Each day this week we’ll be featuring various factoids and tidbits about the Oscars. We found them interesting and thought you would too! So, for today’s feature, we wanted to talk about lost and/or missing Oscar statuettes. It’s happened more than you think, but I have say, if I ever one won, it would be locked up tighter than Fort Knox!
Over the years AMPAS (Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences) has put into place policies to prevent the Oscar from turning into a mere piece of commerce or movie memorabilia in order to keep to the credo that the only way to get an Oscar is to actually win it. The one exception is if it’s bequeathed to a friend or family member by the actual winner. Since 1950 there has been in place a “Winner’s Agreement”, which is a binding legal document that restricts all winners and their heirs from selling the Oscar statuette. There may be a few Oscars popping up for auction here and there, but AMPAS reports that they’re generally pre-1950 awards. However, the Oscar has found itself in some strange situations, so sit back, relax, and read on about 10 of the weirdest places Oscar has found himself in.
In 1996 Clark Gable’s Oscar for 1934’s It Happened One Night was purchased at auction for $607,500 by an anonymous bidder, anonymous for a short while anyway. Keeping to the tradition of not wanting the Oscar to end up in strange hands, this bidder turned out to be none other than Steven Spielberg who promptly donated this Oscar back to the Academy.
In 1940 Jimmy Stewart won an Oscar for The Philadelphia Story. After the ceremony, he gave it to his father, who displayed it in the front window of the family business J.M. Stewart & Co. Hardware. It stayed there for nearly 20 years.
F. Keogh Gleason worked as a set decorator at MGM for 40 years and ended up winning a total of four Oscars. In the 1980’s, three of those awards were eventually found in a West Hollywood pawnshop called “Elliott Salter Gives Instant Loans” (for his work on An American In Paris, Gigi and Somebody Up There Likes Me). From what the shop owner states, Gleason’s son Pat brought them in for some fast cash. He later came back and reclaimed them.
In 1938 Alice Brady won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her work in In Old Chicago. She was too ill with cancer to attend the actual ceremony, and when her name was read as the winner, a stranger bounded on stage to accept the award on her behalf. The kicker is that she didn’t know this person and her Oscar was never seen again. Sadly, the Academy wasn’t able to reissue her one in time before her eventual death from cancer.
“Who’s the black private dick, that’s a sex machine to all the chicks? Shaft, ya, damn right”. Remember that song? Isaac Hayes wrote and sang the theme to Shaft and won an Oscar for Best Original Song in 1972. That award sits in the entrance to his Memphis restaurant “Music, Food and Passion”.
Shelley Winter’s 1959 Oscar (Best Supporting Actress, The Diary of Anne Frank) was bequeathed to the Anne Frank House Museum in Amsterdam.
Whoopi Goldberg won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her work in Ghost. Although she was reluctant to let it go, it was sent out for cleaning by the Academy to R.S. Owens of Chicago. UPS later told them that it was lost in transit. It was later found, of all places, in a trash bin at the Ontario, CA airport by a security guard and returned to Goldberg. She has said that she’s dropped plans to have it cleaned and it will never leave her house again.
Margaret O’Brien and Shirley Temple both received mini-Oscars for ‘Outstanding Child Actress’. O’Briens’ 1944 Oscar was reportedly stolen by the maid in 1954. The Academy replaced it with a full sized one, and nearly 40 years later at a Pasadena City College swap meet the original turned up! It was returned to O’Brien.
In 2006 William Hurt was moving between homes and reported his 1985 Oscar for Kiss of the Spider Woman stolen during the move. It was later found by the police in a ditch, but it was badly damaged. Hurt has yet to take the Academy up on their offer to have it repaired.
Nestor Almendros, an acclaimed Spanish Director of Photography, was nominated in 1979 for his work on Days of Thunder. Apparently, he didn’t want to go to the ceremony, thinking the other DP’s and films had a better chance of winning. Close friend Scotty Bowers pulled him into the car and they barely made it to the ceremony, just as the doors were being closed. Being grateful for his friends urging him to go, he bequeathed the Oscar to Bowers before his (Almendros) death due to complication of AIDS in 1992. Bowers, who is a caterer, states he keeps it in his home, loaning it out once in awhile for parties.
What do you think? Would you lock yours up if you won? Would you display it for all the world to see? Let us know below, and come join us in the Forum HERE to talk about all things Oscars! Don’t forget to vote in the Oscar polls too!