Below, but a few of the tidbits of Oscar trivia you'll learn in Robert Osborne's 80 Years of the Oscar: The Official History of the Academy Awards (Abbeville Press), the newest edition of the movie critic and Turner Classic Movies network host's official guide to all things Oscar. The gorgeous coffee table tome checks in at an impressive - and hefty! - 440 pages, with more than 700 photos, and is a must-have for any Hollywood buff:
- The first Best Actor and Best Actress Oscars - ever - were won by Emil Jannings and Janet Gaynor on May 16, 1929. The first year the Oscars were handed out, performers could win for one movie or several movies made during the qualifying year, so Jannings' Oscar was for The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh, while Gaynor's was for 7th Heaven, Street Angel and Sunrise.
- During the fourth Oscar ceremony, one of the Best Actor nominees fell asleep! It was 10-year-old Jackie Cooper, who was nominated for the movie Skippy, an adaptation of a popular comic strip.
- At the eighth Oscar ceremony in 1936, screenwriter Dudley Nichols became the first person to decline an Academy Award - he'd won Best Screenplay for The Informer - when he turned down the statue because of tension between several other industry guilds and the Academy regarding union issues.
- Until the 16th Oscar ceremony in 1944, the Best Supporting Actor and Actress winners didn't receive Oscar statues, but rather plaques, to commemorate their wins.
- The 25th Oscars, in 1953, were the first to be televised.
- The 60th ceremony in 1988 was almost undone by a Los Angeles traffic jam. Celeb-filled limos were so snarled in the jam that many famous types - including a very pregnant Glenn Close (a Best Actress nominee for Fatal Attraction) and 72-year-old presenter Olivia de Havilland - had to abandon their autos and "semi-jog," as Osborne puts it, to the ceremony, in their gowns and tuxes.
- When Tom Hanks accepted his first Oscar, for a gay AIDS patient in Philadelphia, in 1994, he thanked a gay teacher from his high school who had been an inspiration to him. The incident famously sparked the 1997 Kevin Kline comedy In & Out. But do you remember the name of Hanks' teacher? Rawley Farnsworth.
- It seems like Oscars have always been awarded on Sunday, but, in fact, the first Oscar ceremony held on a Sunday was the 71st show, in 1999.
The real question, of course, is, what will Osborne's next edition of the Oscar book say about this Sunday's ceremony, which promises to be one of the most, um, unique in years?