The 25th Annual Academy Awards gave Americans the opportunity to sit in their living rooms and feel like they were mingling with the stars.
“Tonight’s the night movies and television get married, with the rites taking place at the 25th annual academy awards,” the Oakland Tribune announced on March 19, 1953.
Up to that point, most people never saw they award ceremony. They read about it in the newspaper or heard clips on the radio or saw clips when they went to the movie theater.
How It Happened
NBC offered the Motion Picture Academy $100,000 for the broadcast rights, and the academy accepted it. Six cameras were set up in the theater to capture the New York ceremony from all angles.
Bob Hope hosted the 1 ½ hour ceremony that was broadcast in the U.S. and Canada. The show had the largest audience in commercial television history at the time.
“Television sets were scattered all over the theatre, and a huge television screen at the back of the state dwarfed the performers.
“Even Bob Hope, the master of ceremonies, couldn’t compete with the commercials that the audience had to sit through. The commercials interrupted the handing out of the awards at frequent intervals,” Frank Morriss wrote in the Winnipeg Free Press.
He also noted that the actors had to wear baby blue because of the demands of the television broadcast and that it “didn’t suit John Wayne.”
The Academy Awards
Shirley Booth and Gary Cooper were favored to win the Best Actress and Best Actor awards. “High Noon” was favored to win Best Picture.
The ceremony featured a few surprises, though. Though Booth won Best Actress for “Come Back, Little Sheba” and Cooper won for “High Noon,” long-shot “The Greatest Show on Earth” captured the Best Picture award. It was the first Cecil B. DeMille movie nominated.
Other top awards included John Ford getting his fourth Best Director Oscar for “The Quiet Man,” Anthony Quinn getting Best Supporting Actor for “Viva Zapata!” and Gloria Grahame winning Best Supporting Actress for “The Bad and the Beautiful.”
“It was a brilliant, star-lit affair. As rain poured down on Hollywood boulevard and crowds sat on bleachers or stood, they covered their heads with newspapers and watched the automobiles disgorge mink-clad, bewilderingly beautiful ladies of the cinema,” Morriss wrote.
This was the first time the top six awards went to six different movies. It has only happened three times so far. The other two years were 1956 and 2005.
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