It was on this day, May 11, 1927, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was founded; although the first Oscars were not presented for several years after its founding.
The notion of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) began with Louis B. Mayer, head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). He wanted to create an organization that would mediate labor disputes and improve the industry’s image.
Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. was elected as the first president of the Academy. As one of his first acts, he added an activity of bestowing “awards of merit for distinctive achievement.” This was the birth of the Oscars.
In 1929, the Academy, in a joint venture with the University of Southern California, created America’s first film school to further the art and science of moving pictures. The School’s founding faculty included Fairbanks (President of the Academy), D. W. Griffith, William C. deMille, Ernst Lubitsch, Irving Thalberg, and Darryl F. Zanuck.
Today the Academy is composed of over 6,000 motion picture professionals. While the great majority of its members are based in the United States, membership is open to qualified filmmakers around the world.
1911 – Phil Silvers (Philip Silversmith) (Emmy Award-winning comedian: The Phil Silvers Show [Sgt. Bilko: 1955, 1956, 1957]; The Beverly Hillbillies, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; died Nov 1, 1985)
1911 – Doodles (Winstead) Weaver (actor: Road to Nashville, The Errand Boy, The Ladies’ Man, Way He Was; died Jan 17, 1983)
1912 – Foster Brooks (comedian, actor: The Villain, Cracking Up, Oddballs, The New Bill Cosby Show, Mork & Mindy, The Dean Martin Show, The Bobby Vinton Show, The Book of Lists; died Dec 20, 2001)
1920 – Denver Pyle (actor: The Dukes of Hazzard, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, Life & Times of Grizzly Adams, Bonnie & Clyde; died Dec 25, 1997)
1927 – Mort Sahl (comedian: Broadway, night club acts, actor: Don’t Make Waves, Doctor You’ve Got to be Kidding)
1935 – Doug McClure (actor: The Gambler Returns, Omega Syndrome, The Unforgiven, The Virginian, Search, Roots, Out of this World, The Overland Trail, Checkmate, The Barbary Coast; died Feb 5, 1995)
1963 – Natasha Richardson (actress: Widow’s Peak, Nell, Hostages, Past Midnight, The Handmaid’s Tale, Patty Hearst, Gothic, On the Razzle, The Charge of the Light Brigade; daughter of actress Vanessa Redgrave and director Tony Richardson, sister of actress Joely Richardson, niece of actress Lynn Redgrave; died in New York City Mar 18, 2009 [following a skiing accident Mar 16, 2009 near Montreal, Canada])