Academy Award History, Part Eight: 1940-1941

Academy Award History, Part Eight: 1940-1941

Hitchcock Ford Welles

As the Academy entered a new decade, several changes came to the Awards. For the first time ever, the winners were kept a complete secret until the envelopes were opened on stage. The first year, the winners were known in advance. But to heighten suspense, the Academy decided that for future shows, the names of the winners would be given to the press on the condition that they would not release the names until after the ceremony. This agreement held until 1939, when the Los Angeles Times printed the winners in their evening edition on the night of the awards thereby “spoiling the surprise.” The decision was made to maintain absolute secrecy regarding the winners, and accounting firm Price Waterhouse & Co. was hired to count the ballots and place the winners’ names in sealed envelopes. There were also numerous name changes for the Best Picture category. The original “Outstanding Picture” lasted for the first two ceremonies before becoming “Outstanding Production” in 1930, a change that held until 1941 when the Academy renamed the prize “Outstanding Motion Picture.” This only lasted for three years before the Academy decided on “Best Motion Picture,” before finally becoming the current “Best Picture” in 1963. Read more

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