1st Academy Awards
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1st Academy Awards
1st Academy Awards
1stOscars 1929.jpg
The first Academy Awards was at The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.
DateMay 16, 1929 (1929-05-16)
SiteHollywood Roosevelt Hotel
Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Hosted byDouglas Fairbanks
Best PictureWings[1]
Most awards7th Heaven and Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (3)
Most nominations7th Heaven (5)

The 1st Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), honored the best films of 1927 and 1928 and took place on May 16, 1929, at a private dinner held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles, California. AMPAS president Douglas Fairbanks hosted the show. Tickets cost $5 (which would be $73 in 2018 considering inflation), 270 people attended the event and the presentation ceremony lasted 15 minutes. Awards were created by Louis B. Mayer, founder of Louis B. Mayer Pictures Corporation (at present merged into Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer). It is the only Academy Awards ceremony not to be broadcast either on radio or television. The radio broadcast was introduced the following year in 1930.

During the ceremony, the AMPAS presented Academy Awards, now known as the Oscars in 12 categories. Winners were announced three months before the live event. Some nominations were announced without reference to a specific film, such as for Ralph Hammeras and Nugent Slaughter, who received nominations in the now defunct category of Engineering Effects.[2] Unlike later ceremonies, an actor could be awarded for multiple works within a calendar year for the same category. Emil Jannings, for example, was given the Best Actor award for his work in both The Way of All Flesh and The Last Command. Also, Charlie Chaplin and Warner Brothers each received an Honorary Award.[3][4]

Major winners at the ceremony included 7th Heaven and Sunrise, which each received three awards, and Wings, receiving two awards. Among its honors, Sunrise won the award for Unique and Artistic Picture and Wings won the award for Outstanding Picture (now known as Best Picture). These two categories at the time were regarded equally as the top award of the night intended to honor different and important aspects of superior filmmaking. The next year, the Academy dropped the Unique and Artistic Picture award, and decided retroactively that the award won by Wings was the highest honor that could be awarded.[2]


In 1927, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) was established by Louis B. Mayer, originator of Louis B. Mayer Pictures Corporation, which then would be joined into Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). Mayer's purpose in creating the award was to unite the five branches of the film industry, including actors, directors, producers, technicians, and writers.[5] Mayer commented on the creation of the awards "I found that the best way to handle [filmmakers] was to hang medals all over them ... If I got them cups and awards, they'd kill them to produce what I wanted. That's why the Academy Award was created".[6] Mayer asked Cedric Gibbons, art director of MGM, to design an Academy Award trophy.[5][7] Nominees were notified through a telegram in February 1928.[5] In August 1928, Mayer contacted the Academy Central Board of Judges to decide winners.[5] However, according to the American director King Vidor, the voting for the Academy Award for Best Picture was in the hands of the AMPAS founders Douglas Fairbanks, Sid Grauman, Mayer, Mary Pickford, and Joseph Schenck.[8]


The ceremony was held on May 16, 1929[9][3][4][10] at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, located in Los Angeles.[3] It consisted of a private dinner with 36 banquet tables,[11] where 270 people attended and tickets cost five dollars (equivalent to $72.96 in 2018).[3] Actors and actresses arrived at the hotel in luxury vehicles, where many fans attended to encourage celebrities.[11] The ceremony was not broadcast on radio or television,[3] and was hosted by AMPAS director Fairbanks[9][3][4][12] during a 15-minute event.[10]

Winners and nominees

Winners were announced three months before the ceremony.[3][4][10] The recipients included: Emil Jannings, the inaugural first award recipient[3] for Best Actor (The Way of All Flesh and The Last Command);[4][10]Janet Gaynor for Best Actress (7th Heaven, Street Angel, and Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans); Frank Borzage for Best Director, Drama (7th Heaven); Lewis Milestone for Best Director, Comedy (Two Arabian Knights); and Wings for Best Picture (the most expensive film of its time).[9][2] Two presentations were made of a Special Award: Charlie Chaplin, a multiple nominee for one movie (Best Actor, Best Writer and Best Director, Comedy; all for The Circus) having been removed from the list so as to recognize his total contribution to the industry;[4] and Warner Brothers, an award for pioneering talking pictures (The Jazz Singer). Three categories were eliminated for subsequent presentations: Best Engineering Effects, Best Title Writing, and Best Unique and Artistic Quality of Production.[2] The larger film producers received the preponderance of awards: Fox Film Corporation, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Paramount Pictures, Radio-Keith-Orpheum, and Warner Bros..[5]


Winners are listed first and indicated with double dagger double-dagger

Best Unique and Artistic Picture
Best Engineering Effects
Best Title Writing

Honorary Awards

Multiple nominations and awards


See also


  1. ^ "The 1st Academy Awards Memorable Moments". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
  2. ^ a b c d "The Official Academy Awards Database". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on February 8, 2009. Retrieved 2012. Reader must select "1927/28" in the "Award Year(s):" drop-down menu and press "Search".
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "History of the Academy Awards". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on April 8, 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Dirks, Tim. "1927-28 Academy Awards Winners and History". Filmsite. Rainbow Media. Archived from the original on July 24, 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  5. ^ a b c d e Cosgrave 2007, p. 1
  6. ^ Eyman 2005, p. 117
  7. ^ Eyman 2005, p. 209
  8. ^ Eyman 2005, p. 138
  9. ^ a b c d "This day in History". History. A&E Television Networks. Archived from the original on March 7, 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  10. ^ a b c d Pawlak, Debra Ann. "The Story of the First Academy Awards". The MediaDrome{{inconsistent citations}}
  11. ^ a b Cosgrave 2007, p. 4
  12. ^ "Names make news". Time. Time Inc. May 27, 1929. Archived from the original on October 27, 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  13. ^ Decherney, Peter (August 14, 2012). "Hollywood and the Culture Elite: How the Movies Became American". Columbia University Press – via Google Books.


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