Academy Awards began in 1928 and during its early years there were a few awards that barely lasted to do the mid-20th Century.
These categories were a reflection of the films of the time as Hollywood’s Golden Era transitioned into a technicolor and digital age.
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Before the Talkies officially took over from silent movies there was an Oscar concocted specifically to recognise the talents of those writers who scripted the panels in between the moving scenes. At the first Academy Awards ceremony, the Oscar for Best Title Writing went to Joseph Farnham, a founding member of the Academy of the Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).
Farnham was an American playwright and silent film editor, and he was the first and last person to win this particular award because by the time the second ceremony came around silent movies were quickly becoming obsolete.
This category has gone through more name changes and restrictions than most categories. The Best Score category was added in 1934 but it was split into two categories in 1938 after the controversial win of
One Hundred Men And A Girl (which had no credited composer) to Best Scoring and Best Original Score. By 1942, these categories had been renamed Best Music Score of a Dramatic Picture and Best Scoring of a Musical Picture and the latter later included Comedy Score in its title. The last award given for Best Original Musical or Comedy Score was at the 57th Academy Awards to Prince for Purple Rain. The category technically still exists, it just hasn’t had enough submissions to warrant inclusion.
This honour recognised the work of choreographers but was surprisingly discontinued after three years despite the fact that there were plenty more musicals to come in the decades that followed. In 1935, Dave Gould won for his routines in both
Broadway Melody of 1936 and Folies Bergere de Paris. Seymour Felix won in 1936 for The Great Ziegfeld and Hermes Pan was the last winner in 1937 for A Damsel in Distress. Apparently it was decommissioned because the Directors’ Guild of America weren’t happy with the use of “direction” in the name. Surely best Choreography would have been an appropriate replacement?
This award appeared at the 1st Academy Awards and disappeared afterwards. This is probably because it was far too similar to the Best Picture category. German film director F. W. Murnau was awarded this Oscar for his movie
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans.
Before the live action short film category was introduced in 1974, the genre was recognised in various forms. From 1936 until 1956 there were two separate awards, Best Short Subject, One-reel and “Best Short Subject, Two-reel, two reflect the length of the films. Best Short Subject, colou was used only for 1936 and 1937 but discontinued after colour film became the norm. Originally, between 1932 and 1935, the awards were termed as Best Short Subject, comedy and Best Short Subject, novelty.
Hal Roach’s The Music Box and Mack Sennet’s Wrestling Swordfish were the first short films to win in the Comedy and Novelty categories, respectively.
This award was brought into play from the beginning of the Academy Awards up until 1956. The first winner was Ben Hecht for Underworld and the last was actually Dalton Trumbo for
The Brave One. The writer, who was famously blacklisted at the time, wrote the story under the name Robert Rich. He was eventually presented the award in 1975 by then-Academy president Walter Mirisch.
Again at the First Oscars, the Best Director category was split into Comedy and Drama, similar to that of the Golden Globes. Lewis Milestone won for his movie
Two Arabian Nights in 1929 and after that the subdivisions were merged into one.
This award was a special honorary one given to a juvenile performer under the age of eighteen for their “outstanding contributions to screen entertainment”. It was awarded at the discretion of the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the trophy was a miniature version of an Oscar.
Shirley Temple, aged, six, was the first Juvenile Award winner, taking home the statue at the Seventh Academy Awards in 1935. The last time it was given out was at the 33rd Academy Awards in 1960, to a 14-year-old Hayley Mills for her role in Pollyanna.
This was given out once and once only in 1928, as a plaque, to special effects artist Roy Pomeroy for his work on the first Best Picture winner
Wings. It would be another ten years before another special effects artist was recognised at the Academy Awards, Gordon Jennings, who was given a “Special Achievement Award for Special Effects” for the film Spawn of the North. A year later, Best Special Effects became an official Oscars category but it’s been known as Best Visual Effects since 1977.
There are a lot of film industry people (assistant directors in particular) who want this award to return, especially since their responsibilities have increased over the years because of the way movies are expanding in technicality and production. It lasted from 1933 to 1937, and in its first year it was awarded to seven people. Robert Webb took home the Oscar for the last time at the 10th Academy Awards for his work on
In Old Chicago.