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1936: Dudley Nichols declines his award

Controversies started early in Oscar history. In the fifth-ever ceremony, screenwriter Dudley Nichols (above right) turned down the award he won for The Informer. The Screen Writers Guild was still new in Hollywood and studios were trying to prevent unionization. To promote their cause, the Screen Actors Guild and the Writers Guild asked members to boycott the ceremony. While most stars showed up for Oscar night, Nichols stuck to the boycott and skipped the ceremony. A few years later he was elected head of the guild.

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1940: Hattie McDaniel becomes the first black Oscar winner

The Oscars had been doling out little gold men since 1929, but it wasn’t until 1940 that a black actor won an Oscar. Hattie McDaniel took home the Supporting Actress prize for her work in Gone With the Wind, but even being a newly minted Oscar winner didn’t spare her from the cruel indignities of segregation—McDaniel had to sit at the back of the venue, separate from the rest of the cast. It would be 51 more years until the next African American woman won an acting Oscar: Whoopi Goldberg took one home for her supporting role in Ghost.

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1958: Donald Duck co-hosts the Oscars

Years before CGI and hologram technology made this kind of stunt a cinch, the Oscars had Donald Duck host a portion of the show. The animated character appeared on film and interacted with the show’s other hosts—Bob Hope, Jack Lemmon, David Niven, Rosalind Russell, and James Stewart. No word on whether Donald had to wear trousers for the occasion.

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1961: Elizabeth Taylor wins for Butterfield 8 after illness and scandal

Elizabeth Taylor was used to being the center of Hollywood gossip, but she was in the eye of a scandalous hurricane after her affair with Eddie Fisher came to light. Fisher was married to America’s sweetheart, Debbie Reynolds, at the time and Hollywood’s denizens were clutching their pearls in horror. When Taylor took the role of a high-class call girl in Butterfield 8, costarring with Fisher, it raised even more eyebrows. Taylor garnered sympathy, though, when she wound up gravely ill with pneumonia. She went on to win her lone Oscar for her work in the film, arriving at the ceremony frail and gasping for breath.

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1964: Sidney Poitier wins the Best Actor Oscar

Oscar voters awarded Sidney Poitier’s powerful performance in Lilies of the Field with the Best Actor Oscar, in a packed field that included Rex Harrison (Cleopatra) and Paul Newman (Hud). Poitier was the first black man to win in the Best Actor category, and in his acceptance speech he noted that it was “a long journey to this moment.” Frustratingly, when Anne Bancroft gave Poitier a peck on the cheek while handing him the award, racists got all riled up. It would be another 38 years before another black man won the Best Actor prize—Denzel Washington took the award in 2001 for Training Day.

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1969: Barbra Streisand and Katharine Hepburn tie for Best Actress

Ties in Oscar voting are incredibly rare, but it does happen, as evidenced by the 1969 Oscar for Best Actress, which was shared by Katharine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand. Presenter Ingrid Bergman was shocked when she opened the envelope. The tie was made less awkward by the fact that Hepburn, who won for The Lion in Winter, per her custom, didn’t attend the show, leaving Streisand to revel in the moment of her first Oscar win for Funny Girl.

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1970: George C. Scott refuses his Oscar

George C. Scott wasn’t known for messing around, so when he told the Academy that he wasn’t coming to their awards show, he meant it. “The ceremonies are a two-hour meat parade, a public display with contrived suspense for economic reasons,” George C. Scott “harrumphed to the press,” according to the Los Angeles Times, and he had no intention of being involved. Scott couldn’t prevent himself from being nominated, though, and he couldn’t stop Oscar voters from admiring his work in Patton. He won for Best Actor, but when his name was called (“Oh my god,” said presenter Goldie Hawn, when she realized what was going to happen), he was far, far from Hollywood and all its hoopla. Patton producer Frank McCarthy accepted the award instead.

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1973: Sacheen Littlefeather refuses an Oscar on Marlon Brando’s behalf

Marlon Brando was awarded Best Actor for his role in The Godfather. So when Native American actress and activist Sacheen Littlefeather stepped onto the Academy Awards stage instead, it was a huge surprise. But what she had to say was even more astonishing. “I’m representing Marlon Brando this evening,” said Littlefeather, “and he has asked me to tell you…that he very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award, the reasons for this being the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry.” Her speech was greeted by a mixture of booing and applause; Littlefeather later said, “John Wayne was in the wings, ready to have me taken off stage. “

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1974: A streaker hits the Oscars stage

Just as actor David Niven was about to introduce Elizabeth Taylor, Robert Opel streaked across the stage in his birthday suit. Niven barely blinked before coolly responding, “Isn’t it fascinating to think that probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings?” Perhaps more shocking than the streaking is the fact that Opel wasn’t arrested or even kicked out of the show. In fact, he held a press conference, telling reporters: “People shouldn’t be ashamed of being nude in public. Besides, it is a hell of a way to launch a career.”

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1986: Cher and her headdress make a splash

Cher always knows how to make a statement, so when her very serious performance in Mask was overlooked by the Academy, she took to the red carpet in an outfit that ensured she could not be overlooked again. She wore a jaw-dropping black beaded outfit with matching feather headpiece, created by her frequent design collaborator Bob Mackie. When asked about her outré ensemble, she famously said, “As you can see, I did receive my Academy booklet on how to dress like a serious actress.” She’s not only a fashion icon, but a shade icon, too.

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1989: Rob Lowe and Snow White duet on stage

How do you tick off Mary Poppins herself? Have Rob Lowe sing a riff on “Proud Mary” with Snow White, apparently. At the 61st Academy Awards, Rob Lowe took the stage with Snow White (played by Eileen Bowman) and performed a 15-minute off-key and off-target sketch that will live in Oscar infamy. Not only did the New York Times write that the bit had earned “a permanent place in the annals of Oscar embarrassments,” but the show was sued by Disney, and 17 celebrities, including Paul Newman, Gregory Peck, Billy Wilder, and Julie Andrews (yes, Mary Poppins), all wrote a letter calling the performance “an embarrassment to both the Academy and the entire picture industry.” It’s easier to find videos of Bigfoot than of this routine online.

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1992: Jack Palance did push-ups on the stage

When Jack Palance won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in City Slickers he used the opportunity to make a point about ageism in Hollywood. He said that directors were always hesitant to cast men of his age, as they weren’t sure what they could or could not do. To prove that he was capable of almost anything, he dropped to the stage for some one-armed push-ups. That’ll do it.

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1993: Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, and Richard Gere are banned for life…sort of

Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, and Richard Gere used their place on the Oscars stage to speak out about political causes dear to their hearts. (Sarandon and Robbins spoke out about the treatment of HIV-positive Haitians, while Richard Gere denounced China’s invasion of Tibet.) The uproar over their politicization of the Academy Awards caused all three of them to be banned for life from the show. That ban disappeared, though, when Sarandon won Best Actress in 1996 for Dead Man Walking, followed by Robbins’ win for Best Supporting Actor in 2004 for Mystic River. No word on whether Richard Gere’s ban has also been mysteriously lifted….

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1993: Marisa Tomei wins Best Supporting Actress Oscar

Marisa Tomei was a dark horse contender in the 1993 Oscar race; she played the brash, loud Mona Lisa Vito in the comedy My Cousin Vinny, which is not your typical Oscars fare. Plus, she was up against acting powerhouses like Judy Davis, Vanessa Redgrave, and Miranda Richardson. It seemed impossible that she would win, yet it was Tomei’s name that Jack Palance announced. Tomei’s victory was so unexpected that there’s a persistent rumor that Palance named the wrong person, but the Academy and even those exacting accountants who verify the results vehemently deny it.

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1999: Shakespeare in Love beats Saving Private Ryan for Best Picture

In one of the greatest upsets in Oscar history, the historical rom-com that starred Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes (the latter as the Bard himself) somehow beat Steven Spielberg’s wartime epic Saving Private Ryan for Best Picture. Spielberg didn’t go home empty-handed, though: He was named Best Director.

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1999: Roberto Benigni leaps onto chairs and up to the stage

Italian actor-director Benigni took home Best Foreign Language Film for his work in the heartbreaking Life Is Beautiful. He earned it, too, for making a movie about the Holocaust that was somehow also laugh-out-loud funny. Benigni was so excited when Sophia Loren announced him as the winner that (with a little assist from Steven Spielberg) he stood on top of his chair and waved his hands in pure joy. He then climbed over chairs (and the people sitting in them) before hopping up the aisle toward the stage.

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1999: Elia Kazan wins an honorary Oscar

There’s no doubt that Elia Kazan is one of Hollywood’s great directors, with films like On the Waterfront and A Streetcar Named Desire to his credit. But he also made a lot of enemies during the McCarthy era by naming people as suspected Communists. Decades later, Hollywood granted him an honorary Oscar, but it was still a controversial move. The audience was split over how to react; as the Los Angeles Times reported, Warren Beatty and Meryl Streep gave a standing ovation, and Steven Spielberg opted to applaud from his seat, while Nick Nolte and Ed Harris neither stood nor clapped.

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2000: Angelina Jolie says she’s “so in love” with her brother

Angelina Jolie is such a PR pro now that it’s hard to imagine she’s ever caused a kerfuffle. But that’s what she did when accepting her Best Supporting Actress award in 2000. After hugging her brother, James Haven, who accompanied her to the ceremony, Jolie began her speech by saying, “I’m in shock and I’m so in love with my brother right now…he just held me and said that he loves me and I know that he’s so happy for me.” (Not to mention the controversial kiss the siblings shared on the red carpet that evening, which mirrored the one they exchanged at the Golden Globes just months earlier.)

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2001: Björk is a swan, lays egg on the red carpet

With her Dancer in the Dark number “I’ve Seen It All” nominated for Best Original Song, Icelandic songbird Björk took to the Academy Awards in a feathered flight of fancy. Dressed in a Marjan Pejoski swan dress, the singer also dropped (laid?) an egg on the red carpet to complete the outfit. It became one of the most memorable dresses ever to grace the Oscars carpet; Pejoski later told The Hollywood Reporter, “Without people like her, it would be boring.” Too true.

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2002: Halle Berry is the first African American actress to win Best Actress

Halle Berry played Leticia Musgrove in Monster’s Ball, a single mother who becomes involved with the racist man who executed her husband. When she won the Best Actress award in 2002 for her performance, she wept on stage. “This moment is so much bigger than me,” she said in her acceptance speech. “This moment is for Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll. It’s for the women that stand beside me—Jada Pinkett, Angela Bassett—and it’s for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened.” However, no black women have won the award since.

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2003: Adrien Brody kisses Halle Berry

Adrien Brody knew how to take advantage of a moment. When he won Best Actor for The Pianist in 2003 he grabbed his gold statue–and the girl. He planted a huge kiss on the unsuspecting Halle Berry, who was just trying to do her job and give the man his award. She went along with it, but the surprise smooch struck a sour note for many.

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2006: Crash beats critical darling Brokeback Mountain

Going into the awards show, the presumed favorite for Best Picture was the critically acclaimed Brokeback Mountain, Ang Lee’s cowboy love story starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger. It was a such a shock when Crash was announced that even presenter Jack Nicholson seemed stunned. The film is now regularly referred to as one of the worst Best Picture winners of all time.

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2009: Heath Ledger wins a posthumous Oscar

It was a bittersweet moment when Heath Ledger’s name was called at the 2009 Oscars. He had won the Best Supporting Actor award for his work in The Dark Knight, but had passed away from an overdose months before. In a somber moment, Ledger’s family accepted the statuette on behalf of his then three-year-old daughter, Matilda.

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2011: Melissa Leo drops the F-bomb

Best Supporting Actress Melissa Leo might have won in 2011 for her role in The Fighter, but it was another F-word that got her in trouble on Oscars night. Flummoxed by her win, Leo got to the stage and let loose. “When I watched Kate [Winslet] two years ago, it looked so fucking easy!” she said. Somewhat surprisingly, it was the first time anyone had ever dropped the F-bomb on the Oscars mic. No harm, no foul (word), though—the censors caught and bleeped the swear.

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2013: Jennifer Lawrence falls down

Jennifer Lawrence would probably agree that this now-classic gaffe is something that would only happen to her. On her way to accept the award for Best Actress for her Silver Linings Playbook role, Lawrence tripped on her dress while ascending the stairs. Luckily, Hugh Jackman was there to help her to her feet, and Lawrence took the stage in good humor. The impromptu spill earned her a standing ovation. “You guys are just standing up because you feel bad that I fell,” she joked in her acceptance speech. “That’s really embarrassing.”

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2013: Jennifer Lawrence flips the bird in the press room

And after J.Law fell on the stairs and collected her Best Actress award, she flipped the bird in the press room. Was she joking? Was she serious? Who knows!

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2014: John Travolta introduces “Adele Dazeem”

John Travolta should have practiced his lines a little more before taking the stage at the Oscars. When he introduced Idina Menzel, he stumbled over the Frozen star’s name. In a moment the internet loved, the actor said, “Please welcome the wickedly talented, one and only Adele Dazeem.” Twitter couldn’t, ahem, let it go, and quickly supplied jokes about the flub. Menzel got her revenge, though. In 2015 she hit the Oscars stage with her “dear friend Glom Gazingo.” Who’s that? John Travolta, of course.

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2014: Ellen’s star-power selfie

If Bradley Cooper ever wanted out of Hollywood, maybe he could make it as a photographer. The actor helped host Ellen DeGeneres snap a selfie with other A-listers, including Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and Lupita Nyong’o. Ellen tweeted the photo with the caption, “If only Bradley’s arm was longer. Best photo ever,” and within an hour it became the most retweeted photo of all time.

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2016: Chris Rock brings Stacey Dash on stage

While #OscarSoWhite was the go-to hashtag about 2016’s embarrassingly monochromatic nominees, host Chris Rock’s monologue made #OscarsSoAwkward, too. Rock boldly addressed the race issue head-on, unapologetically (and rightly) eviscerating Hollywood for its long history of racism. “I’m here at the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the White People’s Choice Awards,” he said. “You realize if they nominated hosts, I wouldn’t even get this job. Y’all would be watching Neil Patrick Harris right now.” But when he brought out former Fox News commentator Stacey Dash, calling her the show’s “new director of our minority outreach program,” the joke tanked—hard. And while some knew that Dash had previously called for the dissolution of both BET and Black History Month, many audience members had no idea who she was or why she was there—not a great recipe for a joke.

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2017: Moonlight wins Best Picture after La La Land is mistakenly announced

The Best Picture announcement is always the exciting culmination of a lengthy, glitzy night of honors. But in 2017, it was even more surprising than usual. Presenter Warren Beatty read out the wrong winner, La La Land, after mistakenly being given the wrong card—a duplicate of the Best Actress card that bore Emma Stone’s name for her La La Land performance. Only once the film’s cast and crew had arrived on stage was the error corrected, and La La Landproducer Jordan Horowitz took to the mic to say, “I’m sorry, there’s a mistake. Moonlight, you guys won best picture.”

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