Skip to main contentSkip to footer

10 facts you might not know about the Oscars

The awards ceremony is back this weekend

oscars statues
Diane Shipley
Diane ShipleySenior Online Writer
Share this:

Movie-lovers rejoice: the 93rd Academy Awards is almost here!

The televised ceremony will take place on Sunday, although the coronavirus pandemic means it will take a slightly different form, with a reduced audience capacity, pre-ceremony temperature checks and masks worn during commercial breaks.

SEE: Amanda Seyfried has best reaction to first-time Oscar nomination

Some things are sure to remain the same, however, and no doubt Hollywood is set for another classic evening filled with glamour, star power, and perhaps a surprise winner or two!

Ahead of the biggest night on Tinseltown's calendar, why not brush up on your knowledge of the Academy Awards with ten lesser-known facts about the Oscars?

Read on to find out more…

WATCH: The most fabulous Oscars red carpet fashion 

Why is it called an Oscar?

That's still up for debate!

One theory is that screen legend Bette Davis, who was a president of the Academy in 1941, coined the nickname in honour of her first husband, Harmon Oscar Nelson.

SEE: 18 of the best hair & makeup looks at the Oscars

MORE: Natalie Portman makes statement over her 'deeply offensive' Oscars outfit

Others claim that it originated from the Academy's former executive secretary Margaret Herrick, who said the statuette reminded her of her cousin Oscar.

Whatever the reason, the first press reference to the Academy Awards as Oscars came in March 1934 and the Academy officially adopted the name for its trophies five years later.  


The inspiration for the statuette's name is unknown

Who has won the most Oscars?

Walt Disney has never been beaten.

The king of animation was nominated more than 50 times and won an incredible 22 Oscars.

The runners-up are Edith Head, who took home eight Oscars for Costume Design and composer Alan Menken, again with eight.

When it comes to performers, however, Katharine Hepburn holds the record, winning four Oscars throughout her career, despite never attending the ceremony!

An acting purist, she always said she was in it for the work, not the recognition.

Nevertheless, she won Best Actress for 1933's Morning Glory as well as Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967), The Lion in Winter (1968) and On Golden Pond (1982).

katharine hepburn© Photo: Getty Images

Katharine Hepburn won four Oscars for acting

Ingrid Bergman won three Oscars, as have Daniel Day-Lewis, Jack Nicolson and Meryl Streep.

Which film has the most Oscar nominations?

Throughout Oscar history, three films have received an incredible 14 nominations: 1950's All About Eve, Titanic in 1997, and 2016 almost-winner La La Land.

Seven more films received a still super impressive 13 nominations between 1939 and 2017, including Gone with the Wind, Forrest Gump, Shakespeare in Love, and The Shape of Water.

Meanwhile, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was the big winner in 2003, dominating the awards ceremony and setting records for the number of categories won with 11.

oscars location© Photo: Getty Images

The 2021 Oscars are being held at Union Station in Los Angeles

Which films have won for Best Film, Actor, Actress, Director and Screenplay?

The big five awards have only been won by three films so far, and what's more, it's almost thirty years since a movie bagged them all.

Those winners are: It Happened One Night (1935), 1976's One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Silence of The Lambs in 1992.

Who has the most Oscar nominations but has never won?

The living performer with the most Oscar nominations without a win is Glenn Close, who has been nominated eight times.

She's followed by Amy Adams, with six nominations.

Peter O'Toole, who died in 2013, was also nominated eight times but was awarded an Academy Honorary Award in 2002.

Elizabeth Taylor's on-off love interest Richard Burton had seven nominations, while Deborah Kerr and Thelma Ritter had six – but Deborah also received an honorary Oscar.

amy adams© Photo: Getty Images

Amy Adams has been nominated six times

Have any nominees ever presented themselves with an Oscar?

Weirdly enough, yes! Way back in 1931, Norma Shearer both announced and then won the award for Best Actress for her performance in The Divorcee.

After that, the Academy wisely stopped nominees from announcing their own categories.

Who was the first Oscar to win an Oscar?

We suppose it was inevitable, really, but it didn't happen until 1942 when composer Oscar Hammerstein II won for the song The Last Time I Saw Paris from Lady Be Good.

He bagged another namesake award for It Might as Well Be Spring from State Fair four years later.

Who is the youngest Oscar winner?

Tatum O'Neal bagged her acting award for Paper Moon (in which she starred alongside her father, Ryan O'Neal) back in 1973.

At the other end of the scale, Christopher Plummer's win at the age of 82 for Best Supporting Actor in 2010's Beginners makes him the oldest performer to take home an Oscar.

parasite oscars© Photo: Getty Images

Parasite was a surprise winner in 2020

Has anyone ever rejected an Oscar?

Yes, although only three times.

Writer Dudley Nichols won the 1935 Oscar for Best Screenplay for The Informer but turned it down temporarily due to a writers' strike, finally accepting it three years later.

Best Actor nominee George C. Scott, who called the Oscars a "meat parade", won for his barnstorming performance in Patton in 1971 but it was against his wishes – he had even sent a telegram to the Academy asking to not be nominated.

A producer from the film accepted the award on George's behalf but it was quickly returned.

In 1973, Marlon Brando was recognised for his iconic performance as Don Corleone in The Godfather, but the actor sent Native American representative Sacheen Littlefeather to make a speech instead, in protest at the U.S government's treatment of indigenous citizens.

His Oscar was reportedly taken home by Roger Moore.

marlon brando© Photo: Getty Images

Marlon Brando refused to accept his Oscar for The Godfather

What happens if the Oscars finishes early?

What with advertisements, all those emotional speeches and (occasionally) a mix-up over who's actually won, the show has become notorious for running long.

But the opposite can happen!

Back in 1959, Jerry Lewis was hosting when the Oscars finished 20 minutes before it was due to end.

The comedian and actor grabbed the conductor’s baton and led the orchestra in song, proposing that the audience sing There’s No Business Like Show Business 300 times.

NBC, who were broadcasting the ceremony, cut to a sports show instead.

Like this story? Sign up to our newsletter to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

More TV and Film

See more