We tend to recognize firsts on every playing field in pop culture.
Recently we learned that NBC's Meredith Vieira was the first woman to host a prime-time Olympics broadcast (because her colleague Bob Costas had redness and swelling of the conjunctiva, the mucous membrane that lines the eyelid and eye surface -- aka pinkeye) at the 2014 games.
Barack Obama was the first African-American to be elected President of the United States in 2008.
In 2009 ABC's "All My Children" featured the first TV lesbian wedding between Bianca Montgomery (Eden Riegel) and Reese Williams (Tamara Braun).
With the 86th Academy Awards looming (March 2, 2014), we decided to do some research to bring you a few little-known facts about Academy Award firsts. If you want a little light reading while you're in the library (wink, wink), here are 20 fun Oscar-related "firsts" facts.
The first Academy Awards, which is the only AA ceremony not to be broadcast on either radio or television, took place on May 16, 1929. Held at a private dinner at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in L.A., the ceremony lasted 15 minutes, tickets cost five dollars and was attended by 270 people. Joan Rivers did not ask one person "who" they were wearing.
The first televised Academy Awards ceremony was in 1953. The first ceremony that aired in color was in 1966.
The first time the Academy replaced the phrase "And the winner is..." with "And the Oscar goes to..." was in 1989 at the 61st Academy Awards. Apparently "everyone" is a winner.
The first actress to announce herself as a winner in the Best Actress category was Norma Shearer in 1931 for "The Divorcee." That was the last time a nominated actor presented an award for his/her own category... "And the winner is... ME!!" Awkward!
The first African American actress to win an Academy Award was Hattie McDaniel. She won in the category of Best Supporting Actress for her role in the 1939 film "Gone With the Wind."
The first actor to turn down his Best Actor award was George C. Scott in 1970 for "Patton." He described the Oscars as " a [two-hour] meat parade." Two years later, "The Godfather" actor, Marlon Brando refused his award for Best Actor sending Sacheen Littlefeather on stage to read a statement on his behalf.
Elizabeth Taylor was the first actress with a mole on her right cheek to win Best Actress in a Leading Role. The "Cleopatra" actress won the prestigious award for her role in the 1960 film "Butterfield Eight. She should have won for "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof" instead, but who are we to question?
Ellen DeGeneres was the first gay American to host an Oscar telecast in 2007. She will be the second Oscar Host this year to hold that title and as far as we're concerned, the talk show host can host every Academy Awards Show from now until she turns 101. We love her so much, and she's just so damn funny!! (And, she should attend every awards show, sit in the front row and send out her hilarious tweets to the public at large just in case things get dull.) See her 2007 monologue here.
Toto (aka Terry) was the first canine to deserve a Best Supporting nod for his significant role in the 1939 film,"The Wizard of Oz," but the Academy overlooked him. He was one of the reasons that movie became a classic! The cutie pie Cairn Terrier jumped out of Miss Gulch's bicycle basket (the old witch!) -- who was taking him from Dorothy to have him put away -- and ran like his life depended on it... on cue. Run, Toto, run! Where's his hardware?
"Godfather, Part II," was the first sequel to win an Academy Award for Best Picture at the 47th Academy Awards in 1975 (for pictures made in 1974). Horses everywhere breathed a sigh of relief.
The first person named Oscar to win an Oscar was Oscar Hammerstein II for the song "The Last Time I saw Paris," in the 1941 movie "Lady Be Good."
The first animated film to be nominated for Best Picture was the 1991 film "Beauty and the Beast." (Back in Bugs Bunny's heyday, it would have been called a cartoon. What's up with that, doc?)
The first person to host the Academy Award ceremonies 18 times was comedian Bob Hope. The only way that record will be broken is if Ellen DeGeneres hosts the next 17 years which will make her 73 when she takes the record. By that time, 73 will be the new 43. #Vitamins (Okay, Billy Crystal, you're on notice, just in case.)
The first streaker to run across the stage buck naked was during the 1974 ceremony. For those of you who weren't born yet and think 'how cool is that!'... here's what went down: Actor David Niven was on stage introducing the Best Picture category, the streaker ran behind him, and almost without blinking, he said: "The only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping ... and showing his shortcomings." If you missed it, check it out here.
The first movie quote to go viral and take on a life of its own was, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." That quote, which was uttered by Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) in the 1939 film, "Gone With the Wind," was voted the most memorable American movie quotation of all time in 2005 by the American Film Institute. "Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore," came in fourth.
The first actress between the ages of 9 and 11 to win an Oscar by the voting process was Tatum O'Neal for her performance in the 1973 film "Paper Moon." (Shirley Temple received a special Juvenile Academy Award at the age of six for her outstanding contribution as a juvenile performer to motion pictures.)
The first (and only) tie in the category of the Best Actress went to Barbra Streisand ("Funny Girl") and Katharine Hepburn ("Lion in Winter") for their 1968 films.
George Burns was the first stand-up comedian (Burns & Allen) to be honored with an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor ("Sunshine Boys," 1975) -- which left the door opened for another funny man to get his due: Stand-up comedian and actor, Robin Williams received the Best Supporting Actor award for the 1997 film, "Good Will Hunting."
The first time all 10 leading acting nominees were Americans was 1985. (Harrison Ford, James Garner, Jack Nicholson, William Hurt, Jon Voight; Whoopi Goldberg, Meryl Streep, Anne Bancroft, Jessica Lange, Geraldine Page.)
CORRECTION: This post originally stated that Beauty and the Beast won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1991. The film was nominated but did not win.