This Week in L.A. History: The Oscars Came to Hollywood


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences holds the first Academy Awards ceremony on May 16, 1929

As the silent era of film was coming to an end in 1929, Louis B. Mayer (of MGM Studios) and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) created a yearly event to honor filmmakers for their work in the industry. The Academy and Mayer decided to host this event in an effort to encourage the innovation and creativity that had begun to take root in Hollywood.

The first Academy Awards ceremony (or “Oscars,” as they’ve affectionately come to be known), was quite different than the annual black-tie affair we are familiar with today: In its first incarnation, a mere 270 people flocked to the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, each of them shelling out five dollars to partake in the evening’s festivities. The event was not televised, and all of the winners were publically announced three months ahead of time. There were only twelve awards categories, including the Unique and Artistic Production award given to the film Wings (which was permanently dropped beginning the following year), and the entire awards ceremony took 15 minutes.

Since its inception, the Academy has given out a total of 2,857 Oscars and has been broadcasted to millions of people worldwide. Eighty-five years later, the Academy Award has become the most prestigious recognition a filmmaker can receive in Hollywood.

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