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On this Day in Movie History March 19, 1953: Academy Awards Broadcast on TV

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The year 1953 marked the first time that the Academy Awards were broadcast on the fledgling medium of television. Celebrating the Academy’s silver anniversary, the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) TV network carried the 25th annual awards ceremony live from Hollywood’s RKO Pantages Theatre. NBC paid $100,000 for the rights to broadcast the event on both radio and TV. While Fredric March, a two-time Academy Award winner for Best Actor (for 1932’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and 1946’s The Best Years of Our Lives), presented the awards, Bob Hope was the master of ceremonies. A dual celebration was staged in New York City, where Conrad Nagel was host.

Hope, a star of stage and screen who tirelessly performed in United Service Organization (USO) shows for American troops during World War II, would become a mainstay of the new TV medium. He was also the most venerated Academy Awards host, playing MC no fewer than 18 times between 1939 and 1977. NBC broadcast the Oscars until 1961, when the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) took over for the next decade, including the first awards broadcast in color in 1966. Although NBC briefly regained the show in the early 1970s, ABC came out on top again in 1976 and has broadcast every Academy Awards show since. The network is under contract to continue showing the Oscars until 2014.

The Best Picture award that year went to Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Greatest Show on Earth”. Best Director was the legendary John Ford for “The Quiet Man”. The rest of the best: Actor: Gary Cooper for “High Noon”; Supporting Actor: Anthony Quinn for “Viva Zapata!”; Actress: Shirley Booth for “Come Back, Little Sheba”; Supporting Actress: Gloria Grahame for “The Bad and the Beautiful”; Art Direction-Set Decoration/ Color: Paul Sheriff, Marcel Vert’s for “Moulin Rouge”; Music/Song: Dimitri Tiomkin (music), Ned Washington (lyrics) for the song, “High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin’)
from “High Noon”.
1894 – (Jackie) “Moms” Mabley (Loretta Mary Aiken) (comedienne: Abraham, Martin & John; films: Boarding House Blues, Emperor Jones, Amazing Grace, Killer Diller; died May 23, 1975)

1928 – Patrick McGoohan (actor: Secret Agent, Braveheart, Escape from Alcatraz, The Silver Streak, Ice Station Zebra, I Am a Camera; actor, director: The Prisoner; died Jan 13, 2009)

1933 – Phyllis Newman (actress: Coming of Age, That was the Week That Was, Picnic, A Secret Space)

1933 – Renee Taylor (Emmy Award-winning writer: Acts of Love – and Other Comedies [1973]; entertainer: The Jack Paar Show; actress: The Nanny, Daddy Dearest, Mary Hartman Mary Hartman, The Producers, A New Leaf)

1935 – Nancy Malone (actress: The Long Hot Summer, Naked City)

1936 – Ursula Andress (actress: Dr. No, Casino Royale, Fun in Acapulco, What’s New Pussycat, Clash of the Titans)

1952 – Harvey Weinstein (although not an actor, he is a mini-mogul in his own right there in Hollywood. With brother Bob, he founded Miramax company which was acquired by Disney. Retained by Disney, the Weinstein brothers parted company with Disney and went on to form the Weinstein Company.)

1955 – (Walter) Bruce Willis (Emmy Award-winning actor: Moonlighting [1987]; Die Hard series, Pulp Fiction, Hudson Hawk, The Last Boy Scout, Billy Bathgate, In Country, Last Man Standing, The Fifth Element, Armageddon, The Sixth Sense)


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