Oscar neared its half-century mark in a reactionary mood. Breakthrough films such as Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate and Easy Rider ended up losers. In 1968, the year of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Oliver! won the Best Picture prize. Yikes. No wonder a streaker felt the need to defame one of the decade's Academy telecasts. Then, a rebel cry was heard in filmland. Newcomers Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight dared to duke it out with the Duke, John Wayne, for the statue. They failed, but their X-rated Midnight Cowboy took the Best Picture prize in 1969. Jane Fonda raised hackles with her Vietnam views and won anyway. The warring factions of the Academy were creating sparks.
True Grit: John Wayne had to let it all hang out in 1969 as bloated, one-eyed Rooster Cogburn to finally collect his first Oscar at 62 after 250 movies. "Wow," drawled the Duke, "if I had known, I would have put that eye patch on 35 years earlier."
Godfather & the Indians: When Marlon Brando was voted 1972's Best Actor, he sent Apache Sacheen Little feather to reject the Oscar for all the Native Americans Hollywood had demeaned. "Childish," scowled Charlton Heston. "Wonderful," gushed Jane Fonda.
A Patton Put-down: Deriding the Oscars as a "meat parade," George C. Scott declined his nomination as 1970's Best Actor. "My god!" exclaimed Goldie Hawn as she opened the envelope and read the winner's name: "It's George C. Scott."
A New Contender: Struggling actor Sylvester Stallone (with Carl Weathers in the ring) took half a week to write a script for himself about an underdog fighter. He lost the Best Actor Oscar, but the sleeper film won the title as Best Picture of 1976. "Rocky will be remembered," said Sly with typical modesty.
Photo Finish: For the second time in Oscar history, a tie was declared. Funny Girl's Barbra Streisand and The Lion in Winter's Katharine Hepburn received the same number of votes from the 1968 Academy's 3,030 members. Designer Edith Head was "shocked," not by the tie but by Streisand's tacky peekaboo pantsuit.
Network's Double Triumph: Faye Dunaway celebrated her Best Actress victory into the wee smalls by the pool of the Beverly Hills Hotel. Her co-star Peter Finch, the first actor ever to win a posthumous Oscar, had died of a heart attack two months earlier at the same hotel.
Call Him the Streak: Would-be comic Robert Opel snuck backstage at the 1974 Oscars ceremony, flustering emcee David Niven as the cameras cut away to spare home viewers the streaker's shortcomings. The hit of a dull show, Opel was found murdered five years later in his San Francisco sex shop.
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