One of the biggest controversies to hit the Oscars was when Marlon Brando rejected the award for The Godfather and sent a native American woman, Sacheen Littlefeather in his place, to read a speech that blasted Hollywood for its treatment of Native Americans in the film.As the lady delivered the speech, the hall erupted and resounded with the sound of boos coming from the audience.
All through its history, there have many occasions the Oscar has been won and rejected. But few people know that this coveted object has also been stolen.A couple of years ago, Whoopi Goldberg, who won a best supporting actress statuette for Ghost, had sent her Oscar to get cleaned and replated to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles.The Academy in turn sent the statuette to Chicago. On reaching Chicago, the box containing Whoopi s Oscar was found empty. Some time later, it was revealed as found lying in a rubbish bin after thieves stole it. On finding it back, Whoopi was reported as saying, 'The Oscar will never leave my house again'.
The Oscar won by Welles and Herman J Mankiewicz for Citizen Kane in 1941 landed up in the hands of The Dax Foundation, a Los Angeles-based non-profit group.The Oscar is seen as the ultimate symbol of achievement for all movie buffs across the world. Thus, when the foundation decided to cash in its prized possession, there started a full-blown debate on whether selling the Oscar was justified or not. The Academy and the people running the Oscars were particularly unhappy with the idea.Interestingly, when the selling actually took place at the Sotheby's auction, no bid exceeded the reserved price and the statuette failed to sell!
In 1999, Elia Kazan received an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement. Due to his controversial testimony before the House Committee on Un-American Activities during the McCarthy witch-hunts of the 50s where he had turned in some of his friends, there were many who opposed his nomination.Some Hollywood celebrities expressed outrage, and former blacklisted writer Abraham Polonsky even went to the extent of stating that he wished Kazan would be shot onstage.Some footage from the 1999 Oscars suggests that even as three-quarters of those present in the audience gave him a standing ovation, actors like Ed Harris, Nick Nolte, Amy Madigan, Ed Begley, Jr and Holly Hunter refused to applaud.
Back home, the big hue and cry surrounding the entry of Vidhu Vinod Chopra's Eklavya couldn't go unmissed either. Eklavya couldn t make it to the initial nine-movie list and as a result got routed out of the Oscar race.Many Bollywood critics opposed the nomination of the flick and a case was filed against the selection of the movie by the makers of Dharm. Despite all this, the movie was sent to the Oscars before the judgment from the court and finally was left out of the nominees list at the Awards.
Like Marlon Brando, George Scott also rejected the Oscar once. And he went a step further and announced out in the open that the Oscars meant little and were too small to engross him.He said he would be better off watching a hockey match on television rather than be a part of the disgraceful event.
Problems related to race and colour have also permeated the Oscars. Not only have people rejected the awards, there are some who have refused to present them as well.Eddie Murphy made headlines for saying that he didn't want to present Best Picture because of the lack of black actors winning Oscars.
Oscars have not always been sacred even in their own country. There have been times when the Oscar hype has been fizzled out by the hosts themselves.In 2005, host Chris Rock created a stir by calling the event a fashion show that is only watched by homosexuals.The comedian's remarks were reported in a US weekly where he derided the whole affair as an 'idiotic and a pointless fashion parade'. Guess who got dropped out of this 'idiotic' parade next year!
Last year, Oscar presenter Jack Palance was accused of announcing the wrong name on opening the envelope given to him. And once again people tried to reason this out with various theories.Some said Jack couldn't read the lettering inside. Others were of the opinion that while he was calling out the nominees, the name of the first one got stuck into his head. And 'accidentally' that is what he announced.The motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences refuted these ideas out rightly. It was said that had Palance goofed, the mistake would have got correctly immediately. But since, this wasn't the case, the whole episode was nothing but a dramatic (and false) occurrence.