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How Did the Oscar Get Its Name?

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Although officially named the Academy Award of Merit, the statuette is almost universally known as the Oscar. But where did this name come from? A number of stories have arisen over the years. The most popular story about the name’s origin involves then Academy librarian and future executive director, Margaret Herrick. The story goes that Herrick, upon seeing the statuette sitting on a table exclaimed “it looks just like my Uncle Oscar!” The name stuck and it has been called by that name ever since. Another common story involves actress and two-time Academy Award winner Bette Davis, who reportedly named it after her ex-husband, Harmon Oscar Nelson, Jr. Columnist Sidney Skolsky, perhaps the first to use the name in print, claimed that the name came from an old music hall joke, “Will you have a cigar, Oscar?” Although we don’t know the name’s true origin, we do know that it quickly gained popularity. In 1934 Hollywood reporter Sidney Skolsky used the name in reference to Katherine ... more
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The official name of the statuette is the Academy Award of Merit. The statuette is almost exclusively known as the Oscar. The exact reason is not known, but the most popular story involves then Academy librarian and future executive director, Margaret Herrick. When Herrick saw the statuette sitting on a table, stated “it looks just like my Uncle Oscar!” The name stuck and that magical golden statuette has been called Oscar ever since. Over the past 80 plus years, the actual Oscar statuette has undergone relatively few changes. Compared to the 1929 version, they are almost exactly the same. It is 13 ½ inches tall and weighs 8 ½ pounds. But there have been some very fundamental changes. 15 Oscar statuettes were awarded during the first Academy Awards ceremony on May 16th, 1929. They were made of gold-plated solid bronze and placed upon a pedestal made of Belgian black marble. In 1945, two minor changes occurred with the pedestal. It was made slightly higher and is currently made of ... more
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