Each year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences bestows awards for excellence in the art of filmmaking. This year, films like The Power of the Dog, Belfast, and CODA will vie for statues known as "Oscars." One theory is that the statues picked up the nickname when Academy librarian (and future Director of the Academy) Margaret Herrick remarked in 1931 that the figure looked like her Uncle Oscar.
Circulated by newspaper columnist Sidney Skolsky, the throwaway comment stuck, and both the ceremony and the trophies have been known as “The Oscars” ever since.
So has anyone named Oscar ever won an Oscar?
The answer is yes, though it’s a very, very rare event. In the 1940s, lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II picked up two Oscars for his work on 1941’s Lady Be Good and 1945’s State Fair. The Best Song triumph was shared with Jerome Kern for Lady Be Good’s “The Last Time I Saw Paris” and Richard Rodgers for State Fair’s “It Might As Well Be Spring.”
The Rodgers and Hammerstein duo was prolific, creating hit Broadway musicals like Oklahoma!, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music. Oklahoma! received the Pulitzer Prize Special Award and Citation in 1944; South Pacific scored another Pulitzer, this one in the drama category. Tonys? Hammerstein nabbed plenty of those, too.
Other Oscars have been acknowledged by the Academy. In 1929, Oscar Lagerstrom was recognized for his sound directing work on Raffles, though at the time the Academy listed only film titles in the category of Sound Recording and not nominees. In 1948, Oscar Homolka got a nod for his supporting role in I Remember Mama. In 1951, Oscar Millard got a screenwriting nomination for The Frogmen.
No Oscar has been nominated for an Oscar since Oscar Brodney for writing 1954’s The Glenn Miller Story, a nod shared with co-writer Valentine Davies.
Could anyone join Hammerstein in this rare pantheon of Oscars with Oscars? Respected actor Oscar Isaac is one possibility; so is Oscar Micheaux, the pioneering Black filmmaker active in the 1920s through 1940s who some industry observers feel is deserving of a posthumous award.
For now, though, this particular bit of Oscar trivia belongs to Oscar Hammerstein.