- The Washington Times - Friday, February 25, 2011

The 83rd annual Academy Awards ceremony takes place Sunday evening in Hollywood’s biggest night of the year. The List this week looks at some notable moments from previous Oscar ceremonies.

  • Adrien Brody — Mr. Brody took presenter Halle Berry by surprise with a spontaneous and passionate kiss to celebrate his best-actor win for the 2002 drama “The Pianist.” Miss Berry was left gasping for oxygen.
  • Sally Field —  In accepting her best-actress award for the 1985 film “Places in the Heart,” Miss Field proclaimed, “You like me! Right now, you like me!” The speech has become legendary.       
  • Roberto Benigni — The actor-director with the Coke-bottle glasses was so overcome with emotion at winning the Oscar for the best foreign-language film in 1999 that he bounced along the tops of chairs to get his prize for “Life Is Beautiful.”
  • Gwyneth Paltrow— Her blubbering and sobbing acceptance speech for best actress “Shakespeare in Love” in 1999 might go down as one of the worst in history. Said one critic: “‘To do a Gwyneth‘ is now a description for anyone who loses all sense of emotional proportion the moment they step up to accept an award.”
  • Shirley MacLaine — When Miss MacLaine came to the podium in 1978, she tried to cheer up her brother, Warren Beatty, who had failed to win an Oscar for “Heaven Can Wait.” “How proud I am of my little brother,” she said. “Just imagine what you could accomplish if you tried celibacy!” The cameras panned in on an the embarrassed Mr. Beatty sitting with his date, Diane Keaton.
  • David Letterman — When Mr. Letterman was host in 1995, his opening joke went down as one of the most awkward moments in Oscar history. He decided to introduce Oprah Winfrey to Uma Thurman: “Oprah, Uma. Uma, Oprah.” Many of his jokes fell flat that night, and he was never invited back.
  • Vanessa Redgrave — The British actress caused some in the audience to boo in 1978 when, in her acceptance speech, she said to her “dear colleagues,” “[Y]ou have refused to be intimidated by the threats of a small bunch of Zionist hoodlums.” Later in the show, Paddy Chayefsky chastised Miss Redgrave, saying, “I’m sick and tired of people exploiting the Academy Awards for the propagation of their own personal propaganda. I would like to suggest to Miss Redgrave that her winning an Academy Award is not a pivotal moment in history, does not require a proclamation, and a simple ‘Thank you’ would have sufficed.”
  • Emma Thompson — In receiving the 1996 Oscar for her screenplay adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility,” the British actress gave an amusing and well-crafted speech. Said Miss Thompson: “Before I came, I went to visit Jane Austen’s grave in Winchester Cathedral to pay my respects, you know, and to tell her about the grosses. And I don’t know how she would react to an evening like this, but I do hope, I do hope she knows how big she is in Uruguay.”
  • Jack Palance — When Jack Palance won an Oscar in 1992, for his role in “City Slickers,” the 72-year-old actor stunned the audience by dropping down and doing push-ups to demonstrate his virility.
  • Dustin Hoffman — In his 1980 acceptance speech for best actor in “Kramer vs. Kramer,” Mr. Hoffman began by looking at his Oscar statuette and noting, “He has no genitalia and he’s holding a sword.”
  • Louise Fletcher — Miss Fletcher gave the latter part of her best-actress acceptance speech in sign language to her deaf-mute parents after winning for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” in 1976.
  • Maureen Stapleton — In her acceptance speech for winning her supporting Oscar in 1982 for “Reds,” Miss Stapleton said, “Thank you. Thank you. I’m thrilled, happy, delighted, sober.  I want to thank Troy, New York, and my children, my family, my friends and everybody I ever met in my entire life.”
  • David Niven — As British actor David Niven began to introduce presenter Elizabeth Taylor in 1974, Robert Opel, who ran a male-erotic-art studio, ran naked across the stage. “Probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings,” Mr. Niven quipped. Opel was murdered July 7, 1979, during a robbery of his studio.
  • Marlon Brando — The star of the 1972 film “The Godfather” refused to pick up his best-actor award. Brando instead sent American Indian activist Sacheen Littlefeather to refuse the Oscar on his behalf, citing “the treatment of the American Indians today by the film industry.” Littlefeather’s actual name was Maria Cruz.
  • Hattie McDaniel — When Miss McDaniel heard she had won for best actress in a supporting role in the 1939 film “Gone With the Wind,” she whooped “Hallelujah” and rushed to the podium. She was overcome by tears in the middle of her acceptance speech and hurried back to her seat, where she buried her face in her hands and cried. She was the first black performer to win an Oscar.
  • Shirley Temple — Certain she would lose, New York-bound Claudette Colbert skipped the 1935 Oscars. When she won the best-actress award for “It Happened One Night,” she was summoned from the train station to the banquet, where 6-year-old Shirley Temple handed her the statuette.

Compiled by John Haydon

Source: National Enquirer, Huffington Post, infoplease.com, The Washington Times, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Associated Press, “The Complete Gone With the Wind Trivia Book” by Pauline Bartel, the Daily Telegraph, life.com.