Sunday, March 7, 2010

Famous Oscar Flubs & Moments

I hope to watch the Oscar Ceremonies tonight—along with half the world’s population – but let’s face it, we’re not watching to see which films will win the little gold men, nor to see who cashes in on the office pool. We’re all watching to see which of our favorite actors, appearing under stress and without a script, will make a fabulous flub or world class blunder.

I’ve been watching the Oscars since just about forever, and I remember them all. Well, I wasn’t old enough, (nor did we have a TV) back in 1945 when Joan Crawford, with her usual diva-ish behavior, feigned illness and graciously accepted her Oscar for “Mildred Pierce” at home in her “sick bed” while the cameras rolled.

Here are some of my favorite ill-planned and poorly executed Oscar Moments – in chronological order. If I’ve forgotten some of your favorites—let me know by leaving a comment below or writing me at And if I have the wrong year, please forgive, because the 1990 Oscars happened in 1991, for example, which is confusing, and I haven’t taken the time to double check my dates. (Don’t tell my old professors at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. I’m writing against deadline and sometimes, as they often told us, you just have to “Go with what you’ve got.”)

1969—Katherine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand tied for an Oscar but everyone remembers Streisand’s gauzy bell-bottomed pants suit which became transparent under the lights.

1973 – Marlon Brando won the Oscar for “Godfather 1” but in his place he sent a Mexican actress whom he called Sacheen Littlefeather, dressed as an American Indian, to accept for him, while she issued a diatribe against the portrayal of the Native Americans on film. (I vaguely remembered her name as Princess SummerFallWinterSpring, but of course that was the Indian princess on Howdy Doody, which was my very first TV show after we got a television set back in the early fifties.)

1974—Everyone’s favorite Oscar moment was when the trendy, mustached streaker sped behind David Niven—stark naked on camera. Niven never blinked as he remarked that the only laugh the fellow would ever get is for showing off his shortcomings.

1985 – Everyone knows about Sally Fields “You like me, you really like me!” acceptance speech—which is often misquoted and parodied. I wonder how much she’d pay to erase that exuberant speech from history.

1989 – The career of Rob Lowe hit its nadir as he sang and danced with Snow White in the opening number. Think how far back he’s come since then!

1992 – When Jack Palance leaped on stage to accept an Oscar and celebrated by demonstrating his skill at one-arm push-ups, Billy Crystal kept spinning jokes off of his performance all night. (Referring to a choir of children he cracked, “And all them were fathered by Jack Palance.” The ability to think on his feet is what makes Billy Crystal my favorite Oscar M. C.)

1995 – David Letterman’s opening monologue fell nearly as flat as Rob Lowe’s when his “Uma – Oprah – Uma – Oprah” chant left everyone staring, not laughing.

2000 – Angelina Jolie, was so delighted at receiving an Oscar that she enveloped her brother, James, in a passionate, long, sloppy kiss that left everyone else slack-jawed in shock and wonder.

2003--And Adrian Brodie did the same as he attacked presenter Halley Berry in a big sloppy kiss to celebrate being the youngest actor to win an Oscar.

I actually got to attend the Oscar Ceremony in 1991 – (It was the 1990 Oscars.) The reason I got to go is that my husband Nick was executive producer for Godfather III, which was nominated for (but never got) best picture. I’m glad I got to go that once, but I wouldn’t want to do it again, because it’s really boring.

The people who are nominated for something get to sit on the first floor down front, while the rest of us sit in the balcony. The amazing thing is how bizarre are the outfits worn by the folks in the balcony who seem to be mostly would-be actors trying to get attention because they haven’t made it yet. There are long pauses for commercials and people are hired to drift about and sit in the seats of the famous folks below when they nip out to go to the bathroom. The only thing I actually remember about that Oscar ceremony is that Michael Jackson and Madonna, both in white, appeared together as “dates” and sat right in front of my husband.

Tonight I expect to have more fun than when I was there in person, because I can talk back to the screen and get up to get snacks and drinks and even take a bathroom break.

Recent Oscar ceremonies have become sort of boring because they’re so carefully organized, but I’m still hoping for a world-class flub or blunder tonight to add to my Oscar Memories.

1 comment:

Susan said...

Thanks for setting the stage for tonight, Joan. I too have watched the Oscars almost forever. I remember how crazy you were about Marlon Brando when we were in high school -- you must have been doubly disappointed when he was a no-show and sent "Princess SummerFallWinterSpring" in his place!