The Oscar statuette is the symbol of the Academy Awards. Here are some facts about the trophy itself.
1. The original design of “Oscar” was by MGM art director Cedric Gibbons. He came up with a statuette of a knight standing on a reel of film gripping a crusader’s sword. The Academy commissioned the Los Angeles sculptor George Stanley to create the design in three dimensions.
2. It was presented for the first time at the initial awards banquet on May 16, 1929 to Emil Jannings, named Best Actor for his performances in “The Last Command” and “The Way of All Flesh”.
3. Since then, 2,701 statuettes have been presented.
4. The new golden statuettes are cast, moulded, polished and buffed each January by RS Owens & Company, the Chicago-based awards manufacturer retained by the Academy since 1982.
5. Oscar stands 13? inches tall and weighs 8? lbs.
6. The film reel features five spokes, signifying the five original branches of the Academy: actors, directors, producers, technicians and writers. Although the statuette remains true to its original design, the size of the base varied until 1945, when the current standard was adopted.
7. Officially named the Academy Award of Merit, the statuette is better known by its nickname, Oscar. While the origins of the moniker are not clear, a popular story has it that upon seeing the trophy for the first time, Academy librarian (and eventual executive director) Margaret Herrick remarked that it resembled her Uncle Oscar. The Academy didn’t adopt the nickname officially until 1939.
8. The statuettes presented at the initial ceremonies were gold-plated solid bronze. Within a few years the bronze was abandoned in favour of Britannia metal, a pewter-like alloy which is then plated in copper, nickel silver, and finally, 24-carat gold.
9. Due to a metal shortage during the Second World War, Oscars were made of painted plaster for three years. Following the war, the Academy invited recipients to redeem the plaster figures for gold-plated metal ones.
10. The Academy is not certain know how many statuettes it will hand out until the envelopes are opened on the night of the ceremony. Although the number of categories are known in advance, the possibility of ties and of multiple recipients sharing the prize in some categories makes it impossible to predict the exact number of statuettes to be awarded. Any surplus awards are housed in the Academy’s vault until the following year’s event.