The world famous Oscar statue – but where did the design come from? (Picture: Getty Images)
It is arguably the most recognisable statuette in the world, and it will soon be awarded to a new batch of recipients at this years Oscars ceremony.
The Oscars is organised by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, and has been running for nearly 94 years.
It is made up of branches that recognise excellence across all arms of film-making, from acting, to writing, directing, music, visual effects and more.
The statuette is the familiar of a stoic (and bald) man holding a sword – but where did this design come from?
Here’s everything you need to know…
Olivia Coleman could win her second Academy Award in the 2021 ceremony (Picture: Getty Images)
Who or what is the Oscars statuette based on?
Shortly after the Academy was formed in 1927, it was agreed from very early on that the statuette needed to be suitably grand.
That is why they all agreed that the design should be based on a crusader knight, which would be stood upon a reel of film gripping a mighty broadsword
A design was quickly put together, with the film reel featuring five spokes to represent the original branches of the academy: actors, directors, producers, technicians and writers.
The late Chadwick Boseman could win a posthumous award for Best Actor (Picture: Getty Images)
Who designed the Oscar statuette?
Cedric Gibbons, who was the art director at MGM Studios in 1927 was given the task of initially designing the golden statuette in sketch form when he came up with the idea of placing the knight atop a film reel.
One old Hollywood legend claims that Gibbons based his sketches for the knight on the figure of Mexican actor Emiliano Fernandez, who was then friends with Gibbons’ wife, actress Dolores Del Rio.
It is said Gibbons managed to convinced a reluctant Fernandez to pose nude for him, but it is an old Hollywood tale that has never been confirmed.
The Academy then passed the task onto Los Angeles Sculptor George Stanley to bring the statue to three-dimensional life.
The Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, the usual home of the Oscars ceremony, will be one of two venues used this year (Picture: Getty Images)
What is an Oscar statuette made of?
Standing at 13.5 inches and weighing 8.5 pounds, the Oscar is made out of solid bronze and plated in 24-karat gold.
During the Second World War, the Oscars were made out of painted plaster due to metal shortages.
For the past 30 years, the statues have been made at RS Owens Company, a Chicago-based factory.
The process to make them takes ten days from start to finish, although the final touch – adding the winner’s name – isn’t done until after the ceremony itself.
Walt Disney was the first man to thank the Academy for his ‘Oscar’ in 1934 (Picture: Getty Images)
Why is it called an Oscar?
This is another fact that has fallen into the category of Hollywood myth.
While its official name is technically the Academy Award of Merit, the statuette is much better known by its nickname.
The most popular origin story for the name is that when Academy librarian (and eventual executive director) Margaret Herrick first saw the statuette in 1931, she remarked that it looked like her cousin ‘Uncle Oscar.’
The name was popularised by columnist Sidney Skolsky in his coverage of the 6th Academy Awards in 1934. That year, Walt Disney was the first recipient to refer to the award as an Oscar in his speech.
The Academy itself didn’t officially adopt the nickname until 1939, by which point it had already become a widely used moniker across Hollywood.
The 93rd Academy Awards will be available to watch on Sky Cinema, with the ceremony commencing from 1am on Monday April 26.
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