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Fascinating Facts About the Oscar Statuette

Behind its golden veneer lies a rich history

The creators: Cedric Gibbons, MGM’s chief art director, crafted this legendary award with a little help from sculptor George Stanley. Standing 13 ½ inches tall, the team designed a knight with a sword standing on a reel of film. The five spokes in the reel represent the original branches of the Academy: actors, directors, producers, technicians and writers.

The more the merrier:  From the first awards ceremony on May 16, 1929, 2,947 awards have been presented.  Because the presenters do not know how many statuettes will be given due to ties in more than 25 different categories, any surplus awards that are made are kept safely in the Academy’s vault for next year’s affair.

The nickname: The golden man’s official name is The Academy Award of Merit. Even though the origin of this moniker is unclear, one common belief is that Margaret Herrick, once Academy librarian and now executive director, assisted in coining it. She mentioned that the statuette looked just like her Uncle Oscar. The Academy didn’t officially adopt the nickname until 1939. 

Perfection takes time: Since 1982, the Academy has worked with Chicago-based manufacturer R.S. Owens & Company. It takes 3 months to make 50 statuettes. 

Painted plaster to 24-karat gold: Because of a metal shortage during World War II, the Oscar statuettes were filled with painted plaster for three years. Once the war was over, the winners were presented with their rightful 24-karat gold awards. 

Stolen statuettes: Actors aren’t the only ones that can be robbed of their titles. The Academy had some Oscar thieves on their hands in 2000, where two men stole crates filled with 55 statuettes. The crates were found in the trash with some still missing.Three years later during a drug investigation, the FBI eventually discovered the last missing trophy. 

Who has the most Oscar titles?  According to a poll from US WeeklyWalt Disney has a whopping 22 wins and 59 nominations.  Katharine Hepburn has four awards for a leading actress and Daniel Day-Lewis has three awards for a leading actor. Currently, Meryl Streep, with 18, and Jack Nicholson, with 12, hold the record for most acting nominations.