Hollywood History: Cedric Gibbons and The Academy Award

In all fairness, Cedric Gibbons deserves the title of both "Art Director" and "Designer" for  his early Hollywood contribution as the official art director of  over 150 films beginning as early as 1919.  After assisting art director Hugo Ballin he soon signed with MGM for a career that would span 32 years.  Due to a contractual stipulation with MGM - which gave him credit for every MGM picture released in the United States - he was noted as art director for 1,500 films by the time he retired in 1956.


Apropos for this weekend, Mr. Cedric Gibbons is credited for overseeing the design of the Academy Award statuette in 1929 - this would be an award that he himself would be nominated for 39 times, winning 11 Oscars for films such as Pride and Prejudice (1940), Little Women (1949), An American in Paris (1951), and Somebody Up There Likes Me (1957).

The Oscar, officially named the Academy Award of Merit, stands 13 1/2 inches tall and weighs 8 1/2 pounds and still remains true to the original design by Cedric Gibbons.

Designed by Gibbons as a knight holding a crusader's sword standing atop a film reel for the first Academy Awards in  1929.
It is believed that his motion picture influence helped to inspired theatre architecture from the 1930s through the 1950s. The style, referred to as Art Deco and his influence can still be seen today in various theatres around southern Los Angeles.

...now the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, CA
It is still argued to this day that he may have been the most influential art director in the history of American cinema.   It's undeniable that Gibbons had an indelible affect on the history of Hollywood and it's only fitting that this weekend we celebrate one of his famous contributions - The Golden Man himself, Oscar.

Some fun Oscar facts:

The first recipient of the Academy Award of Merit went to Emil Jannings, best actor in The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh

The statue was sculpted by LA artist George Stanley

The award has been handed out 2,701 times

While the true origins of the nickname "Oscar" are not clear, Margaret Herrick is said to have thought that the statue looked like her Uncle Oscar upon seeing the award for the first time.  The Academy didn't officially adopt the nickname until 1939.


If you are in Los Angeles, be sure to check out the Bob Peak: Creating the Modern Movie Poster exhibit at the Academy building's 4th floor gallery; details here.


For the Oscar fashionistas out there, check out some facts about Natalie Portman's Oscar season wardrobe courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter:

Natalie has made 17 red-carpet appearances to promote Black Swan

She has worn dresses form 10 different designers

She's work the likes of Lanvin, Jason Wu, Azzaro, Rodarte, and Michael Kors more than once

She's carried a Dior clutch 11 times (remember, she's the face of Miss Dior Cherie fragrance)

Considered her "stand out" dress thus far - the Viktor & Rolf at the Globes earlier this year.



Special thanks again to L.A. La Land.

1 comment:

Meredith L. Grau said...

I like the Bette story better, haha. Let's go to the poster show!!! ;)

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