Who is Oscar, anyway? And other Academy Awards secrets


At last, we’ve almost reached the 92nd Academy Awards, the end of our months-long trek through awards show season. And what a tumultuous trek it’s been.

Much has been made of the Oscars’ remove from reality, perhaps rightly so. Again, this year, the Oscars largely failed to recognize women and people of color despite calls from the public to honor their work.

But the truth is, the Academy has always made weird, sometimes wildly divisive choices. We’ll clue you into a few of the award show’s open secrets.

Oscar is just some guy

The gold-plated, unclothed man isn’t named for anyone famous. A staunch foot tall and 8.5 pounds, the statue was nicknamed for the relative of someone in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The way the Academy tells it, former Academy librarian Margaret Herrick said the statue looked like her Uncle Oscar in the first few years of the awards’ existence. The nickname wasn’t officially adopted until the 11th ceremony in 1939.

Pictured from left to right: Oscar, Oscar and Oscar are flanked by Oscar, Oscar and a few more Oscars.

Oscar’s real name is “the Academy Award of Merit,” but that’s 17 letters longer and thus, excessive.

For a few years, Oscars weren’t gold

During World War II, some Oscars were made with painted plaster rather than the usual solid bronze and 24-karat gold to account for metal shortages. Winners that took home the makeshift Oscars could later trade them in for the real thing.

You can go to the Oscars if you’re not famous

It’s less exciting than it sounds. The Oscars recruits seat fillers, typically friends of industry insiders or relatives of PricewaterhouseCoopers accountants (who oversee the vote counting), to fill seats and not much else.

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