The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Science was founded in 1927. Soon afterwards, a dinner was hosted in the Crystal Ballroom of the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. The main motto of this meeting was to discuss the new organisation's aims and goals. While there were numerous pints that were discussed that night, one of the prime objectives that were talked about was to provide a way for recognising the excellent achievements in the field of motion picture production. This would, in turn, become a driving force for people to achieve better levels of quality when it comes to cinema.
This was the first of many meetings that happened to discuss the topic. In one of these meetings, it was the MGM art director Cedric Gibbons who drew an image of a knight holding a sword and standing tall in front of a film's reel. The five spokes of the reel represented the Academy's original five branches - actors, directors, producers, technicians, and writers – while the sword represented protection for the industry's health and progress. The design was instantly chosen by the Board of Directors and appeared on the cover of the Academy magazine's November 1927 edition. Gibbons picked Los Angeles sculptor George Stanley to create his idea in three dimensions in early 1928. They discussed the design concept together – no live models or sketches were utilised – and Stanley created many variants from which Gibbons chose one. The completed design simplified the knight's shape and relocated the film reel beneath its feet. The now-iconic figurine was created.
Over 3,000 statuettes have been given since the first awards luncheon on May 16, 1929, at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel's Blossom Room. Every January, fresh golden statuettes are hand-cast in bronze by the New York-based Polich Tallix Fine Art Foundry before being 24-karat gold-plated by Epner Technology, a known high-tech specification electroplating firm in Brooklyn.
The sculpture measures 131/2 inches tall and weighs 81/2 pounds. The statuette's shape has never altered since its invention, however, the size of the base has fluctuated until the current standard was set in 1945. The statuette is officially titled the Academy Award® of Merit, although it is better known by its moniker, Oscar, the origins of which are unknown. According to popular legend, Academy librarian and ultimately executive director Margaret Herrick felt it resembled her Uncle Oscar and told the Academy employees so, and the Academy personnel began referring to it as Oscar. In any event, by the sixth Academy Awards ceremony in 1934, Hollywood journalist Sidney Skolsky had coined the moniker in relation to Katharine Hepburn's first Best Actress triumph. The moniker was not formally adopted by the Academy until 1939.
The 15 statuettes presented at the opening ceremonies were made of solid gold-plated bronze. Within a few years, the bronze was replaced with Britannia metal, a pewter-like alloy that made it simpler to achieve the flawless finish on the statuettes. For three years during World War II, Oscars® were manufactured of painted plaster because of a metals scarcity. Following the war, all of the plaster figures that had been awarded were swapped for gold-plated metal figures.
The Academy, on the other hand, will not know how many statuettes it will award until the envelopes are opened on Oscar Night. Although the number of categories will be known ahead of time, the potential of ties and several awardees splitting the prize into some categories makes the actual number of Oscar statuettes to be awarded unclear. Any extra awards, as in past years, will be stored in the Academy's vault until next year's gala.
Except in years when the Academy made a big spectacle of delivering the Oscars to Los Angeles, they were usually sent by the ordinary carriers across the land. However, only a few weeks before the Oscars were to be presented, that year's cargo of Oscars was stolen from the overland carrier's loading pier. They were rescued a week later, but not without some tense days in between. Since then, the Academy has kept an extra set of statuettes on standby for future ceremonies.
The Oscar statuette is the world's most recognisable prize. Its triumph as a symbol of cinematic prowess would no certainly have astounded those who attended that dinner more than 80 years ago, as well as its designer, Cedric Gibbons.
It still stands without equal now, as it has since 1929, atop the mantels of history's greatest filmmakers.