The Academy awards were first presented May 16, 1929 at a private dinner held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel with about 270 guests. The cost of a single ticket for that night’s ceremony was $5 ($69 as of 2014).
Winners had been announced to the media three months earlier with Emil Jannings as the first Best Actor awarded for his performances in “The Last Command” and “The Way of All Flesh.”
IronicallyRin Tin Tin, Emil had to return to Europe before the ceremony, so the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences agreed to present him with the prize earlier, making him the first Academy Award winner in history.
During the 15 minute ceremony, fifteen statuettes were awarded to the honored artists, directors and other professionals for work done in a certain film-making category, not for a specific film over the course of the last two years.
The post Academy Awards party were held at the Mayfair Hotel later that night.
It is worth noting that, according to Susan Orlean, author of Rin Tin Tin: The Life and The Legend (Simon and Schuster, 2011), Emil Jannings was not actually the winner of the first best actor vote, but the runner-up. While researching her book, Susan Orlean discovered that it was in fact the German Shepard dog “Rin Tin Tin” who won the vote as he was one of the biggest movie stars of his time. The Academy, however, worried about being taken seriously if they awarded the first Oscar to a dog. They then chose to award to Oscar to the human runner-up which was Emil Jannings.
For the second Academy Awards in 1930, the results were given to newspapers only for publication at 11:00 pm on the night of the awards.
Then for the fourth Academy Awards in 1932, the system changed and the recipients were honored for a specific performance in a single film. In 1935, the Academy changed the eligibility period to a single year.
In 1940, the Los Angeles Times announced the winners before the ceremony began and as a result, since 1941 the Academy has used a sealed envelope to reveal the name of the winners.
Then the Academy Awards ceremony was first televised in 1953.
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