The Anatomy of an Oscar Statuette

Who’s the guy? What’s it made of? What happens to the extras?

Since the academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences started giving out accolades in 1929, over 3,000 Oscar statuettes have gone home in the hands of Hollywood’s most lauded actors, directors, cinematographers, and more. With 2018 being a standout year in film, the 91st Academy Awards are sure to be as surprising as ever (but hopefully not as surprising as the time La La Land won then lost Best Picture). Here are some fun facts about L.A.’s favorite little gold man that will come in handy at your viewing party.


The Man

Urban legend has it that the award earned its moniker when an academy librarian commented that it looked like her Uncle Oscar, but some say the sword-clutching knight was modeled after Mexican director and actor Emilio Fernández. Fernández supposedly posed nude for statue designer Cedric Gibbons before L.A. sculptor George Stanley rendered it, though the academy maintains that there was
no model.

The Metal

The solid-bronze statues are cast at New York foundry Polich Tallix and buffed to a shiny finish before receiving their 24-karat gold coating from Brooklyn’s Epner Technology (making 50 awards takes about three months). Once completed, each statue weighs in at 8½ pounds—as much as a newborn baby.

The Film Reel

Sandwiched between Oscar’s feet and a base made of black-nickel-plated spun brass you’ll find a tiny golden film reel. Its five spokes represent each of the original branches of the academy: actors, directors, producers, technicians, and writers. Today there are more
than 15 branches.

The Nameplate

To assure the secrecy of the academy’s picks before presenters pull them from the envelope, the Oscars given out on stage remain totally nameless. A nameplate is pre-engraved for every nominee, and it’s only at the Governors Ball—the super swanky party
that follows the ceremony—that the winners can get them attached to their statue.

The Vault

Since nobody knows who will win, nobody knows exactly how many statues will be needed Oscar night. In the Best Picture category, for instance, each producer gets one, and the number of producers can vary by film. To be safe, surplus statues are produced each year. The trophies that aren’t used are locked away in the academy’s vault for the following year’s ceremony.


RELATED: In L.A., the Economic Impact of the Oscars Is Huge


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