (Funny Girl) and Katharine Hepburn (The Lion in Winter) share the Oscar. Oliver! is Best Picture — the last musical to win in this category before Chicago in 2002. Although Jack Albertson is best remembered for NBC sitcom Chico and the Man, he is named Best Supporting Actor for The Subject Was Roses.


Midnight Cowboy becomes the first, and only, X-rated film to win as Best Picture. John Wayne is honored for True Grit, and young Goldie Hawn snags the Supporting Actress statuette for Cactus Flower.


George C. Scott refuses to accept his Academy Award for Patton while Glenda Jackson (Women in Love) is named Best Actress. Despite minimal acting skills, Ali MacGraw manages to snag a nomination for Love Story. Best Picture: Patton. Best Supporting Actor and Actress: John Mills (Ryan’s Daughter) and Helen Hayes (Airport).

Gene Hackman (The French Connection) and Jane Fonda (Klute) win their first Oscars. Best Picture: The French Connection. Biggest moment of the evening: elderly Charlie Chaplin returning to America for the first time in three decades to receive an honorary Oscar. Also worth noting: Ben Johnson and Cloris Leachman of The Last Picture Show taking home the trophies in the supporting categories.

Marlon Brando (The Godfather) sends Sacheen Littlefeather to the podium to accept his acting award while Liza Minelli is visibly present to accept her Oscar for Cabaret. Best Picture: The Godfather. Biggest winner: Cabaret, with eight statuettes.

Remembered as the year of the streak, unknown Robert Opal runs onstage sans clothing past presenter David Niven. The Sting is named Best Picture. Tatum O’Neal (Supporting Actress – Paper Moon) becomes the youngest person to ever win an Academy Award. Katharine Hepburn, meanwhile, attends the ceremony for the first time to present producer Lawrence Weingarten with the Thalberg Award.

The Godfather II becomes the first sequel to be named Best Picture. Ellen Burstyn is not present to give her acceptance speech for for Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, while Art Carney snags the Best Actor trophy for Harry and Tonto. Attaboy, Norton!


Jack Nicholson for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest wins his first of three Oscars, while 80-year old George Burns is Best Supporting Actor in The Sunshine Boys. For only the second time in Academy Awards history, a single film — One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest — wins in the top five categories including Louise Fletcher as Best Actress and Milos Forman as Best Director. Best Supporting Actress: Lee Grant (Shampoo).


Rocky wins Best Picture, but Sylvester Stallone loses to the recently deceased Peter Finch (Network). Also giving an acceptance speech for Network: Faye Dunaway (Best Actress) and Beatrice Straight (Best Supporting Actress), the latter a surprise due to her limited screen time.

Screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky scolds Supporting Actress winner Vanessa Redgrave (Julia) for using the Oscars to express her political views. Best Actor and Actress: Richard Dreyfuss (The Goodbye Girl) and Diane Keaton (Annie Hall).

Jane Fonda and Jon Voight win the top acting honors for their lead roles in Coming Home. Twenty-two years later Angelina Jolie, Voight’s daughter, takes home her own Oscar. Christopher Walken (The Deer Hunter) and Maggie Smith (California Suite) dominate in the supporting categories.


Dustin Hoffman (Best Actor) and Meryl Streep (Best Supporting Actress) win their first Academy Awards in Kramer vs. Kramer. TV’s Flying Nun, Sally Field, is named Best Actress for Norma Rae.


Loretta Lynn and Jake LaMotta are present as the actors playing them — Sissy Spacek (Coal Miner’s Daughter) and Robert De Niro (Raging Bull) — take home the Oscar gold. Best Picture: Ordinary People. Notable loser: Mary Tyler Moore in Ordinary People. Supporting winners: Timothy Hutton (Ordinary People) and Mary Steenburgen (Melvin and Howard).


Jane Fonda accepts the Oscar for her bed-ridden father Henry for his leading role in On Golden Pond. Katharine Hepburn is also honored for On Golden Pond, her fourth statuette, while Jane Fonda loses in the Supporting Actress category to Maureen Stapleton for Reds.


Ghandi sweeps in most categories and a then-very pregnant Meryl Streep wins her second Academy Award (this time for Best Actress) in Sophie’s Choice. Double nominee Jessica Lange wins as Best Supporting Actress for Tootsie, while Best Supporting Actor Louis Gossett, Jr. becomes the first black actor to win since Sidney Poitier in 1963.


Terms of Endearment gets Best Picture with co-stars Shirley MacLaine (Best Actress) and Jack Nicholson (Best Supporting Actor) also honored. Best Supporting Actress winner Linda Hunt (The Year of Living Dangerously) is the only performer to win an Oscar for playing a member of the opposite sex.

Yes Sally Field, Oscar really did like you in Places in the Heart – her second Academy Award. Best Picture: Amadeus. Proof that an Academy Award does not always help your career was F. Murray Abraham’s win as Best Actor for Amadeus.


Despite 11 nominations, Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple fails to wins a single award. Epic Out of Africa is named Best Picture. Sentimental favorite Don Ameche is named Best Supporting Actor for Cocoon.


After receiving an honorary Academy Award two years earlier, Paul Newman takes home the real thing in The Color of Money. Marlee Matlin (Children of a Lesser God) is named Best Actress. Best movie: Platoon.

Snap out of it! Cher wins for Best Actress in Moonstruck, while her on-screen Mom, Olympia Dukakis is cited as Best Supporting Actress. And the male winners are Michael Douglas (Best Actor for Wall Street) and Sean Connery (Best Supporting Actor for The Untouchables).

Dustin Hoffman and Rain Man are victorious with Jodie Foster winning her first Oscar for The Accused. Sigourney Weaver is a two-time loser for Gorillas in the Mist and Working Girl. Best Supporting Actor and Actress: Kevin Kline (A Fish Called Wanda) and Geena Davis (The Accidental Tourist), which early success in theatricals does not mean she will find a hit TV series.

Jessica Tandy (Driving Miss Daisy) and Daniel Day-Lewis (My Left Foot) take top acting prizes. Best Picture: Driving Miss Daisy. Best Supporting Actor: Denzel Washington for Glory.

Kevin Costner rides a wave of victory in Dances with Wolves, while Kathy Bates (Misery) beats the more deserving Angelica Huston (The Grifters) for Best Actress. Joe Pesci’s acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actor in GoodFellas (“It’s my privilege. Thank you.”) was the shortest in history.

Silence of the Lambs is the first film to sweep the big five categories since One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in 1975. Host Billy Crystal saturates the audience with Jack Palance jokes after the actor takes home the Supporting Actor Oscar for City Slickers.


After six failed attempts, Al Pacino steps up to the podium for his role in Scent of a Woman. Gene Hackman (Unforgiven) wins his second trophy, this time in the Supporting Actor category. Biggest surprise: Marisa Tomei is named Best Supporting Actress for comedy My Cousin Vinny. Best Picture: Unforgiven. Best Director: Clint Eastwood for Unforgiven.

It’s finally Steven Spielberg’s year for Holocaust drama Schindler’s List, the first black and white film to be named Best Picture since The Apartment in 1960. Tom Hanks in Philadelphia snags his first of two consecutive Best Actor wins. Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin win for The Piano, and Whoopi Goldberg is the first female host.

Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, come on down for Oscar No. 2. Best Picture: Forrest Gump. Worst Host: David Letterman, who quickly learns that his Top 10 shtick works better in late night talk than on the classy Academy Awards. Best Supporting Actor and Actress: Martin Landau (Ed Wood) and Dianne Wiest (Bullets Over Broadway). Best Actress: Jessica Lange (Oscar No. 2) for Blue Sky, a movie that had been sitting on the shelf for a few years.


Oscar finally shines on Susan Sarandon with a Best Actress win for Dead Man Walking. Mel Gibson, meanwhile, makes two trips to the podium for Braveheart (Best Picture and Director), which receives no acting nominations, and Nicholas Cage is named Best Actor for Leaving Las Vegas. Most enthusiastic presenter: Massimo Troisi for Il Postino.

Juliette Binoche is named Best Supporting Actress for The English Patient over favorite Lauren Bacall in Barbra Streisand’s The Mirror Has Two Faces. Best Picture: The English Patient, which walks away with nine statuettes. Most energetic acceptance speech: Cuba Gooding, Jr. for Best Supporting Actor in Jerry Maguire.


Self-proclaimed King of the World James Cameron wins for Titanic, which walks away with 11 trophies after making history with 14 nominations. Jack Nicholson snags his third Academy Award, this time for As Good As it Gets. Most undeserving win: Helen Hunt for Best Actress in the same movie over the more deserving Judi Dench in Mrs. Brown.

Shakespeare in Love surprises the masses by winning as Best Picture over odds-on favorite Saving Private Ryan. Most obnoxious winner: Roberto Benigni for Life Is Beautiful. Biggest controversy: Director Elia Kazan, who spoke before the House Un-American Activities Committee back in the 1950s, being given a Lifetime Achievement Award

American Beauty wins Best Picture and Beauty star Kevin Spacey snags his second Oscar, this time as Best Actor in American Beauty. Former Beverly Hills, 90210 co-star Hillary Swank wins her first Best Actress trophy for Boys Don’t Cry.

Gladiator, Russell Crowe and Julia Roberts (Erin Brockovich) — come on down! Benicio Del Toro (Traffic) and Marcia Gay Harden (Pollock) snag the supporting Oscars.

Halle Berry in Monster’s Ball becomes the first African American woman to be named Best Actress; Denzel Washington takes home Oscar No. 2 – this time for Best Actor in Training Day. Best Picture: Ron Howard’s A Beautiful Mind.

Nicole Kidman as Best Actress in The Hours was easy to predict, but Adrien Brody as Best Actor and Roman Polanski as Best Director for The Pianist were definite upsets. A standing ovation for Bowling For Columbine director Michael Moore turns into a rampage of boos, meanwhile, following his personal political comments. Best Picture: Chicago.

With 11 trophies, Best Picture The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King ties Ben-Hur and Titanic as the most Oscar nominated film historically. Two performances from Mystic River – Sean Penn (Actor) and Tim Robbins – Supporting Actor win the coveted gold.

Million Dollar Baby wins four Oscars, including Best Picture, Actress (Hillary Swank), Director (Clint Eastwood) and Supporting Actor (Morgan Freeman). Other key winners: Best Actor: Jamie Foxx (Ray) and Best Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett (The Aviator).

Crash pulls and upset and is named Best Picture over sentimental favorite Brokeback Mountain. Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote) and Reese Witherspoon (Walking the Line) are named Best Actor and Actress. Triple nominee George Clooney brings home the gold as Best Supporting Actor for Syriana.

Martin Scorsese wins his first Oscar, with The Departed taking home four trophies including Best Picture. Jennifer Hudson proved there is plenty of life after American Idol with the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in Dreamgirls. And Ellen DeGeneres hosted for the first time

For the first time in 43 years, the Academy presented all four of the acting awards to non-American actors: Daniel Day Lewis for There Will Be Blood (Best Actor), Marion Cotillard for La Vie en rose (Best Actress), Javier Bardem for No Country for Old Men (Best Supporting Actor) and Tilda Swinton for Michael Clayton (Best Supporting Actress).

Slumdog Millionaire walked away with eight Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director (Danny Boyle). Heath Ledger was awarded posthumously as Best Supporting Actor for The Dark Knight.

Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin shared hosting duties; Kathryn Bigelow is the first woman to win an Academy Award for Best Director (for The Hurt Locker); and The Hurt Locker wins six awards, including Best Picture.

The number of Best Picture nominees is increased from five to 10, with The King’s Speech winning the top honor of the evening. The King’s Speech and Inception tied with four Oscars each.

Billy Crystal returned to host for the ninth time. The Artist won five awards, and it was the first silent feature to win an Academy Award for Best Picture since 1927’s Wings, the inaugural winner in 1929.

Best Picture Argo became the fourth film to win Best Picture without a directing nomination (for snubbed Ben Affleck). With his third win for Best Lead Actor, Daniel Day-Lewis became the first three-time winner in that category (and the sixth performer to win at least three acting Oscars). Co-star Sally Field found out that Oscar liked Anne Hathaway better in Les Miserables.

Ellen DeGeneres was a memorable host, handing out pizza to the audience, while the top honors went to 12 Years a Slave for Best Picture, Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) and Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) for Lead Actor and Actress, and Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) and Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) in the supporting acting categories.

Birdman (of The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) and The Grand Budapest Hotel each won four awards, with the former film earning the Best Picture honor. But Birdman star Michael Keaton lost to Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. While J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) and Patricia Arquette (Boyhood) took home the Oscar gold in the supporting acting categories, the small screen was not as welcoming in their short-lived TV series Growing Up Fisher and CSI: Cyber.

Criticized for the lack of diversity (not one of the 20 acting nominations was for a person of color), The Oscars, hosted by Chris Rock, dipped to 34.3 million viewers, its smallest audience in eight years. Although “Spotlight” was named Best Picture, the bigger draw was Leonardo DiCaprio for Lead Actor in the Revenant. It has been a long was for Leo since Growing Pains!