Film News

Factbox : Key historical facts about the Academy Awards

(Reuters) - The 85th Academy Awards, the highest honors in the film industry, will be handed out on February 24 during a live televised ceremony at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre attended by 3,300 guests.

A couple is silhouetted against a golden drape overlooking red carpet preparations ahead of the 85th Academy Awards in Los Angeles, California February 21, 2013. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

The Oscars show is hosted for the first time by writer, actor and singer Seth MacFarlane, best known for creating the animated TV shows “Family Guy” and “American Dad.”

The winners of Oscars in 24 categories are decided by about 5,800 movie industry professionals who are members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Following are some historical facts about the Oscars:

About 270 people attended the first Academy Awards ceremony on May 16, 1929, in the Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Tickets costs $5 each and the ceremony lasted 15 minutes with 15 statuettes awarded.

The awards were no surprise as they were decided three months earlier but that changed the following year when the Academy decided to keep the results secret until the ceremony.

The Best Actress award went to American Janet Gaynor for her performances in “Sunrise” and “Seventh Heaven,” both from 1927, and “Street Angel” from 1928.

The Best Actor award went to Swiss-born Emil Jannings for “The Last Command” and “The Way of All Flesh,” but he had to return to Europe before the ceremony so received his trophy early, making his the first Oscar presented.

Warner Bros. musical “The Jazz Singer” received a special award as the “pioneering outstanding talking picture, which has revolutionized the industry.” The Academy ruled it was ineligible for the Best Picture award won by “Wings” because it would be unfair to let sound films compete with silents.

1939 was one of the most celebrated years in American film history, with 10 films nominated for Best Picture including “The Wizard of Oz,” “Stagecoach” “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” “Wuthering Heights,” and “Goodbye, Mr. Chips.” The winner was “Gone with the Wind” that ran for almost four hours and was the longest feature released up to that time. It was also the first color film to win the Best Picture trophy.

“Gone With The Wind” earned 13 nominations and won eight awards (and two special citations) - both records for the time. It held the record for Oscars until “Gigi” won nine in 1958.

The 1959 epic “Ben Hur” set a new record by winning 11 Oscars which was matched in 1997 by “Titanic.” “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” also won 11 Oscars in 2003.

In 1953, the first televised Oscars ceremony was held, with Bob Hope acting as the master of ceremonies, and since 1969 the show has been broadcast internationally.

The first special award to honor a foreign language motion picture was given in 1947 to Italian film “Shoeshine.” It was not until 1956 that Foreign Language Film became an annual category.

The Animated Feature Film award was added in 2001, with “Shrek” winning the Oscar.

Since 1941 the Academy has adopted a sealed-envelope system for announcing the results.

In September 2012 the Academy announced a new online voting system to run parallel to the traditional paper ballots. Until then, Oscar ballots were mailed around the world to Academy members with results tabulated by hand by accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Reporting By David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit; Editing by Belinda Goldsmith and Mohammad Zargham