Mental Floss

6 Odd Moments in Oscar History

Kara Kovalchik
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1. You Light Up My Mxpltk

In 1976, Best Actress winner Louise Fletcher (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) signed her acceptance speech to her Deaf parents. The Academy decided that her presentation was "cute," so during the 1977 ceremony, Debby Boone was scheduled to perform her Oscar-nominated song "You Light Up My Life" accompanied onstage by 11 young girls from the John Tracy Clinic for the Deaf who signed the lyrics as she sang. Eagle-eyed viewers, however, noted that each girl seemed to be signing a different song. It was later revealed that at the last minute a group of (non-Deaf) students from the nearby Torrence Elementary School had been recruited instead, and they had been signing gibberish.

2. Whoops, There It Is! (Where?)

During Oscar's 20th anniversary broadcast in 1947, future president Ronald Reagan was onstage narrating a montage of silent film clips that were projected behind him. As he earnestly intoned, "This picture embodies... the inspiration of our future," the audience burst into laughter. Reagan was unaware that, due to a technical glitch, the film was being shown upside down, backwards, and on the ceiling.

3. An Offer He Could Refuse

The 1973 Academy Awards will always be remembered for the controversy Marlon Brando caused when he refused his Best Actor award for The Godfather. He sent in his place a young Native American activist named Sacheen Littlefeather, who read a prepared speech about Hollywood's poor representation of the American Indian. It was later reported that Littlefeather was actually Maria Cruz, an actress of Mexican descent (she explains her heritage here).

4. Sour Grapes, Miss Mellie?

Hattie McDaniel
Hattie McDaniel /

5. I Coulda Been (and Was) a Contender!

Seventy-eight-year-old Sir Laurence Olivier received a standing ovation when he stepped up to the podium in 1984 to announce the Best Picture award. Unfortunately, he was so overcome with emotion that he forgot to list the nominees and instead simply opened the envelope and announced: "Amadeus!"

6. Don't Look, Ethel!

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streaking.jpg /
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