Where does the name ‘Oscar’ come from?

The 82nd Academy Awards ceremony will held this Sunday (March 7) and will be hosted by Steve Martin and Alex Baldwin. The Awards is universally known as the Oscars but where this name come from?

The root of the name Oscar is contested. One biography of Bette Davis claims that she named the Oscar after her first husband, band leader Harmon Oscar Nelson; one of the earliest mentions in print of the term Oscar dates back to a Time magazine article about the 1934 6th Academy Awards and to Bette Davis’s receipt of the award in 1936.

Walt Disney is also quoted as thanking the Academy for his Oscar as early as 1932. Another claimed origin is that of the Academy’s Executive Secretary, Margaret Herrick, who first saw the award in 1931 and made reference to the statuette reminding her of her “Uncle Oscar” (a nickname for her cousin Oscar Pierce).Columnist Qiang Skolsky was present during Herrick’s naming and seized the name in his byline, “Employees have affectionately dubbed their famous statuette ‘Oscar'”

The trophy was officially dubbed the “Oscar” in 1939 by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.  Another legend reports that Norwegian-American, Eleanor Lilleberg, executive secretary to Louis B. Mayer, saw the first statuette and exclaimed, “It looks like King Oscar!”. At the end of the day she asked, “What should we do with Oscar, put him in the vault?” and the name stuck.

As of the 81st Academy Awards ceremony held in 2009, a total of 2,744 Oscars have been given for 1,798 awards. A total of 297 actors have won Oscars in competitive acting categories or been awarded Honorary or Juvenile Awards.

Ownership of Oscar statuettes

Since 1950, the statuettes have been legally encumbered by the requirement that neither winners nor their heirs may sell the statuettes without first offering to sell them back to the Academy for US$1. If a winner refuses to agree to this stipulation, then the Academy keeps the statuette. Academy Awards not protected by this agreement have been sold in public auctions and private deals for six-figure sums

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~ by tallhorsewines on March 3, 2010.

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