By Gerry Moran
It’s not every day of the week that a man gets to present an Oscar, two Oscars even! But that’s exactly what yours truly did this time (ie. Oscar-time) last year. And I did it in Cleere’s pub. I presented the Oscars to two of the co-founders of the Monday night music session in John Cleere’s (now run by Johnny Holden and Paul McCabe with more than a little help from Conor Buggy), to Mick Walsh, all round musician and song-writer, the lynch-pin of the session, and to Jimmy Rhatigan, singer and all-round entertainer and raconteur and former Editor of this paper.
I presented the Oscars to the ‘boys’ to thank them for their outstanding contribution to the music scene, not just in Cleere’s, but in Kilkenny and for keeping the session going for nigh on 30 years. A hell of an achievement! The Monday night session in Cleere’s is the longest running session in Kilkenny and has become a destination for locals and tourists alike.
I like to think that the ‘boys’ have those Oscars prominently displayed on their mantelpieces but, hey, it’s okay if they went out with the rubbish as after all they were plastic unlike the real, 13 and a half inch, Oscars which are made of solid bronze, plated with 24-karat gold and depict a knight on a reel of film.
The statuettes have been known as Oscars since 1927 when a librarian at the Academy of Motion Pictures declared that the gold-plated statuette looked just like her Uncle Oscar! Following are some interesting tidbits about the Oscars:
* The Academy of Motion Pictures was formed in 1927 by movie mogul Louis B Mayer. The first winners were chosen by only five judges and the event was first televised in 1962. Today the winners are chosen by the 5,000 plus members of the academy.
* To be a member you need to be a previous winner, be nominated by two other members, or have two major starring roles under your belt. It’s not known how many members bother to vote or how many have actually seen the nominated films. Some members give their voting cards to secretaries, gardeners, shrinks, lovers and so forth.
* Each year, a Hollywood designer is employed to co-ordinate the outfits of winners and presenters to ensure no two actresses wear the same dress. Some actresses rent rooms nearby and don’t allow their hairdressers to leave!
* Woody Allen, three times an Oscar winner, never turned up to the ceremony, preferring to spend the evening playing his clarinet in Michael’s Pub in New York.
* The oldest recipient of an Oscar is Anthony Hopkins, aged 83, for The Father in 2021. The youngest winners were Tatum O’Neal, aged 10, for Paper Moon (1973) and Shirley Temple, awarded an honorary Oscar when just five. Alfred Hitchcock, Fred Astaire and Richard Burton (nominated eight times) never won an Oscar. The only person to win four Oscars in a starring role was Katherine Hepburn: Morning Glory (1932/3); Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967); The Lion in Winter (1968) and On Golden Pond (1981) Walt Disney died aged 65 with 26 Oscars to his name! Three movies share top spot for winning most Oscars (11 each): Ben Hur (1959), Titanic (1997) and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
* In 1981 an Oscar was stolen in front of the viewing millions when an imposter bounced on to the stage just as the MC was announcing that the Hungarian winner hadn’t made it. He even made a short acceptance speech. In 1974 the show was graced by a streaker who was later shot dead in a San Francisco sex shop!
* In 1928 Charley Chaplin won an Oscar for The Circus. In 1947 the FBI opened a file on him. J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI, hated him and considered Chaplin a threat to national security. Chaplin settled in Switzerland but returned to the US in 1972 to accept an honorary Oscar; he received a 12 minute standing ovation, the longest in the history of the Academy awards.
* Finally, overheard at the Oscars: There were a lot of new faces. Not a lot of new people but a lot of new faces.