Oscarmania illuminates the history of movies

March 22, 1991|By Michael Mills | Michael Mills,Cox News Service

HE'S LITTLE MORE than a foot tall and weighs about 8 pounds, but almost everyone in Hollywood wants to take him home.

He's Oscar, the funny-looking fellow handed out every year by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He'll be the most talked-about figure in the film industry until Monday night, when the awards are presented.

Between now and then, the Academy Awards will be dissected from every conceivable angle. Can Oscar be "bought" with expensive advertising campaigns? Does winning him make an economic difference? Who are the odds-on favorites to win and why?

Oscarmania may be illuminating for what it says about the movie-making community, but it also gets tiresome. Better to keep in mind that the whole enterprise is a game, a sort of sophisticated spectator sport with its own folklore and statistics.

With that in mind, let's browse the corridors of Oscar history.

* Only performers who won for playing the same role in different films: Marlon Brando for "The Godfather" and Robert De Niro for "The Godfather Part II." Both played Don Vito Corleone.

* Only performers nominated twice for the same role in different films: Bing Crosby as Father O'Malley in "Going My Way" and "The Bells of St. Marys"; Peter O'Toole as Henry II in "Becket" and "The Lion in Winter"; Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in "The Godfather" and "The Godfather Part II."

* Only performer nominated twice for the same role in the same film: Barry Fitzgerald, nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor for "Going My Way." (Academy rules were changed to prevent this.)

* Sisters who competed for Best Actress in the same year: Joan Fontaine for "Suspicion" and Olivia de Havilland for "Hold Back the Dawn" (Fontaine won); Vanessa Redgrave for "Morgan!" and Lynn Redgrave for "Georgy Girl" (neither won).

* Only Oscar-winning performers who were brother and sister: Lionel Barrymore for "A Free Soul" and Ethel Barrymore for "None But the Lonely Heart" (Shirley MacLaine won for "Terms of Endearment," but brother Warren Beatty's Oscar for "Reds" was for directing).

* Only actress to win for playing a male character: Linda Hunt as Billy Kwan in "The Year of Living Dangerously."

* First person to refuse an Oscar: writer Dudley Nichols for "The Informer."

* First performer to refuse an Oscar: George C. Scott for "Patton."

* Only performers to have won Tonys, Emmys and Grammys as well as Oscars: Helen Hayes and Rita Moreno.

* Only tie for Best Actor: Wallace Beery for "The Champ" and Fredric March for "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."

* Only tie for Best Actress: Katharine Hepburn for "The Lion in Winter" and Barbra Streisand for "Funny Girl."

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