Why Do We Have the Oscars?

Silver Screenings

The first televised Academy Awards in 1953. Image: The Hollywood Reporter

No one can say for certain who gave the name “Oscar” to the Academy Awards statuette.

Bette Davis said it was she, because it reminded her of then-husband Harmon O. (Oscar) Nelson. Some say the Academy librarian, Margaret Herrick, named it after her Uncle Oscar. Hollywood columnist Sidney Skolsky says he named the statuette Oscar to “erase the phony dignity”.¹

But there is no disputing the driving force behind the Academy and its awards: MGM co-founder and producer, Louis B. Mayer.

According to the reproachful Anthony Holden, author of Behind the Oscar: The Secret History of the Academy Awards, the whole business started because Mayer wanted to build a beach house.

(Now, if you’ve been employed for any length of time, you know how it goes when your boss asks you to work…

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