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All film buffs know about the Oscars, which reward global and domestic film excellence. Many aspiring (and established) actors, directors, and other film workers dream about taking home a golden statue. However, few know about the history of the awards.

The Founding of the Oscars

The Oscars are hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, an organization founded to protect and advance the nascent film industry. The Academy originally consisted of actors, directors, producers, technicians, and writers.

The Academy was founded in 1927, but the first Oscar awards were held in 1929. However, the idea to create some kind of award for amazing artistry in film was conceived almost at the beginning of the Academy. The Academy thought that rewarding achievement would push artists to make greater advances in film, building the industry.

The Statue

Between 1927 and 1929, Academy members worked on designing an awards statue. The statue was supposed to be a knight wielding a sword and standing in front of a film reel, representing the Academy’s defense of the film industry. Eventually, the design was simplified to the slim statue we know today.

The Oscar statue is usually made of cast metal and plated with gold. However, Oscar winners during the shortages of World War Two received painted plaster statues. In 2000, thieves stole that year’s statues only a short time before the award ceremony, but they were eventually returned.

What’s in a Name

The official name for the Oscar award to this day is the Academy Award of Merit. Nobody knows for sure where the nickname “Oscar” came from, although one popular story claims that an Academy staff member thought the statue looked like a relative named Oscar. The nickname was formally adopted in 1939 and ever since, it’s captivated the press and public.

The storied history of the Oscars encompasses nearly a century of twists for the movie industry, including theft, war, and more. When award winners hoist the golden statue, they are holding a legacy of decades of excellence in their hands.