Oscar’s Greatest Moments: 1970 to 1990

As I mentioned in my previous post, I love the Oscars – even this year, when so many unsavory changes are being implemented, I’ll be watching – I can’t imagine missing it. In addition to dressing up with my daughters every year, and having pizza for dinner, I have one more annual tradition – each year for more than 30 years, on the day of the Oscars and before the telecast begins, I watch my video of Oscar’s Greatest Moments. It’s a compilation of clips from Oscar broadcasts from 1970 to 1990, and it is a sheer delight. Hosted by then-Academy president Karl Malden, the video contains everything from Sally Field’s “You like me” acceptance speech to Marlon Brando’s refusal of his Oscar for The Godfather, via his representative, Sacheen Littlefeather.

No matter how many times I see this video, there are parts that make me laugh and parts that make me tear up, and I sit watching it, riveted, as if I’ve never seen it before. It just warms my heart and brings back a flood of memories. As I continue to prepare for tonight’s event, I’m offering up some of my (many, many) favorite clips from the video:

In 1977, the year that Sylvester Stallone was nominated for Rocky, Stallone took the stage to present an award. Shortly after he started talking, Stallone was surprised on stage by Muhammad Ali, who jokingly accused Stallone of stealing his life story for the Rocky script, and challenged Stallone to an impromptu boxing bout. Afterward this amusing exchange, Stallone hugged Ali and told the audience, “I just gotta say one thing – I may not win anything here tonight in the form of an Oscar, but I really feel it’s an amazing privilege to be standing next to a one hundred percent, certified legend, and it’s something I’m going to treasure for the rest of my life.” It was truly a heartfelt moment.

Paul Hogan, nominated for his titular role in Crocodile Dundee, gave the crowd at the 1987 Oscars some tips for making the broadcast more enjoyable for television viewers.  He told them to remember the “three Gs” when making acceptance speeches: “Be gracious. Be grateful. Get off.” He also discouraged nominees from giving the “I’m so glad he won instead of me smile” if their names were not called to receive the golden statuette. “Think of the television audience – give us a bit of variety. Maybe one or two of you could burst into tears. Storming out of the building in a huff would be nice. Or what’s wrong with a bit of old-fashioned booing?” So funny.

When Vanessa Redgrave accepted her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Julia in 1978, she made a controversial reference to “Zionist hoodlums” who’d objected to her involvement with a documentary on Palestine. A smattering of boos could be heard after Redgrave’s comment and later in the broadcast, screenwriter Paddy Chayevsky chastised Redgrave, saying he was “sick and tired of people exploiting the occasion of the Academy Awards for the propagation of their own political propaganda.” Whoa!

Several moments choke me up every time I watch the video. In her 1991 acceptance speech for Misery, Kathy Bates made a brief but heartbreaking reference to her father who, she said, “I hope is watching somewhere.” in 1972, the Academy gave an honorary statue to Charlie Chaplin, who’d returned to Los Angeles after a self-imposed 20-year exile. Obviously touched by the reported 12-minute ovation from the audience, Chaplin said, “Oh, thank you so much. An emotional moment for me, and words seem so futile, so feeble. I can only say thank you for the honor of inviting me here and, oh, you’re wonderful, sweet people. Thank you.”

William Holden and Barbara Stanwyck presented an award together in 1978; Holden recalled that he’d appeared with Stanwyck in Golden Boy 39 years previously and shared with the audience that he was in danger of being fired from the film. “But due to this lovely human being, and her interest and understanding and her professional integrity, and her encouragement, and above all her generosity, I am here tonight.” Stanwyck was surprised and visibly moved by Holden’s impromptu speech. In 1982, the year following Holden’s untimely death at the age of 63, Stanwyck (who never won a competitive Oscar) was given an honorary award. In her acceptance speech, she referenced the appearance with Holden from a few years before: “I loved him very much and I miss him,” Stanwyck said in a voice choked with emotion. “He always wished that I would get an Oscar. And so tonight, my Golden Boy, you’ve got your wish.”

Time for me to get dressed and ready for the Oscar festivities to begin. If you love the Oscars like I love the Oscars, and you’ve never seen this video, I hope you can track it down – it’s absolutely marvelous.

Happy Oscars!

~ by shadowsandsatin on March 27, 2022.

4 Responses to “Oscar’s Greatest Moments: 1970 to 1990”

  1. I agree with all you said about the Oscar’s greatest moments. One word though, Marlos Brando’s refusal was for The Godfather. All the best.

  2. Excellent…. glad to see there are a few of us that still look forward to this night… despite times being, well, changing …as always. Brava !

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