On March 19, 1953, for the first time, audiences are able to sit in their living rooms and watch as the movie world’s most prestigious honors, the Academy Awards, are given out at the RKO Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, California.
Organized in May 1927, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was envisioned as a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the film industry. The first Academy Awards were handed out in May 1929, in a ceremony and banquet held in the Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. The level of suspense was nonexistent, however, as the winners had already been announced several months earlier. For the next 10 years, the Academy gave the names of the winners to the newspapers for publication at 11 p.m. on the night of the awards ceremony; this changed after one paper broke the tacit agreement and published the results in the evening edition, available before the ceremony began. A sealed envelope system began the next year, and endures to this day, making Oscar night Hollywood’s most anticipated event of the year.
Public interest in the Oscars was high from the beginning, and from the second year on the ceremony was covered in a live radio broadcast. The year 1953 marked the first time that the Academy Awards were broadcast on the fledgling medium of television. The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) TV network carried the 25th annual awards ceremony live from Hollywood’s RKO Pantages Theatre. Bob Hope was the master of ceremonies, while Fredric March, a two-time Academy Award winner for Best Actor (for 1932’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and 1946’s The Best Years of Our Lives), presented the awards. The statuette for Best Picture went to Cecil B. DeMille’s The Greatest Show on Earth, while John Ford won Best Director for The Quiet Man. Winners in the top two acting categories were Gary Cooper (High Noon) and Shirley Booth (Come Back, Little Sheba).
Hope, a star of stage and screen who tirelessly performed in United Service Organization (USO) shows for American troops during World War II, would become a mainstay of the new TV medium. He was also the most venerated Academy Awards host, playing MC no fewer than 18 times between 1939 and 1977. NBC broadcast the Oscars until 1961, when the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) took over for the next decade, including the first awards broadcast in color in 1966. Although NBC briefly regained the show in the early 1970s, ABC came out on top again in 1976 and has broadcast every Academy Awards show since. The network is under contract to continue showing the Oscars until 2028.
Ratings for the Academy Awards have been notoriously uneven, with larger audiences tending to tune in when box-office hits are nominated for high-profile awards such as Best Picture. When Titanic won big in 1998, for example, the Oscar telecast drew 55 million viewers; the triumph of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in 2004 drew 44 million. The 80th Academy Awards ceremony, held in February 2008, drew the lowest ratings in the history of the broadcast up until that point, with a total of about 32 million viewers–just 18.7 percent of America’s homes–tuned in to the telecast. Analysts blamed the relative obscurity of the Best Picture nominees—the winner, No Country For Old Men, made a relatively puny $64 million at the box office—and the lingering effects of a Hollywood writers’ strike for the poor viewer turnout.
Oscars on the Air
In homage to the upcoming Academy Awards, we look back to earlier Academy Awards ceremonies. Here we highlight the historic role of radio in one of Hollywood’s most anticipated events of the year.
When the first Academy Awards were handed out in May 1929 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, the winners had already been announced three months earlier. The following year, due to increased public interest, the ceremony was partially covered in a live radio broadcast.
In anticipation of the highly celebrated event for the 5th Academy Awards, radio station KECA presented a half-hour program called “Hollywood on the Air,” broadcast from Radio Pictures Studio in Hollywood on November 17, 1932, the night before the ceremony. The program featured then Academy President Conrad Nagel, talking about the organization’s humble beginnings.
The Margaret Herrick Library’s Special Collections contains the audio archives of the Academy Awards, beginning with the radio broadcast from 1938, the 11th Academy Awards ceremony. The banquet was held on February 23, 1939 at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, with Academy President Frank Capra as the evening’s host. Commentator George Fisher from radio station KHJ narrated an unauthorized live broadcast of the ceremony that within twelve minutes of commencing was shut down by Biltmore Hotel personnel.
Broadcasters George Fisher and Don Kurlen continue to list the parade of celebrities in attendance, and make this comment on seeing Spencer Tracy at a banquet table.
Radio allowed listeners to be invited into the inner circle of the renowned show. For the first time for the 1944 (17th) annual Academy Awards, the ceremony was broadcast nationally by the ABC network.
On March 13, 1947, the Academy moved its show into the Shrine Civic Auditorium from Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. To fill the approximately 6,700 seats, the Academy sold tickets to the general public for the first time, while ABC broadcast the ceremonies to more than 40 million radio listeners, according to the Los Angeles Times.
A new era had begun when on March 19, 1953, NBC televised the Oscars for the first time, appropriately on the 25th anniversary of the Awards. Even after the advent of television, the Academy Awards show was simultaneously broadcast on radio as late as 1968.
On Oscar’s 70th anniversary and at the request of the Board of Governors, Academy Award-winning composer Jerry Goldsmith wrote "Fanfare for Oscar," an official opening theme for the annual Academy Awards presentations. Goldsmith, a classically trained composer known for his lush orchestral themes, was an Academy Award winner for The Omen (1976) and an 18-time Oscar nominee. On March 23, 1998, “Fanfare for Oscar” was performed by an orchestra in front of a live audience. At the time, Goldsmith said of the score, “The end result of the 45-second composition is a melding of the Hollywood of the past, the Hollywood of the present, and the Hollywood of the future.”
On This Day: Academy Awards Televised for First Time
NBC-TV&rsquos broadcast of the 25th Annual Academy Awards featured ceremonies held in both Hollywood and New York City. Bob Hope hosted the main Oscars ceremony at Hollywood&rsquos RKO Pantages Theater, while Conrad Nagel led a smaller ceremony at the NBC International Theater in Manhattan.
The six major categories&mdashBest Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress&mdashfeatured winners from six different films, the first time in Oscar history this occurred. It has been repeated just twice, in 1956 and 2005.
Crowd-pleasing circus drama &ldquoThe Greatest Show on Earth,&rdquo directed by 71-year-old cinema pioneer Cecil B. DeMille, won Best Picture over heavily favored &ldquoHigh Noon,&rdquo which featured Best Actor winner Gary Cooper.
Described by Time magazine as a &ldquoshotgun wedding between the 25-year-old Oscars ceremony and its child bride, television,&rdquo the broadcast cost NBC-TV&rsquos parent company, the Radio Corporation of America, a monumental $250,000. The show attracted 34 million viewers.
Americans had been able to listen to the Oscars since 1930, when the second show was broadcast on radio. The first ceremony to be televised in color took place in 1966.
But not much has changed since Time magazine&rsquos 1953 description of the scene on Oscars night outside the Hollywood RKO Theater: &ldquoklieg lights crisscrossing the wet night sky and Cadillacs disgorging jeweled cargoes.&rdquo
The Grammys had their origin in the Hollywood Walk of Fame project in the 1950s.   As recording executives on the Walk of Fame committee compiled a list of significant recording industry people who might qualify for a Walk of Fame star, they realized that many leading people in their business would not earn a star on Hollywood Boulevard. They determined to rectify this by creating awards given by their industry similar to the Oscars and the Emmys. After deciding to go forward with such awards, a question remained what to call them. One working title was the ‘Eddie’, to honor Thomas Edison, the inventor of the phonograph. Eventually, the term ‘Grammy’ was agreed upon in tribute to Emile Berliner’s gramophone. Grammys were first awarded for achievements in 1958.   
The first award ceremony was held simultaneously in two locations on May 4, 1959, the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, and the Park Sheraton Hotel in New York City, New York,  with 28 Grammys awarded. The number of awards given grew, at one time reaching over 100, and fluctuated over the years with categories added and removed.  The second Grammy Awards, also held in 1959, was the first ceremony to be televised,  but the ceremony was not aired live until the 13th Annual Grammy Awards in 1971. 
The gold-plated trophies, each depicting a gilded gramophone, are made and assembled by hand by Billings Artworks in Ridgway, Colorado. In 1990, the original Grammy design was reworked, changing the traditional soft lead for a stronger alloy less prone to damage, making the trophy bigger and grander.  Billings developed Grammium, a zinc alloy which they trademarked.  Trophies engraved with each recipient's name are not available until after the award announcements, so "stunt" trophies are re-used each year for the ceremony broadcast.  
By February 2009, some 7,578 Grammy trophies had been awarded. 
The "General Field" are four awards which are not restricted by music genre.
- The Album of the Year award is presented to the performer, songwriter(s), and/or production team of a full album if other than the performer.
- The Record of the Year award is presented to the performer and/or production team of a single song if other than the performer.
- The Song of the Year award is presented to the songwriter(s) of a single song.
- The Best New Artist award is presented to a promising breakthrough performer (or performers) who in the eligibility year releases the first recording that establishes their public identity (which is not necessarily their first proper release).
Among three artists who have won all four awards, two won all four at once: Christopher Cross in 1981, and Billie Eilish in 2020, making her, at age 18, the youngest artist to do so. Adele won the Best New Artist award in 2009 and her other three awards in 2012 and 2017.
Other awards are given for performance and production in specific genres and for other contributions such as artwork and video. Special awards are also given for longer-lasting contributions to the music industry.
Because of the large number of award categories (78 in 2012, 81 in 2013, and 82 in 2014), and a desire to feature several performances by various artists, only awards with the most popular interest - typically about 10 to 12, including the four general field categories and one or two categories in the most popular music genres (i.e., pop, rock, country, and rap) - are presented directly at the televised award ceremony. Most other Grammy trophies are presented in a pre-telecast "Premiere Ceremony" in the afternoon before the Grammy Awards telecast.
2012 category restructuring Edit
On April 6, 2011, the Recording Academy announced a significant overhaul of many Grammy Award categories for 2012.  The number of categories was cut from 109 to 78. The most substantial change was eliminating the distinction between male and female soloists and between collaborations and duo/groups in various genre fields (pop, rock, rhythm and blues [R&B], country, and rap). Additionally, several instrumental soloist categories were discontinued recordings in these categories now fall under general categories for best solo performances.
In the rock field, the hard rock and metal album categories were combined. The Best Rock Instrumental Performance category also was eliminated due to a waning number of entries.
In R&B, the distinction between best contemporary R&B album and other R&B albums has been eliminated, consolidated into one Best R&B Album category. 
In rap, the categories for best rap soloist and best rap duo or group have been merged into the new Best Rap Performance category.
The roots category had the most eliminations. Up through 2011, there were separate categories for regional American music forms, such as Hawaiian, Native American, and Zydeco/Cajun music. A consistently low number of entries in these categories lead the Recording Academy to combine these music variations into a new Best Regional Roots Music Album, including polka, which had lost its category in 2009.  
In same-genre fields, the traditional and contemporary blues categories and the traditional and contemporary folk categories each were consolidated into one per genre, due to the number of entries and the challenges to distinguish between contemporary and traditional blues and folk songs. In the world music field, the traditional and contemporary categories also were merged.
In the classical field, its main category Best Classical Album was discontinued because most recipients in the category had also won in other classical categories for the same album. Classical recordings are now eligible for the main Album of the Year category.
A few minor name changes were also made to better reflect the nature of the separate categories. The Recording Academy determined that the word "gospel" in the gospel genre field tends to connote images and sounds of traditional soul gospel to the exclusion of Contemporary Christian Music (CCM). Therefore, the field and some categories were renamed as Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music. 
Since 2012 Edit
Since 2012, small adjustments have been made to lists of categories and genre fields. The number of categories has risen from 78 in 2012 to 84 since 2017.  In 2020, amid the George Floyd protests, several urban, rap, and Latin music categories were renamed. 
Members of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), both media companies and individuals, may nominate recordings for consideration. Entries are made online and a physical copy of the work is sent to NARAS. When a work is entered, review sessions are held that involve over 150 recording industry experts, to determine that the work has been entered in the correct category.
The resulting lists of eligible entries are then circulated to voting members, each who may vote to nominate in the general fields (Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist) and in up to nine out of 30 other fields on their ballots. The five recordings that earn the most votes in each category become the nominees, while in some categories (craft and specialized categories) review committees determine the final five nominees.  There may be over five nominees if a tie occurs in the nomination process.
Although members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences generally are invited to screenings or are sent DVDs of films nominated for Oscars, NARAS members do not receive nominated recordings, but instead receive access to a private online listening service.
After nominees have been determined, final voting ballots are sent to NARAS voting members, who may then vote in the general fields and in up to nine of the 30 fields. Members are encouraged, but not required, to vote only in their fields of expertise. Ballots are tabulated secretly by the independent accounting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu.  After vote tabulation, winners are announced at the Grammy Awards. The recording with the most votes in a category wins and it is possible to have a tie (in which case the two [or more] nominees who tie are considered winners). Winners are presented with a Grammy Award those who do not win receive a medal for their nomination.
In both voting rounds, Academy members are required to vote solely based upon quality, without consideration for sales, chart performance, personal friendships, regional preferences or company loyalty. Gifts may not be accepted. Members are urged to vote in a manner that preserves the integrity of the Academy and their member community. Although registered media companies may submit entries, they have no vote in the process.
The eligibility period for the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards was September 1, 2019 to August 31, 2020.
In many categories, certificates are presented to those ineligible for a Grammy award but who did contribute to a winning recording. These certificates are known as Participation Certificates or Winners Certificates. Those eligible for a certificate can apply for one in the weeks after the Grammy ceremony.
From time to time, a special Grammy Award of merit is awarded to recognize "ongoing contributions and influence in the recording field".  It has come to be known as the Grammy Legend Award and the Grammy Living Legend Award at different ceremonies. As of 2018, [update] only fourteen solo musicians and one band have received this award.
The Salute to Industry Icons Award honors those who have made innovative contributions to the music industry.   Recipients include:
In past decades, remarks given by the president of The Recording Academy has been followed by an In Memoriam segment. The segment was aired in the broadcast's final hour, and later was preceded by the broadcast's final commercial break.
Before 1971, Grammy Award ceremonies were held in different locations on the same day. Originally New York City and Los Angeles were the host cities. Chicago joined as a host city in 1962 and Nashville became a fourth location in 1965.
The 1971 ceremony at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles, was the first to take place in one location. In 1972, the ceremony was then moved to Madison Square Garden's Felt Forum in New York City, then moved in 1973 to Nashville's Tennessee Theatre. From 1974 to 2003, the Grammys were held in various venues in New York City and Los Angeles, including New York's Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall and Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium, Staples Center and Hollywood Palladium.
In 2000, the Staples Center became the permanent home of the award ceremonies. The Grammy Museum was built across the street from Staples Center in LA Live to preserve the history of the Grammy Awards. Embedded on the sidewalks on the museum streets are bronze disks, similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, to honor each year's top winners, Record of the Year, Best New Artist, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year. Since 2000, the Grammy Awards have taken place outside of Los Angeles only twice, with New York City's Madison Square Garden hosting the awards in 2003 and in 2018. 
The annual awards ceremony at the Staples Center requires that sports teams like the Los Angeles Kings, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Sparks play an extended length of road games.
With 31 Grammy Awards, Sir Georg Solti is the artist with the most Grammy wins.  Beyonce is the biggest winner among female artists with 28 awards.  U2, with 22 Grammy Awards, holds the record for most awards won by a group. 
Prominent recording artists and music journalists have criticized the Grammy Awards over time
When Pearl Jam won a Grammy for the Best Hard Rock Performance in 1996, the band's lead singer Eddie Vedder commented on stage: "I don't know what this means. I don't think it means anything."  In 2008 Glen Hansard, leader of the Irish rock group The Frames, stated that the Grammys represent something outside of the real world of music "that's fully industry based". He said he was not that interested in attending that year's ceremony, even though he had been nominated for two awards.  Maynard James Keenan, lead singer of progressive rock band Tool, did not attend the Grammy Awards ceremony to receive one of their awards, explaining that: 
I think the Grammys are nothing more than some gigantic promotional machine for the music industry. They cater to a low intellect and they feed the masses. They don't honor the arts or the artist for what he created. It's the music business celebrating itself. That's basically what it's all about.
The Grammys have also been criticized for generally awarding or nominating more commercially successful albums rather than critically successful ones.   In 1991, Sinead O'Connor became the first musician to refuse a Grammy, boycotting the ceremony after being nominated for Record of the Year, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Performance. O'Connor would go on to win the latter award.  She said her reasoning came from the Grammys' extreme commercialism. 
Artist snubs Edit
The Grammys also have been criticized for snubbing awards to some nominated artists. At the 38th Annual Grammy Awards, artist Mariah Carey was nominated for six awards for her album Daydream, including Album of the Year and Record of the Year for her single "One Sweet Day". Although critics believed Carey would be "cleaning up" that year, Carey ultimately lost in all her nominated categories that night, much to the shock of critics and Carey herself.  In 2011, Los Angeles Times journalist Randall Roberts criticized the exclusion of Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy from Album of the Year nominations for the 54th Grammy Awards. He described West's album as "the most critically acclaimed album of the year, a career-defining record".  Roberts went on to criticize the Grammy Awards for being "mired in the past" and out of touch with "new media" and trends among music listeners such as music sharing, stating: 
The major nominations for the 54th annual awards clearly show that the recording academy has been working overtime to be all-inclusive, but more significantly, they also reveal a deep chasm between its goals and the listening habits of the general population. The focus is still on the old music industry model of cash-cow hits, major label investments and commercial radio.
In an article for Time, journalist Touré also responded to the snub and expressed general displeasure with the awards, stating "I don't pretend to understand the Grammys. I have never been able to discern a consistent logic around who gets nominated or who gets statues. I comprehend the particular logic of the Oscars, but not the big awards for music. My normal state of confusion around what drives Grammy decisions was exponentialized this week when, to the shock of many, Kanye's masterpiece My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was not nominated for a Grammy for Album of the Year."  He went on to compare understanding the Grammy Awards to Kremlinology and commented on The Recording Academy's exclusion of more "mature" hip hop albums as Album of the Year nominees, noting that it occasionally opts to nominate "pop-friendly" hip hop albums instead. 
In a 2011 profile for The New York Times after the 53rd Grammy Awards, frontman Justin Vernon of indie band Bon Iver was asked about the Grammys and how he would react to a nomination for his group, to which he responded: 
You know, I was thinking about that a couple of months ago, someone asked me that, and I was like "I would go and I would" – and I don't think the Bon Iver record is the kind of record that would get nominated for a Grammy – "I would get up there and be like, 'This is for my parents, because they supported me,' because I know they would think it would be stupid of me not to go up there. But I kinda felt like going up there and being like: "Everyone should go home, this is ridiculous. You should not be doing this. We should not be gathering in a big room and looking at each other and pretending that this is important." That's what I would say.
He reaffirmed this sentiment and commented about the Grammys, saying: 
[Ninety-eight] percent of the people in that room, their art is compromised by the fact that they're thinking that, and that they're hoping to get that award. And who is that award given by? It's like they think it's literally handed down by the musical-history gods. And I don't know who the voters are. Like, I have a friend who's a voter who was like, "I had to be a voter because I don't trust the other voters." And I was like, "Me either!" And it's just not important and people spend too much time thinking about it.
Bon Iver subsequently received four nominations in November for the 54th Grammy Awards.  After winning, Vernon said in his acceptance, "It's really hard to accept this award. There's so much talent out here [. ] and there's a lot of talent that's not here tonight. It's also hard to accept because you know, when I started to make songs I did it for the inherent reward of making songs, so I'm a little bit uncomfortable up here." 
In his article "Everything Old Is Praised Again", Jon Caramanica of The New York Times criticized Grammy voters for being "conservative" and disregarding more "forward-looking" music, and wrote in response to the 54th Grammy Awards, "for the umpteenth time, the Grammys went with familiarity over risk, bestowing album of the year honors (and several more) on an album that reinforced the values of an older generation suspicious of change."  He cited the Grammy successes of Lauryn Hill's The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998), Norah Jones' Come Away with Me (2003), and Adele's 21 (2011) as examples of "the Grammys drop[ping] a boatload of awards on a young female singer-songwriter and her breakthrough album". Of Kanye West's absence from the ceremony, Caramanica stated, "He didn't even bother to show up for the broadcast, which was well enough because hip-hop was almost completely marginalized." 
In an article for The Huffington Post, music executive and author Steve Stoute criticized the Recording Academy and the Grammy Awards for having "lost touch with contemporary popular culture" and noted "two key sources" for it: "(1) over-zealousness to produce a popular show that is at odds with its own system of voting and (2) fundamental disrespect of cultural shifts as being viable and artistic."  Stoute accused them of snubbing artists with more cultural impact, citing respective losses by the critical and commercial successes in Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP (2000) and Kanye West's Graduation (2007) in the Album of the Year category, and stated: 
As an institution that celebrates artistic works of musicians, singers, songwriters, producers and technical specialists, we have come to expect that the Grammys upholds all of the values that reflect the very best in music that is born from our culture. Unfortunately, the awards show has become a series of hypocrisies and contradictions, leaving me to question why any contemporary popular artist would even participate. [. ] While there is no doubt in my mind of the artistic talents of Steely Dan or Herbie Hancock, we must acknowledge the massive cultural impact of Eminem and Kanye West and how their music is shaping, influencing and defining the voice of a generation. It is this same cultural impact that acknowledged the commercial and critical success of Michael Jackson's Thriller in 1984.
In 2020, Canadian artist Abel Tesfaye, known by his stage name The Weeknd, was completely shut out from the Grammys when his fourth studio album, After Hours, received no nominations at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards. This came as a surprise to critics, fans, and Tesfaye himself, who had a successful run in 2020 with the success of both his album and the single "Blinding Lights". Tesfaye responded by social media calling the Grammys "corrupt".  Speculation arose that the announcement of his then-upcoming Super Bowl performance, as well as the discrepancy of being nominated as pop music versus R&B, contributed to the snubs.  Harvey Mason, Jr. responded by saying:
We understand that The Weeknd is disappointed at not being nominated. I was surprised and can empathize with what he's feeling. His music this year was excellent, and his contributions to the music community and broader world are worthy of everyone’s admiration. We were thrilled when we found out he would be performing at the upcoming Super Bowl and we would have loved to have him also perform on the Grammy stage the weekend before. Unfortunately, every year, there are fewer nominations than the number of deserving artists. But as the only peer-voted music award, we will continue to recognize and celebrate excellence in music while shining a light on the many amazing artists that make up our global community. To be clear, voting in all categories ended well before The Weeknd’s performance at the Super Bowl was announced, so in no way could it have affected the nomination process. All Grammy nominees are recognized by the voting body for their excellence, and we congratulate them all. 
The Grammys' eligibility period runs from October 1st of one year until September 30th of the next year.  Records released in the last quarter of a given year are not eligible for that year's awards (the submissions and first round ballots are underway at that time). Fans perennially report a mistaken notion that a favorite artist has been snubbed for example, Adele's album 25 was released in November 2015 and thus was ineligible for nomination for the 2015 awards, despite its massive sales.  Conversely, the Grammys often recognize work more than a year after it was released. Taylor Swift's 1989 won Album of the Year in 2016, even though the album came out in October 2014 likewise, Adele's 25 had been released in November 2015 but received its Album of the Year award in 2017. 
Accusations of racial bias Edit
The Grammys have also been accused of being unfavorable and racist to Black recording artists. In a 2017 interview Canadian artist Drake accused the awards of seeing him only as a rapper and not as a pop-music artist due to his previous work and heritage. He criticized the snubbing of "One Dance" for the Record of the Year award and the nomination of "Hotline Bling" for Best Rap Song and Best Rap/Sung Performance, despite it not being a rap song.  The Atlantic ' s Spencer Kornhaber accused the Grammys of "sidelining a black visionary work in favor of a white traditionalist one".  Drake did not attend the 2017 awards ceremony where he was nominated. He had a performance in Manchester, England on February 12, 2017, the same night as the ceremony. Frank Ocean was vocal about boycotting the same Grammy Awards and did not submit his album Blonde for award consideration as a protest. 
The Grammys were also criticized after the 59th Annual Grammy Awards when Adele's 25 won Album of the Year over Beyoncé's album Lemonade, which many music publications believed should have won the award. Steve Knopper of Rolling Stone magazine believed that she lost due to the Grammy voters being all white males and as well as for her pro-Black performance during the Super Bowl 50 halftime show.  USA Today also criticized Beyoncé's loss stating that "Black artists have struggled to win album of the year". They also felt 25 won only due to the album's record-breaking sales rather than having cultural significance and the large impact that Lemonade had in 2016.  Adele also expressed that Lemonade should have won over her for Album of the Year, stating in her acceptance speech:
I can't possibly accept this award. And I'm very humbled and I'm very grateful and gracious. But my artist of my life is Beyoncé. And this album to me, the Lemonade album, is just so monumental. Beyoncé, it's so monumental. And so well thought out, and so beautiful and soul-baring and we all got to see another side to you that you don't always let us see. And we appreciate that. And all us artists here adore you. You are our light. 
In 2019, for the first time, rap artists won major award nominations outside the rap categories when Childish Gambino won the first Song and Record of the Year awards ever for a rap song.  Hispanic and Latino Americans are more under-represented at the Grammy Awards. Hispanic and Latinos are the biggest minority in the United States.  
Issues with female artists Edit
The Grammys have also been criticized for their treatment of female artists. Notably at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards in 2018, New Zealand singer Lorde made headlines after turning down an offer to perform at the ceremony. She suggested that she was invited to perform alongside several other artists in a tribute to Tom Petty but was refused a solo slot, despite being nominated for the Album of the Year Award and stated that each male nominee was allowed a solo performance. Lorde's mother also criticized the Grammys, pointing out an article that only nine percent of nominees at the previous six Grammy Awards were women.  After the 60th ceremony, several media outlets reported that the ceremony had failed women, specifically pointing to the most nominated female artist SZA who failed to win in any of her five nominated categories, and to the Best Pop Solo Performance category which included four female nominees but was won by Ed Sheeran.  In an interview, Neil Portnow, President of the Recording Academy attracted controversy by stating that female artists need to "step up" in order to win awards. Portnow's comments drew criticism from many female musicians including Pink, Katy Perry, Vanessa Carlton, Sheryl Crow, Iggy Azalea, Halsey and Charli XCX.  They also prompted the hashtag #GrammysSoMale on social media. 
Before the 61st Annual Grammy Awards in 2019, singer Ariana Grande decided not to perform or attend that year's ceremony over a disagreement about the song choices for her performance. An anonymous source told Variety that Grande felt "insulted" when producers refused to let the singer perform her latest single "7 Rings". They compromised by having her perform the song as part of a medley, but the condition that the producers choose the second song lead Grande to withdraw from the show. The source said that the same stipulations were not imposed on other performers.  Grande later accused Grammy producer Ken Ehrlich of lying about why she dropped out of the show. Ehrlich had said that Grande "felt it was too late for her to pull something together". Grande responded:
I can pull together a performance over night and you know that, Ken it was when my creativity and self expression was stifled by you, that I decided not to attend. I hope the show is exactly what you want it to be and more. 
Despite the controversy, Grande won for Best Pop Vocal Album and in 2020 performed at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards when nominated for five awards, including Album of the Year, but won none.  Despite past controversies, female artists dominated the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards, with the big four awards being awarded entirely to women. Several women also broke records at that ceremony. 
2020 controversy Edit
Recording Academy CEO Deborah Dugan was placed on leave on January 16, 2020, after a complaint of bullying from a member of staff (according to an anonymous New York Times source), ten days before the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards.  Dugan had complained internally, alleging a broken system of voting that was subject to conflicts of interest and unnecessary spending.  On the nominations for the 61st Annual Grammy Awards, Dugan stated that the voting process was an "outrageous conflict of interest" with several nominated artists sitting on the voting boards of their prospective categories. She claimed that "one artist who initially ranked 18 out of 20 in the 2019 'Song of the Year' category ended up with a nomination". She also claimed that a few artists like Ed Sheeran and Ariana Grande had the votes to be nominated for the category, but were ultimately omitted. 
in 2020, comedy star Tiffany Haddish turned down the invitation to host the 63rd Grammy pre-telecast premier ceremony when they said that she would have to pay her own way through. In an exclusive interview with Variety, Haddish revealed that she was told to cover the cost of hair, makeup and wardrobe for the three-hour event, adding, “I don't know if this might mean I might not get nominated ever again, but I think it's disrespectful.” When contacted, The Recording Academy explained that the Premiere Ceremony is not a CBS program and is hosted by the Academy, a not-for-profit organization, meaning that artists, hosts and performers have to perform free every year. They also noted that the issue would have no impact in Haddish's future nomination. 
Before the first live Grammys telecast in 1971 on ABC, a series of filmed annual specials in the 1960s called The Best on Record was broadcast on NBC. The first Grammy Award telecast took place on the night of November 29, 1959, as an episode of the NBC anthology series NBC Sunday Showcase, which normally was devoted to plays, original TV dramas, and variety shows. Until 1971, awards ceremonies were held in both New York and Los Angeles, with winners accepting at one of the two venues. Television producer Pierre Cossette bought the rights to broadcast the ceremony from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and organized the first live telecast.  CBS bought the rights in 1973 after moving the ceremony to Nashville, Tennessee the American Music Awards were created for ABC by the late Dick Clark as a result.
The Recording Academy announced on June 21, 2011, that it had reached a new deal with CBS to keep the awards show on the network for another 10 years. As part of the new contract, the network would also air a "nominations concert" special in the last week of November, where nominations would be released during a special exclusive to CBS, rather than at a traditional early-morning press conference to a multi-network press pool. This was ended after the 2016 concert due to low ratings and criticism about the announcement format, and as of the 2017 nominations, they have been revealed in a roundtable conversation with Recording Academy representatives during CBS This Morning. In 2016, the Grammys became the first awards show to be broadcast live in all US territories, and for decades, alongside the Academy Awards, Primetime Emmy Awards and Tony Awards, the shows have aired live in over 150 countries worldwide.
From 2004 to 2019, the Grammys were held on the second Sunday of February (the week after the Super Bowl), with two exceptions: if that day was February 14 (Valentine's Day), it was moved to the following day if it was a Winter Olympics year, it was held earlier on the last Sunday of January (the week before the Super Bowl). Starting in 2020, the Academy Awards ceremony would move back to the second Sunday of February, forcing the Grammys to move back to the last Sunday of January to avoid conflict with either the Oscars or the Super Bowl.  To allow enough time for preparation, the cutoff date for eligible recordings would move from September 30 to August 31. This change reduced the eligibility period for the 2020 awards to eleven months (October 1, 2018 – August 31, 2019), a month shorter than usual. 
Viewership by year Edit
|Year||Viewers (Millions)||Rating/Share (Households)||Average Ad Price (30s)||Source(s)|
|2011||26.55||10.0/25||$630,000||  |
|2014||28.51||9.9/25||$800,000–$850,000||  |
When the televised Grammys came into renown in 1975, a relationship between Grammy Award winners and subsequent record sales began.  However, it was not until after 1984 that Grammy recipients' records showed a substantial increase in sales. This was largely due to an agreement made by NARAS and the National Association of Record Merchandisers (NARM). Under this agreement "record labels provided stickers, posters and other point-of-purchase material emblazoned 'Grammy Nominee' or 'Grammy Award Winner' that retailers could use to improve marketing effects." 
The internet is reeling from Anthony Hopkins' surprise win
This much is simple: While no Oscar win is ever guaranteed, most of us still believed that Chadwick Boseman would win a best actor award posthumously. And then he didn't.
Then on top of that, the awards just ended.
After just more than three hours of programming, the end of the show was announced in the same way a bar's lights might come on in the absence of a last call announcement. It just stopped. That was it.
And obviously, Twitter reacted accordingly:
Major chaotic energy right now.— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) April 26, 2021
oscars ending this way is true “the year 2020” representation— jonny sun’s new book is out now!! (@jonnysun) April 26, 2021
do you think they just stopped the music and threw the lights on even brighter and started vacuuming— Mary H.K. Choi *YOLK is out NOW. In THIS economy.* (@choitotheworld) April 26, 2021
The First Oscar Ceremony Lasted 15 Minutes. What Happened?
There were no cameras or radio mics and just one speech. Even when it moved to TV, the show could be under two hours. When expectations set in, so did bloat.
When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the two-month postponement of the 2021 Oscars because of the pandemic, it didn’t address the question of the ceremony itself. The apex of Hollywood’s increasingly extravagant awards season now sounds like a super-spreader event: a night when thousands of stars, nominees and guests crowd shoulder-to-shoulder into the Dolby Theater, while gawking fans and hordes of media jostle outside.
That clearly won’t be the case this year, even with a delay. So how exactly can the academy put on an Oscar ceremony, without the flourishes that have come to define Hollywood’s Big Night? The answer may lie in Oscar’s own humble beginnings.
The academy has become synonymous with its annual awards, but those were, at best, a secondary concern when the group was founded in 1927. The brainchild of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer head Louis B. Mayer, the academy was initially hatched to mediate labor disputes on behalf of the studios. It soon expanded to include other purposes: promoting technical advances, working with the recently established Hays Office (which was set up to police content and thus improve the industry’s scandalous public image), and, finally, to present what the organization’s first president, the actor Douglas Fairbanks, would call “awards of merit for distinctive achievement.”
The aim was lofty: according to the academy’s rule book, the “Academy Awards of Merit should be considered the highest distinction attainable in the motion picture profession.” But the inaugural event was a good deal less ambitious. The familiar theatricality and suspense of envelopes ripped open to unveil winners was not yet in place the winners, in fact, had already been printed on the back page of the Academy Bulletin on Feb. 18, 1929, three months before the big night.
The first Academy Awards ceremony, held on May 16, 1929, was more like a corporate banquet than the star-studded spectacular we expect today. (It merited only a tiny, two-paragraph notice in The Times.) The location was the Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel, with roughly 270 people plunking down $5 per ticket. “It was just a family affair,” Janet Gaynor, winner of the first Academy Award for best actress, told The Times in 1982. “I remember there was an orchestra, and as you danced, you saw most of the important people in Hollywood whirling past you on the dance floor. It was more like a private party than a big public ceremony.”
Much more time was spent on the dancing or the dinner that followed (filet of sole sauté au beurre, half-broiled chicken on toast, new string beans and long branch potatoes, according to Robert Osborne’s book “85 Years of the Oscar”) than on the awards themselves. Douglas Fairbanks, the M.C. of the evening, handed out all 15 statues. Only five performers were nominated, and just two of them — Gaynor and Louise Dresser — were in attendance, as Gloria Swanson and Richard Barthelmess were traveling. Emil Jannings, the best actor winner, had returned to his native Germany, though he asked for, and received, his award before he left. (Back then, actors and actresses could win for more than one performance, so Gaynor was honored for “7th Heaven,” “Street Angel” and “Sunrise.” Jannings won for “The Last Command” and “The Way of All Flesh.”)
And in contrast to the lengthy acceptance addresses of years to come, the only winner of the night to give a speech was the producer Darryl F. Zanuck, who collected a special award for “The Jazz Singer” citing it as “the pioneer outstanding talking picture, which has revolutionized the industry.” That special award was indicative of industry thinking at the time, which still treated sound as a novelty — the rest of the awards were given to silent films.
The distribution of the awards, by most accounts, clocked in at about 15 minutes. “Clearly, the academy was not looking at the ceremony as anything that needed to have entertainment value,” Dave Karger, the resident Oscar expert for Turner Classic Movies, explained in an interview. “They discovered that concept later on, when it began airing on radio in 1930, and then on TV in the 1950s.”
Join Times theater reporter Michael Paulson in conversation with Lin-Manuel Miranda, catch a performance from Shakespeare in the Park and more as we explore signs of hope in a changed city. For a year, the “Offstage” series has followed theater through a shutdown. Now we’re looking at its rebound.
But some accommodations for fairness and showmanship were made quickly. Academy members didn’t even vote that first year, merely submitting nominees that were narrowed to a maximum of three for each category by Boards of Judges, with the winners chosen by the Central Board of Judges, composed of a single member from each branch (writing, technical achievements, producers, directors and performers). So five men ultimately picked the first Oscar winners, a practice that was changed once it became clear that board members could so easily sway the voting toward their own films.
The second ceremony, held at the Cocoanut Grove nightclub on April 30, 1930, began the tradition of announcing the winners on the spot rather than in advance, thus encouraging all nominees to attend and adding a touch of pizazz to the evening. But the winners were not yet the fiercely guarded secret they would become the list was given to the press in advance so the results could run in the morning papers, with a strict 11 p.m. embargo in place. This held for a decade — until 1940, when The Los Angeles Times flouted the rules and broke the embargo, resulting in a deflated, surprise-free event. (The sealed envelope system was adopted the following year.)
Unfortunately, that “spoiled” show represented the first time motion picture cameras had documented the ceremony. The radio broadcasts that began in Oscar’s second year put the focus less on the awards than on the industry-boosting speeches and presentations that buttressed them. Those broadcasts were the beginning of the Academy Awards as a public relations event — an opportunity to inform listeners that the motion picture industry was vital and valuable, and to insist (contrary to popular opinion at the time) that it was not a novelty but an art. That idea continued in the third year, when the broadcast opened with the industry censor Will Hays lecturing the room on the importance of morality in movies: “Good taste is good business, and to offend good taste is to fortify sales resistance. Nothing unclean can maintain growth and vitality.”
The first Oscar telecast, on March 19, 1953, was a pivotal point in the transformation of the Academy Awards from a night recognizing entertainment into an entertainment event itself. “I think it became much more important once TV entered the equation,” Karger said. “It wasn’t a private event like it was in the first year, or a radio show, like it was for the next couple of decades. I think once the Academy Awards became a spectacle and became a televised event, that’s when they became even more important.”
That cultural cachet would only grow — as would the ceremony. In the early days of the telecast, organizers used the inflexibility of the television schedule as an excuse to restore brevity to the evening, which had ballooned to three-plus hours by the late 1930s. Initially, the show’s producers complied: the first broadcast was only given 90 minutes, and they hewed to that limit by cutting off the final, honorary award. Shows of this era were kept so tight, in fact, that the 1959 entry ended 20 minutes before its two-hour slot concluded, forcing the co-host Jerry Lewis to vamp and start a dance party onstage.
The show crept past the two-hour mark in 1962, and then slowly expanded past three hours by 1974. Producers, hosts and network executives have tried to rein in the show ever since, proposing everything from off-air awards to strict caps on acceptance speeches, but the annual expectations of an Oscar telecast — comic monologues, song-and-dance numbers, celebrity byplay and copious montages — have rendered such suggestions moot. The simplifications necessary for these Covid-era Oscars may, sadly, strip away such features out of necessity rather than choice.
So what should such a ceremony look like? Karger, a faithful viewer who revisits old Oscar telecasts for fun, advises Oscar producers to “study the most recent Primetime Emmys. I think this year’s Emmys did itself a big favor by leaning into the weirdness of it all, all of those gonzo moments and at-home acceptance speeches. My fear is that all of the streamers and movie studios are just going to rent out nondescript hotel ballrooms or hotel suites for all of their nominees, and every acceptance speech is going to be on some dance floor or in front of some black curtains, as opposed to the fun of watching the ‘Schitt’s Creek’ cast at their private party, or Jennifer Aniston at home.”
In other words, the best possible Academy Awards ceremony this year might be one that’s more intimate and personal, focusing on the actors and the films themselves — just like when they began, nearly a century ago. “Isn’t that funny?” Karger chuckled. “The irony of it all is that the Oscars could do themselves a favor in 2021 by looking back to 1929. Who would have thought?”
An Unofficial History of theAcademy Awards on Radio
This essay is in part about Academy Award/movie history. Because of my intense interest in early radio history, I thought it would be fun to trace the earliest years that this ceremony or any part of the Oscar ceremony was ever presented on the radio, especially in the Los Angeles area. Then, my idea grew to try and include the entire history of the Academy Awards on the radio. We know that the first year the Oscars were seen on television was in 1953, and the first year it was broadcast in color on TV was in 1966. But, before television, the movie industry publicized their annual awards through the newspapers and gradually by using radio broadcasts too.
Did you know that the last time the Academy Awards produced a broadcast for only radio was in 1968? It was heard over ABC radio’s Entertainment Network, separate from the ABC television broadcast. And, the very first time the Academy Awards show was broadcast from beginning to end for a network “coast-to-coast” radio audience (and on Armed Forces Radio for the U.S. troops overseas) was in 1945 on more than 250 stations affiliated with the Blue Network of the American Broadcasting Company, and locally on KECA-790 in Los Angeles (now KABC). That network is known today as simply ABC.
Here is what I’ve discovered so far about the years that any part or all of the Academy Awards ceremonies were heard on the radio, first in Los Angeles and later across the nation.
1930 to 1932
April 3, 1930—It was only the second year of the Academy Awards and KNX in Hollywood was the first radio station to carry part of the awards, during a 1-hour broadcast. (KNX had used their station slogan “The Voice of Hollywood” since 1924) The radio log page for the Los Angeles Times on this date does not list this broadcast, but the Academy says it took place, so it most likely did air on KNX that evening.
November 5, 1930—Again, KNX at 1050 on the radio dial was on the scene of the Academy’s banquet, as the station aired part of the 3rd annual awards at 10 pm. The listing in the radio page of the newspaper reads: “KNX-Will Hays Banquet.” Mr. Hays was one of the speakers at the Motion Picture Academy banquet. There was also a program from 8 to 9 pm on KHJ-900 that night on the CBS west coast network listed as George Olsen and Hollywood celebrities. It’s possible that this program may have had something to do with the movie awards being given out that evening, but I’m not certain.
November 10, 1931—The headline in John S. Daggett’s Los Angeles Times radio column reads, “Film Academy On Air Tonight.” From the Biltmore Hotel, KHJ-900 on your dial, and the Don Lee CBS/Columbia Broadcasting System West Coast network was there to bring listeners the 4th Academy Awards presentation at 10:15 pm. It is described as “the largest social event of the screen year.” With the hook-up to the Don Lee-CBS West Coast network, that meant that besides being heard in the Los Angeles area over KHJ, the film awards would also be heard over KFRC in San Francisco and Don Lee stations in San Diego, Santa Barbara, Bakersfield, Fresno, Sacramento, Stockton, Portland, Oregon, plus Seattle, Tacoma and Spokane in the state of Washington. The newspaper radio column about the broadcast that evening is here.
November 18, 1932—The radio log for the Los Angeles Times shows that KFI owner Earle C. Anthony’s other Los Angeles station, KECA-1430, at 9:30 pm would carry “The Motion Picture Academy of Arts,” as it was listed in the paper.
Also, on the night before the 5th edition of the Oscars took place, radio station KECA presented a half-hour program called “Hollywood On the Air.” Its purpose was to have various actors, directors, and others talk about the Academy Awards and the purpose of the Academy. The official Oscar website has some short audio clips taken from that KECA broadcast of November 17, 1932, which was broadcast from Radio Pictures Studio in Hollywood (later known as RKO Studio). Those heard on the broadcast include Conrad Nagel, screen writer Howard J. Green, director Frank Capra and Mary Pickford, along with Clyde Lewis and his orchestra and KECA announcer John Trottell.
Click here and scroll down to hear the four clips from that program. It’s interesting to hear director Frank Capra talk about how the public had likely already made up their minds as to their favorite picture, actor and actress of the previous year. He also asked the listening public to write in to the Academy to let them know why their opinions differ from the Academy, after the awards are announced. The full 30-minute recording of this program, recorded by the Electro-Vox Recording Studio on Melrose Ave., is available for listener use at the Margaret Herrick Library in Beverly Hills. I was disappointed to learn that they did not make a recording of the Academy Awards ceremony the next night on KECA.
No Oscars On Radio From 1934 to 1938
While the radio coverage of the Academy Awards was short and to the point during those early years, for some unknown reason, a radio broadcast of the Oscar ceremony in Hollywood did not take place from 1934 through 1938, and there was no ceremony in 1933. One possibility is that newspaper publishers may have put pressure on the Academy to not allow radio coverage, so that the papers could have the story first. But more research will need to be done to find out if that was the case.
Unauthorized Broadcast Attempted in 1939
There was supposed to be a short radio broadcast of the winners in 1939, after the Academy Awards banquet had ended that night. However, the Academy says that instead, a short unauthorized broadcast of the Academy Awards was heard briefly on KHJ radio at 900 on the dial. I would like to thank reference librarian Libby Wertin at the Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for her research into this broadcast. She has told me that it was radio station KHJ and announcer George Fisher who took part in the unauthorized broadcast of the Academy Awards from the Biltmore Hotel on February 23, 1939.
KHJ had planned and was authorized to announce only the names of the winners after 11 p.m. from the Biltmore in a news-type broadcast. So, they had their equipment set up to go on the air. But KHJ was not authorized to broadcast the entire ceremony itself from beginning to end.
A recording of the unauthorized KHJ broadcast does exist at the Academy’s library. Preservation and listening copies have been made of the recording, and are available for use in the library. The broadcast lasted only about 12 minutes. It ended when Biltmore management shut down the broadcast. (Source: Music and Recorded Sound Collection, Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.)
Because the written transcript of the 1939 KHJ Oscar broadcast is a bit long, I will summarize a few of the highlights. The air check was recorded by the Electro-Vox Recording Studio at 5546 Melrose Avenue. The recording begins with the “Star Spangled Banner,” as most of the early Academy Awards banquets did in those days. The first eight minutes of the recording are related to the Awards Show. KHJ announcer George Fisher was said to be upstairs from where the banquet was taking place. After some applause, Fisher announces that the awards presentation has begun. He tells the listeners, “Now I’m going to pause for just a moment to continue my reading of the awards, as we will not be able to pick up the announcements from below, because of the fact that they take so long in-between announcements.” He continues reading some of the Academy Award winners as Academy President Frank Capra was introduced by Basil Rathbone. At one point during his short broadcast, Fisher tells the radio listeners, “I must speak quietly for fear that my voice may be heard downstairs.” I will personally comment that my guess is that remark shows that Fisher knew he was not supposed to be conducting this broadcast of the awards show, and he was afraid he would be discovered by Academy and/or hotel officials.
Next, KHJ announcer Don Kurlen makes a comment on seeing Spencer Tracy at a banquet table. A third person present, KHJ engineer Hudson Lyons, is referred to by Fisher. Fisher then continues talking and the Best Song award winner is announced as “Thanks For the Memory.” Fisher pauses to listen to the song as it can be heard over the air playing in the background. For the next 4 minutes, Fisher’s voice is no longer heard. On the recording, applause is heard and the nominees for another award are announced. Then, there are muffled voices heard saying, “If you don’t go, I’ll carry you out if you don’t go.” There are shuffling sounds, some music and then silence, as the broadcast was closed down by Biltmore management.
Music is next heard on the recording, with radio programming now apparently continuing from the studio. At the end of the song, an announcement is heard: “This is the Mutual-Don Lee Broadcasting System.” Then, there’s a pause of about 12 seconds, followed by a station identification announcement, and apparently the beginning of a commercial: “KHJ, Los Angeles. Never before such style, never before such luxury, never before such value…” Music plays for about 7 seconds and then the air check ends at around 12 minutes. (Source: Music and Recorded Sound Collection, Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.)
I asked Libby Wertin if this was a piece of unknown radio and Oscar history, because I had never read or heard anything about this unauthorized 1939 KHJ broadcast. She said, “I do not think there is anything especially secret about this broadcast there doesn’t seem to have been much notice taken of it at the time (at least I find no mention of it in a quick search of the LA Times). I presume the memory of it just got buried over the years.”
Academy Awards Heard on Radio Again During the 1940s
The following year, at least part of Academy Awards was heard again on Southern California radio. The listing in the Los Angeles Times radio page for Thursday February 29, 1940 from 11:00 to 11:15 pm shows that station KNX-1050 was scheduled to air the “Film Academy Awards.” This may have been for the same type of broadcast KHJ was given permission for in 1939, with only an announcement of the winners in the various categories after the banquet was over that evening, since it is on for such a short time period. This was for the 12th annual Academy Awards, which were held at the Cocoanut Grove of the Ambassador Hotel.
One year later, the Academy Awards were heard on the air the night of Thursday February 27, 1941. This time, it seems that this was a broadcast of the entire Oscar ceremony. The radio listings in the Los Angeles Times at 9:30 pm show the readers were able to tune into KECA-780 to hear the “Film Academy Awards” from the Biltmore Hotel. (It is possible that part of the west coast NBC Blue Network stations were also linked by KECA to receive this broadcast, but I have not had time to check to see if that took place) The paper also lists President Franklin D. Roosevelt as one of the speakers. According to the official Oscar website of the AMPAS, on this night at the 13th annual Academy Awards, President Roosevelt gave a 6-minute direct-line radio address from the white House. He paid tribute to the work that was done by Hollywood’s citizenry. It was the first time that an American president had participated in an Academy Awards evening.
In 1942, KNX-1050 was there to broadcast the Academy Awards at 10:30 pm on Thursday night February 26th from the Biltmore Hotel. Some short clips of the broadcast survive. The oscar.org website in their Legacy section has set aside a few audio clips from that night of the awards for Best Director, Best Documentary, Supporting Actor, Best Actor and Actress, and Best Picture. Go here and scroll down to hear the individual clips from the 14th annual Academy Awards.
In 1943, the 15th annual Academy Awards took place on Thursday March 4 at the Ambassador Hotel. It was the final time that the Oscar ceremony took place at a banquet. While the newspaper radio log does not show any listing for the Oscars that night, Academy photos show that CBS microphones were on the stage, so it was likely KNX was putting on the radio broadcast.
On March 2, 1944, the 16th annual Academy Awards was presented at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood. This was the first time the awards were presented from a theater. A pre-show was broadcast by KFWB-980, with announcer Neil Reagan (older brother of Ronald Reagan). The program itself was hosted by George Jessel, who gives a history of the Academy and what its purpose is. He also does some humorous ad-libs, announces the nominations for the evening and tries to get the various film celebrities to say hello to the radio audience before they enter the theater. The KFWB orchestra also plays a medley of the Oscar winners for Best Song from the past three years.
Following the pre-show over KFWB (which was owned by Warner Brothers Studio at the time), the Academy Awards show was broadcast over KNX and the CBS West Coast feed, with announcer Ken Carpenter and host Jack Benny. Again, this was fairly late in the evening, at 10:15 pm, according to the newspaper listings for the “Academy Film Awards.” Also, during the pre-show broadcast, George Jessel said that KFWB would be back on the air to announcer the Oscar winners at 10:15 too, but there is no newspaper listing of that in the same radio log for that evening.
To hear the two programs from the 1944 awards over KFWB and KNX, click here. The total length is about 55 minutes, much shorter than the 3-plus hours length of today’s Oscar programs. The KNX-CBS audio recording of the awards with Ken Carpenter and Jack Benny of the 16th Academy Awards (for movies released during 1943), is the earliest full audio recording of the Academy Awards that the Academy library has in its collection.
On March 15, 1945, KECA-790 in Los Angeles and the Blue Network of the American Broadcasting Company (formerly the Blue Network and the NBC Blue Network, would soon be known simply as ABC) presented the 17th annual Academy Awards at 9:30 pm. This was the first time the Academy Awards was heard from beginning to end on a nationwide coast-to-coast network hook-up. This was also the first time that film clips were used for nominated categories at the Oscars.
The ABC radio announcer was George Fisher. He was the KHJ announcer in 1939 who was on the air with the unauthorized broadcast of the Academy Awards. (Fisher was a longtime radio broadcaster and newspaper columnist, usually working as an entertainment reporter. He worked at half-a dozen Southern California stations including KHJ, KNX, KFI and KFWB. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for radio)
Bob Hope was the host for the evening. The recording is just over one hour in length, though it sounds as if the end of the program may have been cut off, as it ends suddenly after a closing comment from Bob Hope. To hear the entire 1945 broadcast, click here.
The next year, the 18th annual Academy Awards were presented on March 7, 1946. The network radio broadcast was again carried in Los Angeles over KECA and across the nation on the ABC network, starting at 9:30 pm Pacific time. Bob Hope and James Stewart were the co-hosts. The official oscar.org website has some interesting audio clips from that night for Best Cinematography presented by D.W. Griffith Best Writing presented by Bette Davis and Best Actress to Joan Crawford, presented by Charles Boyer and accepted by her director Michael Curtiz. Click here and scroll to the bottom to play the audio clips.
The 19th annual Academy Awards took place on Thursday night March 13, 1947. The host was Jack Benny. The Los Angeles Times radio log page indicates that KFWB-980 carried a pre-Oscar show starting at 8:15 pm. KECA and the ABC radio network began their broadcast of the Academy Awards at 8:45 that evening. It is likely that the presentation of the Oscars was getting longer than in past years, because the 10 pm listing for KECA shows that the Academy Awards broadcast was continuing into the next hour. The official Oscar website also states that this was the first time the general public was allowed to buy tickets to attend the Academy Awards.
The following year, the 20th annual Academy Awards took place on Saturday March 20, 1948. The broadcast again was heard in Los Angeles on KECA-790 and nationally on the ABC network beginning at 8:30 pm from the Shrine Civic Auditorium. To hear some audio clips of that night’s winners, click here and scroll to the bottom of the page.
The 21st annual Academy Awards were presented on March 24, 1949. The broadcast was heard over KECA in Los Angeles and across the nation on the ABC network, starting at 8 p.m. Pacific Time from the Academy Award Theater. Audio clips from two of the winners that night can be heard here.
The 22nd Academy Awards took place at the Pantages Theater on March 23, 1950. Paul Douglas was the master of ceremonies. The radio broadcast was heard across the nation on the ABC radio network and in Los Angeles on KECA. The announcer for the radio program was Ken Carpenter, and he was assisted with commentary from Eve Arden and Ronald Reagan. To hear the full broadcast of the 22nd Academy Awards, click here (Same link for the broadcast of the 1945 Oscars). The program is split into 4 parts and lasts about 1 hour and 45 minutes. At the end of the program, it is interesting to hear Eve Arden say she wished she could’ve talked more about the gowns the women were wearing. Television would soon let the movie fans see the Oscar nominees and the winners on this glamorous night, and the focus on what the women wear at the Academy Awards has increased tremendously since the 1950s.
The 23rd Academy Awards show took place on March 29, 1951 with Fred Astaire as host. The program was carried in Southern California again on KECA-790 and nationwide over the ABC network. The Los Angeles broadcast started at 9:15 pm and was scheduled to run for 90 minutes. The announcers/commentators for ABC were Ken Carpenter and John Lund.
The 24th Academy Awards program was on March 20, 1952. The broadcast from The Pantages Theater began at 9 p.m. on KECA-790 in Los Angeles and throughout the USA on the ABC network, with Paul Douglas the main announcer and commentator. Danny Kaye was the master of ceremonies. To see and hear some of the winners that night, click here.
Oscar Enters the Television Age
In 1953, the 25th Academy Awards show was seen on television for the first time on NBC-TV, from the Pantages Theater in Hollywood and the NBC International Theater in New York City, on March 19th. Bob Hope was the emcee in Hollywood and Conrad Nagel in New York. The radio broadcast over NBC radio was carried in Los Angeles by KFI-640 at 7:30 pm. Paul Douglas was the special radio commentator for this broadcast.
The Academy’s Oscar Legacy section on their website has a couple of video clips of two winners from that night here. The one that I like the most from this 25th anniversary of the Oscars shows one of the Academy founders, movie pioneer Mary Pickford presenting legendary pioneer director Cecil B. DeMille the award for Best Picture for The Greatest Show On Earth.
The 26th Academy Awards were held on March 25, 1954. The hosts were Donald O’Connor in Hollywood and Fredric March in New York. The broadcast was seen and heard on NBC-TV and radio. In Los Angeles, KFI carried the radio portion at 7:30 pm. Richard Carlson was the main commentator during the radio broadcast.
Less Radio Listeners At Night, As More Homes Get Television
By 1955, 50% of American homes had at least one television set, a number that increased to 87% of U.S. homes with TV by 1960. As the audience at night was increasing for TV, the audience for radio listening during the evening hours was getting smaller. Each year, the Academy Awards became a huge television event. Still, the Academy continued to do a separate broadcast for radio for 13 more years, through 1968.
From 1955 to 1960, NBC radio’s presentation of the Academy Awards was heard over KFI-640 in Southern California. The station’s ‘clear channel’ 50,000 watt signal most likely also helped bring the Oscars to listeners without TV in many outlying areas of the west. The NBC radio commentators for the Oscar broadcasts were Richard Carlson in 1955 Jim Backus in 1956 Robert Wagner in 1957 Mel Ferrer in 1958 Paul Douglas and Jan Sterling in 1959 and Vincent Price in 1960.
The Final Radio Years of the Academy Awards
The ABC radio network carried the Academy Awards from 1960 through 1968. Richard Widmark was the guest radio commentator for the Oscars on ABC radio in 1961. I have not been able to check the Los Angeles Times radio log to see if the show was heard on a Los Angeles station that year. But radio logs for the Pasadena Star-News indicate the Academy Awards show was heard on KABC-790 in L.A. in 1962, 1963 and 1964.
The radio host in 1962 is unknown, but from 1963 through 1968, the radio hosts/commentators were Jack Linkletter (son of radio-TV personality Art Linkletter) and Oscar-winning costume designer Edith Head. So far, my research of the radio logs shows that the 1965, , and Academy Awards show may not have been broadcast by any Los Angeles radio station. More research is needed before I can confirm whether or not any Southern California radio station carried the broadcast.
The 40th annual Academy Awards was held on April 10, 1968. The ABC radio network had just split into four separate radio networks. The March 15, 1968 issue of Broadcasting magazine ran a short piece promoting Eastman Kodak Company’s sponsorship of the Oscars on ABC radio and television. The item said the radio broadcast would be heard over the ABC Entertainment network. In Los Angeles, the ABC Entertainment affiliate was KFOX-FM at 100.3 on the FM dial. So, while I have no concrete proof that this was the case, it’s quite possible that the final network radio broadcast of the Academy Awards in the Los Angeles market occurred on an FM station. (Also, a post on the Radio-Info.com discussion board states that a man who received an air check from an ‘old time radio’ tape dealer, has a cassette tape of the final broadcast of Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club in 1968. The tape contains both ABC Entertainment Network ID’s and the local station ID as KFOX-FM. So, if the 1968 radio broadcast of the Oscars was heard in Los Angeles, it makes sense that it would have been on that radio station)
I would guess that by this time, the Academy knew that the handwriting was on the wall for ending the network radio broadcasts of the Academy Awards after nearly 23 consecutive years. With the big ratings the awards show received on TV at this time, it probably was more cost effective to drop the radio broadcast due to its much smaller listening audience. It was the end of an era, as the movie fans preferred to see their favorite actors and actresses win or lose the Oscar on TV, instead of listening to an announcer describing what the stars were wearing and what famous celebrities were inside the theater. But, before television came into most homes, the magic of radio helped bring the excitement Hollywood’s most famous and glamorous evening into the homes of movie lovers across the USA for several years.
These are my preliminary findings on the history of the Academy Awards on radio. I would like to sincerely thank Libby Wertin of the Margaret Herrick Library for assisting me with research for portions of this article. She provided details of the Academy’s recordings of the 1932 KECA 30-minute broadcast of “Hollywood On the Air” the 1939 unauthorized broadcast of the awards on radio station KHJ and a list of announcers and commentators for the network radio productions from 1944 to 1968.
I hope to have an updated revised edition of this article in the near future, should I find any new and significant information to add to the story. Meanwhile, if any readers have any comments, questions or corrections or more details to add, please feel free to send me an email: [email protected]
Jim Hilliker is a former radio broadcaster of 26 years. He has been researching and writing about early Los Angeles radio history since the 1980s.
First Academy Awards telecast on NBC - HISTORY
Brownielocks and The 3 Bears
The History of the Oscars
(aka Academy Awards)
April 25, 2021
(No Attendance. Broadcast only.)
When the Academy was set up, the cost of a movie ticket was just 25 cents. And, the motion picture industry was the 4th largest in the USA.
Although it's technically The Academy Awards, many also just refer to it as The Oscars, named after the award that's given.
How did the idea for the Academy Awards start?
By the end of the 1920's, the motion picture industry was the 4th largest in the U.S. And, by 1928 it's estimated that approximately 500 full-length movies were being made a year to accommodate the demands by weekly audiences across the country. Of course, Hollywood had it's critics. Church groups and the PTA were a couple that accused the movies of being a harmful influence on American society. So, in order to not be censored by outside forces, the movie industry proceeded to set up it's own governing unit for quality in 1922. They hired Will H. Hays, a former Postmaster General, to set up some guidelines for good taste in movies. In spite of this, some states still wanted to regulate their own censorships when it came to viewing movies in their areas.
Another problem back in the early days of Hollywood was the start of unions. In November of 1926, a Studio Basic Agreement was signed between nine film studios, plus unions that represented workers like carpenters, musicians, stagehands, painters, electricians, etc. There was also a competition between studios as far as film technology advances. Each studio was keeping it's own secrets about what it developed for it's films. Because of this, it seemed each studio had it's own standard of film making quality.
About five weeks after the Studio Basic Agreement was signed, the idea for an Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) was being sparked. A luncheon between Louis B. Mayer (MGM studio chief), Conrad Nagel (actor), Fred Niblo (director) and Fred Beetson (producer) at Mr. Mayer's home in Santa Monica is where it was agreed that the movie industry needed to organize something to help the movie industry deal with its problems both creative, technical and labor. As a result of the luncheon idea, on January 11, 1927 another larger event was organized at the Ambassador Hotel in LA for thirty-six people in the film industry. It's these 36 people who are the founders of what we know today as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The 36 were as follows: Louis B. Mayer, Conrad Nagel, Fred Niblo, Fred Beetson, J.A. Bail, Richard Barthelmess, Charles H. Christie, George Cohen, Cecil B. DeMille, Douglas Fairbanks, Joseph W. Farnham, Cedric Gibons, Benjamin Glazer, Sid Grauman, Milton Hoffman, Jack Holt, Henry King, Jesse Lasky, M.C. Levee, Frank Lloyd, Harold Lloyd, Edwin Loeb, Jeanie MacPherson, Bess Meredyth, Mary Pickford, Roy Pomeroy, Harry Rapf, Joseph Schenck, Milton Sills, John Stahl, Irving Thalberg, Raoul Walsh, Harry Warner, Jack L. Warner, Carey Wilson and Frank Woods.
Once the articles of incorporation were set up, the first president of the Academy was Douglas Fairbanks. Vice President, Fred Niblo, M.C. Levee was treasurer and Frank Woods was the Secretary. On May 4, 1927 the State of California approved a charter for the Academy as a non-profit enterprise. Later that evening at the Biltmore Hotel (Crystal Ballroom) 300 people attended, out of which were 230 new members who signed up as the first members. The cost was a check for $100.
As in the beginning, even today to become a member of the Academy you must be invited. They do not hold membership drives. In order to get invited, you must have achieved some distinction in one of the branches such as, Producers, Actors, Directors, Writers, Technicians, etc. Once you are a member, you are a member for life! However, in a few situations, some members have had their status changed from "active" to "associate." This means that they can't vote for the Oscars (only active members do that) but they are still a member of the Academy.
The first headquarters for the Academy was located at 6912 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA. After just a few months they outgrew it. Budget problems prevented them from building a whole new building. Instead they ended up moving into the Roosevelt Hotel (Mezzantine Floor) at 7010 Hollywood Boulevard, LA.
On September 18, 1973 they broke ground for a new Academy headquarters at 8949 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA. The designer for the building was Maxwell Starkman. The building was finished on December 8, 1975.
One of the first branches of the Academy was The Award of Merits Committee whose members were: Richard Barthelmess, D.W. Griffith, Henry King, Sid Grauman, Bess Meredyth, J. Stuart Blackton and Cedric Gibbons. These members were giving thought to the idea of having some sort of awards presentation. But, it got pushed back for a year until July, 1928 with 12 categories for awards as follows:
|Most Outstanding Production||Achievement in Dramatic Directing||Achievement in Art Directing||Achievement in Writing Adaptation|
|Achievement by an Actor||Achievement in Comedy Directing||Achievement in Engineering Effects||Achievement in Title Writing|
|Achievement by an Actress||Achievement in Cinematography||Achievement in Original Story Writing||Most Artistic or Unique Production|
*Sound awards were not given until the next year, 1930.
The awards would be given for pictures released between August 1, 1927 to July 31, 1928. Studios were asked to let the Academy know what films were released during that time. Once they got the list, five Board of Judges (one from each branch) were then to narrow it down to 3 finalists in each category. Then the Central Board of Judges were decide the winner from the 3 finalists of each group. On February 15, 1929 (six months after the closing date to submit) the winners were announced to the press. Then 3 months later, on May 16, 1929 the awards were presented.
The release time remained the same until 1933 when they changed the date from January 1 to December 31 as the eligibility dates. So the 6th Academy Awards had 17 months eligibility for the movies. From then on, until today, the January 1 to December 31 eligibility remains the same.
On May 16, 1929, the first Academy Awards ceremony was held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel (Blossom Room). Approximately 250 people were there, dressed in formal attire. The odd thing about this event is that people already knew who the winners were! (It was announced 3 months earlier)
The very first actor, which was the very first award presented that night, went to Emil Jannings, for Best Actor in "The Last Command" and "The Way of All Flesh." Ironically, he wasn't there to accept it because after he was told he won, he had his photo taken with the picture (before the ceremony) and then moved to Germany, never to return to the US. So, the first Oscar statute given went to Emil Jannings also. And, he is also the first winner at a ceremony to not show up!
Apparently, they didn't think ladies should go first? The first female to win an Oscar for Best Actress went to Janet Gaynor in "Seventh Heaven." And, I could go on and list other winners, but there are other sites that have all the technical data facts that I invite you to visit.
The only thank-you speech at this ceremony was by Darryl F. Zanuck (The Jazz Singer) given for the first talkie. No one else said anything. Apparently they just grabbed their statues and that was that?
I'm not sure if there was a red carpet at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel when you walked into in 1929 or, if there was even a long red rug that led people into the Blossom Banquet Hall, but the red carpet today is just as much a symbol of the Academy Awards as the Oscar Statue is IMHO. The custom to roll out a red carpet for royal processions goes back thousands of years. In 485 B.C., Greek playwright Aeschylus has one of his characters (Agamemnon) in his plays , walk a red carpet fit only for "the feet of the gods." But, the first place in the U.S. to actually have a red carpet for it's customers to walk on is believed to be the New York Central Railroad, (from 1902-1967) then owned by Vanderbuilt, which had a red carpet in its station to help guide its passengers to and from the train.
In 1922, Sid Grauman, who owned the Egyptian Theatre had a red carpet in front of his establishment. This is 7 years before the Academy began. And, Mr. Grauman was also one of the original 36 founding members of the Academy. Perhaps he brought up the idea to have a red carpet at the ceremonies? And, in 1944 the ceremony was moved to Grauman's Chinese Theater, (owned by Sid Grauman),. I assume it had a red carpet in front of it just like the Egyptian theater did. This is where I think the origin of the red carpet for the Award Ceremonies began, but I can't prove it. )
The red carpet as we know it today is made in Dalton, Georgia and is nylon.
The color, technically, is more burgundy (died per the Academy's specifications), but looks red on television. The carpet weighs about 5 tons, and comes in 300-pound rolls. The sections are cut and glued into place very skillfully so that no one trips when they walk. This takes a crew about 2 days. It's also given a protectorant so that the dye doesn't come off on all those expensive shoes the celebs wear. Does the Academy buy a new carpet every year? No. Every other year they do. One year they have it cleaned and the next year they get a new one. Can you tell which year is which?
The Academy Awards show through the years has switched locations several times.
It has also switched from NBC to ABC, back and forth several times. It began as a simple dinner at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and just a few years ago, ended up in it's own theatre, called the Kodak Theatre.
But, why all the moving? In some cases it had to do with room and other cases it had to do with politics. During WWI, the Awards were moved from a dinner atmosphere to the theatre (Grauman's Chinese Theatre), with no fancy dinner afterwards as a sign of humility. For the 19th Awards Show, (3/13/47) the event was moved to the Shrine Auditorium. On April 17, 1961 the Awards were moved to the Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica, CA. They remained there for 8 years. On April 14, 1969 it moved to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. It bounced back and forth between the Shrine Civic Auditorium and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion until it moved into it's final spot, the Kodak Theatre in 2002.
In 1998 the Oscar Awards show officially got a theme song written by Jerry Goldsmith called "Fanfare for Oscar."
Cedric Gibbons, was MGM's Art Director in 1928. He is the one who designed the statue that's given out. He had sketched a knight standing on a reel of film holding a two-edged sword. However, he used a Mexican actor named Emilio Fernandez (aka 'El Indio') as his model. Mr. Fernandez had to flee Mexico in 1920 due to his political activities to overthrow the leader. So, he went to Los Angeles and there he met actress Dolores del Rio, who was Cedric Gibbons wife. Since Mr. Gibbons was the one responsible for coming up with a statue for this event, he asked Emilio Fernandez to pose for in the nude for him. Emilio was not too eager to do it. But, he eventually agreed. The sketch Cedric made became the template for the statute's mold. The award was first printed on a scroll. Then, George Stanley, an artist, made the sculpture's mold (not Cedric Gibbons) based on Emilio's form which was then made into a statue and gold-plated in 1929.
The statue remains the same today as it was back then and no changes have been made to it, except for a pedestal adjustment made in the 1940's. The five holes in the base represent the original five branches: Actors, Directors, Producers, Technicians and Writers. Basically, ol' Oscar is just a hairless, naked man with a sword plunging into a reel of film. (During WWI and WWII, the statue was made out of plaster.) The statue is 13 1/2 inches tall, weighs 8 1/2 pounds and is made of britannium. The outside is gold-plated. In the beginning the statues were not numbered. They started numbering them in 1949, starting with 501.
The origin of the nickname of the statue, Oscar is debatable. Some credit it to Margaret Herrick, the first librarian of the Academy who is said to have named it after her Uncle Oscar Pierce. Others say it was Betty Davis who nicknamed it after her husband (at that time) Harmon Oscar Nelson. Rumor has it that Oscar's butt reminded her of him. ) And yet others claim it was Sidney Skoksky, a columnist who named it Oscar because he got tired of writing, the award or the statue and/or trying to come up with some clever acronym for it. So, he just used the name from on old vaudeville joke, "Have a cigar, Oscar?"
But, calling it "Oscar" was sort of an inside thing until 1933 when Walt Disney won for his "Three Little Pigs" under Best Short. In his thank-you speech, Walt called it "Oscar" which was the very first time the award had been called that publicly.
Whomever began it started something because it's been called Oscar ever since. And, it is easier to say than the official title of Academy's Award of Merit. There was an attempt once to call it "The Iron Man" but that never really stuck.
The Oscar design was officially copyrighted on September 2, 1941.
For child winners, Shirley Temple and Margaret O'Brien, smaller miniature statutes of Oscar were given to them. Years later, they were given full-size statutes.
The mold that Oscar is made out of eventually got worn. So, in 1998, the Academy approved a new mold that would give Oscar as stronger chin and chiseled neck.
Besides the actual Oscar statue awards for the Academy's branches, they also present the following special awards at the ceremony:
The Oscar statuette's official name is the "Academy Award of Merit." The name "Oscar" is actually a nickname that has been around for decades with unclear beginnings. Though there are several different stories that claim to tell the origin of the nickname "Oscar," the most common attributes the nickname to a comment made by Margaret Herrick.
Herrick, as the story goes, worked as a librarian at the Academy and upon first seeing the statuette, commented that the statuette looked like her Uncle Oscar. No matter how the nickname started, it became increasingly used to describe the statuette in the 1930s and was officially used by the Academy beginning in 1939.
First Academy Awards telecast on NBC - HISTORY
The Dawning of the 50s:
The 50s decade was known for many things: post-war affluence and increased choice of leisure time activities, conformity, the Korean War, middle-class values, the rise of modern jazz, the rise of 'fast food' restaurants and drive-ins (Jack in the Box - founded in 1951 McDonalds - first franchised in 1955 in Des Plaines, IL and A&W Root Beer Company - formed in 1950, although it had already established over 450 drive-ins throughout the country), a baby boom, the all-electric home as the ideal, white racist terrorism in the South, the advent of television and TV dinners, abstract art, the first credit card (Diners Club, in 1951), the rise of drive-in theaters to a peak number in the late 50s with over 4,000 outdoor screens (where young teenaged couples could find privacy in their hot-rods), and a youth reaction to middle-aged cinema. Older viewers were prone to stay at home and watch television (about 10.5 million US homes had a TV set in 1950).
In the period following WWII when most of the films were idealized with conventional portrayals of men and women, young people wanted new and exciting symbols of rebellion. Hollywood responded to audience demands - the late 1940s and 1950s saw the rise of the anti-hero - with stars like newcomers James Dean, Paul Newman (who debuted in the costume epic The Silver Chalice (1954)) and Marlon Brando, replacing more proper actors like Tyrone Power, Van Johnson, and Robert Taylor. [In later decades, this new generation of method actors would be followed by Robert DeNiro, Jack Nicholson, and Al Pacino.] Sexy anti-heroines included Ava Gardner, Kim Novak, and Marilyn Monroe - an exciting, vibrant, sexy star.
One of the decade's best comedies was Harvey (1950), with James Stewart as a lovable, eccentric drunk named Elwood P. Dowd whose best friend was an imaginary, six-foot-tall rabbit. Another of the most popular films in the late 50s was Leo McCarey's romantic drama An Affair to Remember (1957), the story of an ill-fated romance between Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant due to an automobile accident, delaying a rendezvous at the top of the Empire State Building in New York City. It was a remake of the director's own tearjerker film Love Affair (1939) with Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer. The same story would inspire the making of Nora Ephron's Sleepless in Seattle (1993) with leads Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan (who had first appeared together in Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)), and Love Affair (1994) with real-life couple Warren Beatty and Annette Bening.
The New Teenage, Youth-Oriented Market:
The 50s decade also ushered in the age of Rock and Roll and a new younger market of teenagers. This youth-oriented group was opposed to the older generation's choice of nostalgic films, such as director Anthony Mann's and Universal's popular musical biopic The Glenn Miller Story (1954), starring James Stewart as the big band leader, duplicated in Universal's follow-up musical biography The Benny Goodman Story (1956) with Steve Allen (his film debut in a serious dramatic role) as the talented clarinet player. They preferred Rock Around the Clock (1956) that featured disc jockey Alan Freed and the group Bill Haley and His Comets (singing the title song) and many others (such as the Platters, and Freddy Bell and The Bell Boys) - it was the first film entirely dedicated to rock 'n' roll. It was quickly followed by two more similar films featuring Alan Freed (as Himself) -- Don't Knock the Rock (1956) and Rock, Rock, Rock (1956). Both films argued that rock-and-roll was a new, fun, and wholesome type of music. However, the adult generation continued to regard the new youthful generation (and the rise of juvenile deliquency) with skepticism and fear, as illustrated in the film adaptation of Maxwell Anderson's stage play, The Bad Seed (1956). The thriller demonstrated that evil could reside in a young, cute serial killer (played by Patty McCormack).
Bandstand first began as a local program for teens on WFIL-TV (now WPVI), Channel 6 in Philadelphia in early October, 1952. In mid-1956, the new host chosen for ABC-TV's American Bandstand was 26 year-old Dick Clark. By the time the show was first aired nationally, in mid-1957, it had became a mainstay for rock group performances.
The rock and roll music of the 50s was on display, along with big-bosomed star Jayne Mansfield as a talentless, dumb blonde sexpot in writer/director Frank Tashlin's satirical comedy The Girl Can't Help It (1956). Marilyn Monroe's foil Tom Ewell starred in the film as the protagonist. It was the first rock and roll film to be taken seriously, with 17 songs in its short 99 minutes framework. Great rock and roll performers included Ray Anthony, Fats Domino, The Platters, Little Richard and his Band (featured in the title song), Gene Vincent and His Bluecaps, Eddie Cochran (with his screen debut) and others. American youth wanted to hear their popular groups in their films that they chose to view, including Bill Haley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Ritchie Valens, Eddie Cochran, Chuck Berry, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, Gene Vincent, and The Platters.
Sometimes, to appeal to the new juvenile market, actors were miscast, such as clean-cut crooner Pat Boone in April Love (1957), playing a juvenile delinquent who was sent to his uncle's Kentucky farm for rehabilitation. The title song, however, became a big hit for the singer/actor. By the last year of the decade, the youth market in all its forms was worth $10 billion a year. Tragedy also struck in the last year of the decade, when pop idols 22 year old songwriter and singer Buddy Holly, 17 year old Latino singer Ritchie Valens, and 28 year old J.P. Richardson (aka radio DJ "The Big Bopper") were killed in a light plane crash on February 3, 1959 in an Iowa cornfield, while on a "Winter Dance Party" tour. [Both singers were later honored with biopics: The Buddy Holly Story (1978) and La Bamba (1987), and also by Don McLean's 1972 hit song American Pie.]
Hollywood soon realized that the affluent teenage population could be exploited, now more rebellious than happy-go-lucky - as they had been previously portrayed in films (such as the Andy Hardy character played by Mickey Rooney). The influence of rock 'n' roll surfaced in Richard Brooks' box-office success, Blackboard Jungle (1955). It was the first major Hollywood film to use R&R on its soundtrack - the music in the credits was provided by Bill Haley and His Comets - their musical hit "Rock Around the Clock." The film also starred Glenn Ford as a war veteran and clean-cut All-American novice teacher at inner city North Manual HS (New York), where the students, led by a disrespectful, sneering punk (Vic Morrow), test his tolerance. [One of the other persuasive youths was a young Sidney Poitier.]
Another film, that came later in the decade, that also exploited the new teenage market's non-conformist attitudes, was Jack Arnold's exploitative juvenile delinquent film, High School Confidential (1958), featuring drugs in a high school dope ring, lots of 50's slang words and hep-talk, Russ Tamblyn as an undercover cop posing as a student, switchblade fights, drag races, Mamie Van Doren as Tamblyn's nympho aunt, and Jerry Lee Lewis singing the title song in its opening.
Two Early 50's Youth Films and Their Influential Actors:
Two other youth-oriented actors and their films in the mid-50s would portray the potentially-scary, self-expressive, and rebellious new teenage population.
1. Marlon Brando: A Symbol of Adolescent, Anti-Authoritarian Rebellion
A young Marlon Brando (1924-2004) was trained by Lee Strasberg's Actors' Studio in New York in raw and realistic 'method acting,' and influenced by Stella Adler. He starred in A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway (opposite Jessica Tandy as Blanche) in 1947, and would later repeat his work on film in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) and receive an Oscar nomination. He also contributed a memorable role as a self-absorbed teen character. He played Johnny - an arrogant, rebellious, tough yet sensitive leader of a roving motorcycle-biking gang (wearing a T-shirt and leather jacket) that invaded and terrorized a small-town in Laslo Benedek's controversial The Wild One (1954) (banned in Britain until a decade and a half later). The film was noted for one line of dialogue, typifying his attitude: "What are you rebelling against?" Brando's reply: "Whadda ya got?" A nasty Lee Marvin led a rival gang of bikers named The Beetles.
[Brando's photo as biker Johnny later appeared on the front-sleeve of the famed mid-late 60s Beatles' album: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. (Brando's new style of acting would be forever emulated by future generations of actors, including Jack Nicholson, Sean Penn, and later Russell Crowe.)]
2. James Dean: The 'First American Teenager'
The anguished, introspective teen James Dean (1932-1955) was the epitome of adolescent pain. Dean appeared in only three films before his untimely death in the fall of 1955. His first starring role was in Elia Kazan's adaptation of John Steinbeck's novel East of Eden (1955) as a Cain-like son named Cal vying for his father's (Raymond Massey) love against his brother Aron.
It was followed by Nicholas Ray's best-known melodramatic, color-drenched film about juvenile delinquency and alienation, Warner Bros.' Rebel Without a Cause (1955). This was the film with Dean's most-remembered role as mixed-up, sensitive, and defiant teenager Jim Stark involved in various delinquent behaviors (drunkenness, a switchblade fight, and a deadly drag race called a Chicken Run), and his archetypal scream to his parents: "You're tearing me apart!"
Dean also starred in his third (and final) feature, George Stevens' epic saga Giant (1956) set in Texas, and also starring Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, and Dennis Hopper. (The 24 year-old actor was killed in a tragic car crash on September 30th 1955 while driving his Silver Porsche 550 Spyder -- affectionately nicknamed 'The Little Bastard', around the time that Giant was completed and about a month before Rebel opened. Dean was on his way to car races in Salinas on October 1st. The crash occurred at the intersection of Routes 41 and 46 near Paso Robles at Cholame, and he died enroute to the hospital.) [Note: Dean's two co-stars in the film also experienced untimely deaths: Sal Mineo (as Plato) was stabbed to death at age 37, and Natalie Wood (as Judy) drowned at age 43.] In his honor, James Dean was awarded two post-humous Best Actor nominations: for his role as rebellious Cal Trask in East of Eden (1955) and as oil-rich ranch-hand Jett Rink in Giant (1956).
Elvis 'The Pelvis' Presley: The King of Rock 'N Roll
Elvis' first record was That's All Right Mama, cut in July, 1954 in Memphis and released on the Sun Records label. At the time of his first hit song Heartbreak Hotel, singer Elvis Presley made his first national TV appearance in January 1956 on CBS' Tommy (and Jimmy) Dorsey's Stage Show, although he is best remembered for his controversial, sexy, mid-1956 performance of Hound Dog on the Milton Berle Show, and for three rock 'n roll performances on the Ed Sullivan Show from September 1956 to January 1957 - his last show was censored by being filmed from the 'waist-up'.
He was also featured as an actor in many money-making films after signing his first film deal in 1956. His screen debut was in Fox's Civil War drama Love Me Tender (1956) (originally titled The Reno Brothers), with a #1 single hit song ballad. He also appeared in Paramount's Loving You (1957) (noted for his first screen kiss, and for being his first Technicolor film), and then in his MGM debut film Jailhouse Rock (1957) - generally acknowledged as his most famous and popular film. Next came director Michael Curtiz' and Paramount's King Creole (1958) (his third and last B/W film and his own favorite) in a role as a New Orleans teen rebel (acclaimed as one of his best acting roles) before the decade ended. His induction into the Army in 1958 was a well-publicized event. After his Army stint, he also starred in G.I. Blues (1960), in Don Siegel's western Flaming Star (1960) (with only two songs) as a half-breed youth, in the southern melodrama Wild in the Country (1961), and in other formulaic 60's films (i.e., Blue Hawaii (1961), Kid Galahad (1962), and his biggest box-office hit Viva Las Vegas (1964)). By the 70s, his film roles had deteriorated, and although he returned to stage performances and revived his singing career, he was physically on the decline until his death in August, 1977 of heart disease and drug abuse.
American Releasing Corporation (ARC) - Renamed American International Pictures (AIP) (1956): Roger Corman
AIP (1956- )
In its first few years starting in 1954, American International Pictures (AIP) was originally named American Releasing Corporation (ARC). It was known as a low-budget, exploitative film company. The studio's executive producers were James Nicholson and Samuel Arkoff, while its most notable and successful film producer was Roger Corman. Corman became one of the most influential film-makers of the 50s and 60s (he was dubbed the "King of the Drive-In and B-Movie") for his production of a crop of low-budget exploitation films at the time. The studio was largely responsible for the wave of independently-produced films of varying qualities that lasted into the decade of the 70s.
The first release from ARC was the B-movie crime thriller-drama The Fast and the Furious (1954) (Corman's second production) that featured a car chase and starred Dorothy Malone and John Ireland. Another early ARC release was the western Outlaw Treasure (1955) - in fact, a number of the earliest Corman ARC releases were westerns, including Five Guns West (1955), Apache Woman (1955) with Lloyd Bridges, The Oklahoma Woman (1956) and Gunslinger (1956).
Teenagers were Corman's dominant target audience in exploitative films following The Fast and the Furious (1954), such as Teenage Doll (1957) (aka The Young Rebels) - about juvenile delinquency, the first rock & roll horror film I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (1957) (Michael Landon's first feature film). and Sorority Girl (1957). As was the case with most AIP films, they were aggressively marketed with publicity campaigns and lurid posters. There were often double-features (black and white double-bills), for example, Not of This Earth (1957) - an alien invasion film was originally released as part of a double-bill with Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957) [Note: Not of This Earth was remade by Jim Wynorski as Not of This Earth (1988) with ex-porn star Traci Lords in her first post-adult film appearance, in the Beverly Garland role].
[Note: It must be acknowledged that not all cheap teen movies were made by AIP in the 50s, for example, The Blob (1958), featuring Steve McQueen in his first starring role as a high-schooler, was about a meteorite that oozed a disgusting, gooey substance that ate people. There was also Ed Wood's debut transvestite shock film Glen or Glenda (1953).]
Other significant film subjects for ARC and Corman were science fiction/horror films, such as The Beast with a Million Eyes (1955), Day the World Ended (1955), The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues (1955), and Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957). ARC only released one film noir during this early period: Female Jungle (1955) - notable as sexpot Jayne Mansfield's first film.
Once ARC changed its name to AIP, Corman and other major producers specialized in lots of sensational science-fiction/horror films, teen-oriented exploitation films, and B-film crime dramas, such as:
- It Conquered the World (1956)
- Girls in Prison (1956)
- Hot Rod Girl (1956)
- The She-Creature (1956)
- Flesh and the Spur (1956) - the last AIP western
- Shake, Rattle & Rock! (1956)
- Runaway Daughters (1956)
- Not of This Earth (1957)
- Naked Paradise (1957) (aka Thunder Over Hawaii) - filmed in Hawaii
- Rock All Night (1957)
- The Undead (1957)
- Sorority Girl (1957)
- The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent (1957)
- Voodoo Woman (1957)
- Dragstrip Girl (1957)
- Motorcycle Gang (1957)
- I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957)
- I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (1957)
- Blood of Dracula (1957)
- Invasion of the Saucer Men (1957)
- Reform School Girl (1957)
- The Amazing Colossal Man (1957)
- Machine Gun Kelly (1958) with Charles Bronson (in his first major role)
- Night of the Blood Beast (1958)
- The Brain Eaters (1958)
- Teenage Caveman (1958)
- She Gods of Shark Reef (1958) - filmed in Hawaii
- Hot Rod Gang (1958)
- How to Make a Monster (1958)
- Terror from the Year 5000 (1958)
- High School Hellcats (1958)
- A Bucket of Blood (1959) - a satirical black comedy
- Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow (1959)
- Diary of a High School Bride (1959)
- The Wasp Woman (1959)
- The Last Woman on Earth (1960)
- Creature From the Haunted Sea (1961)
The Threat of Television:
Hollywood was obviously fearful of television's dawning in the early 1950s. Indeed, the studios forbade their movies and stars from appearing on the small screen at all. Fearful of losing audiences to the screens in their living rooms, Hollywood enticed filmgoers with expensive epics, gimmicky 3D releases, stereo sound, enhanced color technology and widescreen formats such as CinemaScope, VistaVision and Panavision. Bwana Devil (1952) was the first full-length 3D talkie.This is Cinerama (1952) was the first to use a wrap-around, widescreen format, and The Robe (1953), the first movie released in CinemaScope, was recorded in four-track stereo.
All of the major Hollywood studios fought television with what they called "theater television": closed-circuit screenings of TV programs in movie theaters. Since the Big Five studios owned extensive theater chains, this strategy was easily implemented. The Theater Television Network, founded in 1951, aired shows in participating theaters where audiences were provided with costlier programs incorporating political news coverage, prizefights, NCAA games, etc. Although over 100 U.S. theaters had installed theater television by 1952, the phenomenon faded shortly thereafter. And years before HBO, Cinemax or Showtime, an early version of subscription/pay television (called "pay-see" or "toll-video" by Variety) in the late 40s to early 60s equipped regular TV sets with coin-boxes or punch-card systems that, when activated, allowed customers to unscramble the relevant broadcast signal to view special content. Technological and financial issues combined with the threat of government regulation doomed this direct-pay system to failure.
Film attendance declined precipitously as free TV viewing (and the increase in popularity of foreign-language films) made inroads into the entertainment business. In 1951, NBC became America's first nationwide TV network, and in just a few years, 50% of US homes had at least one TV set. In March of 1953, the Academy Awards were televised for the first time by NBC - and the broadcast received the largest single audience in network TV's five-year history. By 1954, NBC's Tonight Show was becoming one of the most popular late-night TV shows. Expensive promotional TV advertising for the scifi flick The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (1953) marked one of the first times that film advertising successfully exploited television to drive people to movie theaters nationally.
Inevitably, the studios came to see that TV wasn't going away and that collaboration could be mutually beneficial. With a steep decline in weekly theatre attendance, studios were forced to find creative ways to make money from television - converted Hollywood studios were beginning to produce more hours of film for TV than for feature films. [In mid-decade, the average film budget was less than one million dollars.]
A number of Hollywood's independent producers created television shows in the late '40s and early '50s. Low-budget westerns (The Roy Rogers Show, The Lone Ranger, etc.), crime/mystery shows (Mark VII Production's Dragnet, MPTV's Adventures of Superman, etc.), and sitcoms (I Love Lucy and Our Miss Brooks). At first, filmed programs ran second to high-quality live dramas, but eventually, pre-recording became the standard mode of production thanks to the profitability of reruns and syndication. By 1953, many major studios became actively involved - notably Disney (with its weekly ABC Disneyland in 1954 promoting the Disneyland theme park and recycling already-released products, and its afternoon TV show The Mickey Mouse Club in 1955). Other TV shows became popular:
- the early sitcom I Love Lucy (on CBS, beginning in 1951) its stars Lucille Ball and husband Desi Arnaz had founded Desilu Productions in 1950
- the family show The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (on ABC, from 1952-1966)
- The Donna Reed Show (on ABC, from 1958-1966)
- The Honeymooners (from 1951 and after)
- Lassie (on CBS, from 1954-1971)
- Gunsmoke (on CBS, from 1955-1975) with James Arness as Matt Dillon
- This is Your Life (on NBC, from 1952-1961)
In the 1955-56 season, the ABC TV show Warner Brothers Presents was the first television program produced by Warner Brothers Pictures, and marked the introduction of the major Hollywood studios into television production. It was a survival tactic for the studios to pioneer in television series production. In the same year, Twentieth Century-Fox Hour played on CBS (from 1955-1957) and MGM's documentary series MGM Parade on ABC. And later, in the mid- to late 50s, Warner Bros. studios produced more TV shows, such as their first hit series Cheyenne (1955-1963 with Clint Walker), Maverick (1957-1962, first with James Garner) and 77 Sunset Strip (1958-1964). By the end of 1957, more than 100 Hollywood-produced television series were being broadcast or in production. By 1960, Hollywood dominated prime time.
In the mid-1950s, major studios began to sell and release older black-and-white B-movies (and film rights) to television for broadcast and viewing, albeit primarily to individual stations, not networks. The first Hollywood feature film to be broadcast on US television (on November 3, 1956), during prime-time, was The Wizard of Oz (1939). In 1961, NBC became the first network to premiere recently released, major studio films on the tube. Its popular weekly show Saturday Night at the Movies, was immediately duplicated by the other networks, and by 1968, every night of the week featured a prime-time movie. This phenomenon lasted through the &rsquo70s, triggering Hollywood to produce its own made-for-TV movies and miniseries beginning in the mid-&rsquo60s. The first made-for-TV movie, broadcast on NBC, was See How They Run (1964).
TV stars became cross-over film stars - the first was Charlton Heston. In early 1950, Western cowboy star Gene Autry was the first film star to announce his appearance in a sponsored TV series. The feature-length, color version of Dragnet (1954), with popular detective TV star Jack Webb (serving as director, producer, and star) as dead-pan LAPD Sgt. Joe Friday, was the first film based on a TV show - the then-popular B/W TV show of the same name ran from 1951-1959. It was memorable for its "Dum, de Dum Dum" theme music (that first made an appearance in the Miklos Rozsa soundtrack for the film noir The Killers (1946)), and the disclaimer: "Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent."
In 1956, the studios lifted the ban against film stars making TV appearances. Fast-talking, cigar-smoking, and quick-witted Groucho Marx (of the famed Marx Brothers) brought his popular radio show You Bet Your Life to television (NBC) as a game show in 1950, with a duck that would descend with $100 if one said the secret word. It lasted until 1961 - its theme music "Hooray for Captain Spaulding" was taken from the Marx Bros.' second film Animal Crackers (1930).
One positive side-effect of the growing influence of American television in the 50s was that it was becoming the proving ground for many aspiring directors. Some of the directors who began in TV in this decade were to make some of Hollywood's best movies in the 60s:
Because of the emergence of television as a major entertainment medium, many studios converted their sound stages for use in television production. Because labor was cheaper abroad, many producers were taking their film production overseas.
Delbert Mann's direction of Paddy Chayefsky's script (initially written as a TV play and produced for NBC Television Playhouse and aired in 1953 with Rod Steiger) for the black and white Marty (1955) about a romantically-insecure and lonely Bronx butcher (Best Actor-winning Ernest Borgnine) who found love with someone his friends called a 'dog'. It was a big winner on the film screen - it was the first American film chosen at the Cannes Film Festival as Best Picture since the award was instituted, and it won four major Academy Awards, including Best Picture from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Because television (a small black and white screen) had become affordable and a permanent fixture in most people's homes, the movies also fought back with gimmicks - color films, bigger screens, and 3-D. Bigger and more colorful films and screens, and big scale, profitable box-office epics, such as Cecil B. DeMille's Samson and Delilah (1949), the popular Biblical story starring long-haired and virile Victor Mature and the beautifully-bewitching Hedy Lamarr with exposed belly-button, and MGM's expensive romantic adventure King Solomon's Mines (1950), filmed on location in Africa, were designed to lure movie-goers back into the theatres. By the mid-50s, more than half of Hollywood's productions were made in color to take Americans away from their B/W TV sets.
Coincidentally, two of the biggest films at the start of the decade, director Henry King's Twelve O'Clock High (1949) about the stress experienced by American bombing units in England, and Delmer Daves' Broken Arrow (1950), an "adult-Western" of the blood-brother relationship between an Indian agent (James Stewart) and Apache chief Cochise (white actor Jeff Chandler), would both become episodic TV series in future years.
Along with Samuel Fuller's Run of the Arrow (1957), Broken Arrow was notable for having a sympathetic depiction of the Native American culture and concerns - the first film to be shot from the Indians' point-of-view for many years. This revisionist effort would be followed years later by the politically-correct, award-winning Dances With Wolves (1990).
Oscars viewership and advertising
While global media outlets provide extensive coverage of the Academy Awards and millions of movie lovers tune in to watch the live show every year, the ABC telecast has suffered visible audience losses for over a decade. Other award formats and live entertainment shows such as the Emmys also face an ongoing decline in viewership numbers as fans increasingly catch up on show highlights online. While fewer fans sit through the three-plus-hour live event and its commercial breaks, advertising revenue at the Academy Awards has continuously surpassed 100 million U.S. dollars since 2015, making the Oscars night ABC's most profitable annual television broadcast. How financial figures and the overall appeal of the show will evolve in 2022 and the years to come depends not only on the format that the ceremony will adapt after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic but, most importantly, the steps that the Academy will take to ensure the inclusion of underrepresented groups on and off-screen.
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