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Would The Real Oscar Please Stand Up . . .

Dyani Ellwood
Dyani Ellwood

Year after year we (the general public), are subjected to watching glistening, well-groomed celeb's addressing the crowds at the annual Academy Awards: clutching their new prized possession - an Oscar - showcasing an all-American smile and delivering a predictable response to their winning.

That small, solid looking statue is weighted down with much more than marble - it's a symbol of pride, passion and determination (yadah yadah yadah). So,what's the story behind this Oscar business - who is Oscar????

It all started in 1928 when MGM's art director, Cedric Gibbons and sculptor George Stanley got together and designed/created an award statue to be presented at the Academy Awards. It was orginally named the 'Academy Award of Merit', it wasn't until the late 1930's that 'Oscar' came into fruition.  It was Academy Librarian, Margaret Herrick, who exclaimed that the statue looked like, 'My Uncle Oscar!'

The name stuck, and in 1939 the name 'Oscar' was officially adopted by the Academy. It hasn't been all rose-tinted and gold-encrusted affairs for ol' Oscar over the last century. During World War two the statues were made from plaster due to the metal shortage - only after the war ended could award winners swap the plaster versions for the real-deal.

Today, Oscars weigh in at 3.85kg and are made from britannium metal and coated in 24 carat gold. There was a time when bronze was used in place of britannium but sculptors found it wasn't smoothed so easily. The Oscar statue itself depicts a crusader knight grasping a sword (I always thought it looked like a mummy from a distance), and it stands on a film reel with five spokes that represent the five organisation branches of the Academy: the Director, the Actors, the Writers, the Producer, and the Technicians.

A black marble base holds it all in place. To be eligible for an Oscar nomination there are four main requirements that come into play:

- Your film must be more than 40 minutes long.

- Its public premiere must have showcased in a movie theater, during that year of the awards ceremony (i.e during 2008, for the 81st Academy Awards).

- The film must have premiered in 35mm or 70mm film format or in 24-frame, progressive scan digital format.

- Lastly, the film must have played in an L.A. County theater, for paid admission, for seven days straight, beginning in the specified calendar year.

Uncle Oscar, sure would be proud!

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