The times they were a-changing. Drugs, hippies, the youth movement, civil rights demonstrations, the Kennedy assassination: Many films dealt with these social and political upheavals. But you couldn't tell by Oscar. Relevant was out; big was in. The Academy awarded either historical epics (Ben-Hur, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia, A Man for All Seasons) or blockbuster musicals (Gigi, West Side Story, My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music). The most controversial move on the Academy's part was to issue a formal slap to those who tried to "buy" Oscar nominations by purchasing self-congratulatory ads in the trade papers. Few paid heed.
Lovebirds: Joanne Woodward, the new Mrs. Paul Newman, collected her 1957 Oscar for The Three Faces of Eve in a $100 dress she made herself. Joan Crawford claimed Hollywood glamour "had been set back 20 years." When Paul finally won his Oscar, 29 years later, clothes weren't a problem. He didn't show up at all.
Double Liz: Sporting a tracheotomy scar from a near-fatal bout of pneumonia, Taylor (with fourth husband Eddie Fisher) scored a sympathy Oscar for 1960s Butterfield 8. In 1966 Liz won Oscar No. 2 for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? but railed at the Academy when fifth husband Richard Burton failed to win too.
Welcome Back, Ingrid: Denounced in Congress in 1950 for her adulterous affair with Roberto Rossellini, Bergman ended her decade-long Hollywood exile by presenting a 1959 Best Picture Oscar to Gigi producer Arthur Freed. She said her recipe for happiness was "good health and a poor memory."
The President's Daughter: The 1965 Oscars were enlivened by Lynda Byrd Johnson who, at the prodding of escort George Hamilton, had submitted to a Hollywood beauty make-over. Sister Luci, watching at the White House, remarked, "She's the prettiest thing there!" Even Lynda's Secret Service man didn't recognize her.
Two Fair Ladies: Julie Andrews, posing at the 1965 Oscars with rival Audrey Hepburn, who had won Julie's Broadway role In the film of My Fair Lady, disclaimed any "III will." No need. Julie won the Oscar for Mary Poppins; Audrey wasn't even nominated for Lady. Said Hepburn: "I didn't have the guts to turn the part down."
Sweet Victory: "I'd like to think it will help," said Sidney Poitier after Anne Bancroft opened the envelope and, for 1963's Lilies of the Field, he became the first black Best Actor winner. "But I don't believe my Oscar will be a magic wand that will wipe away the restrictions on job opportunities for Negro actors." Sadly, he was right.
The Redgrave Invasion: As only the second sister nominees in Oscar history, Lynn and Vanessa, cited respectively for 1966's Georgy Girl and Morgan, came from a notable British acting family. "We are the sprigs of a great and beautiful tree," said Vanessa. Maybe so. But Liz Taylor whopped them both.
Hall the Champ: In 1959 Best Picture Ben-Hur took a record 11 Oscars, including Best Actor Charlton Heston, who got the part after Burt Lancaster dropped out. "It was hard work," said Chuck, who drove a mean chariot. But some questioned his talents. That Heston, said actor Aldo Ray, "what a hamola."
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