News to me. For three years during World War 2, due to wartime metal shortage, the Hollywood Oscar was made of plaster.
Usually made of solid bronze and gold plated , during 1943, 1944 and 1945, all Oscars were cast in plaster and sprayed with a bronze lacquer.

The winners were able to swap the fake Oscars for the real thing after the war.

1944: Paul Lukas (“ Watch on the Rhine”;  Jennifer Jones (Song of Bernadette”) ; Katina Paxinou ( “For Whom The Bell  Tolls) ; Charles Coburn (“The More The  Merrier.”)

The statues definitely look lighter ( normally the Oscar  weighs 8 and a half pounds).


1945: Barry Fitzgerald (“Going My Way”) ;  Ingrid Bergman (“Gaslight”).; Bing Crosby (“Going My Way”)

During the war years, stars were expected to wear casual outfits at the Oscar  ceremonies .. ..In 1942, James Stewart wore his Air Force uniform.
In 1945, Jeanette MacDonald sang the National Anthem., and the ceremony had a backdrop of a banner with the number 27,677, representing the number of industry players serving in the war.

VARIETY had a headline:

“Nix Finery, Hoofing and Glitter!”


P.S.  Concerning how OSCAR got its name, even the Oscar Academy (www.Oscars.org) say there is no definitive answer . One explanation came from the Academy librarian Margaret Herrick who said it looked like her uncle Oscar. (Bette Davis and writer Sidney Skolsky also claimed the naming).


Regarding the design of the statuette, the original concept was by MGM’s art director Cedric Gibbons who envisioned a knight posed above a reel of film to represent a ‘ crusader’ of the industry.

In 1928, Gibbons employed young sculptor, George Stanley to bring it to life. Stanley removed the reel of film but retained the sword.

I haven’t been able to find any picture of Gibbons’ original design. But I have read that there were similarities to pictures of the Egyptian  god, ‘Ptah’ – who was the patron of craftsmen.


By the way, Oscar Hammerstein was the only person named Oscar to win one ( or in Hammerstein’s case, two) – for Best song in 1942 (‘The LastTime I Saw Paris’ with Jerome Kern) and ‘It Might As Well Be Spring’ in 1946 with Richard Rodgers.

The nickname, Oscar was adopted by the Academy  in 1939  – its original title was “The Academy Award of Merit.”


4 responses »

  1. https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/a-brief-history-of-the-oscar-trophy
    has a couple of paragraphs on the meaning and relocation of the film reel.

    I suspect the bronze shortage may have been a myth to support the recycling effort in WWII.

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