The dresses and the acceptance speeches are often more hotly debated than the awards on Oscar night. Everyone remembers Sally Fields’ famous, “You like me!” speech and Cuba Gooding, Jr.’s impetuous, “I love you!” Jack Palance did one-handed push-ups. Adrian Brody saw one of the most beautiful woman in history read his name and it was easy to understand why he could not resist the temptation to sweep Halle Berry into his arms for a passionate kiss. Julia Roberts told the conductor he’d better not start waving his baton to start the music because she had more to say. Roberto Benigni climbed over the chairs on his way to the stage. Louise Fletcher (Best Actress, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) memorably used American Sign Language for her thank yous because her parents are deaf. When Tom Hanks thanked his high school drama teacher in his acceptance speech for playing a gay lawyer in “Philadelphia,” he appeared to out him as well (Hanks had called for permission). That inspired the Kevin Kline movie “In and Out.”
Clark Gable (Best Actor, “It Happened One Night”) gave the shortest speech, just “Thank you.” Greer Garson (Best Actress, “Mrs. Miniver) gave the longest speech. While it is sometimes reported as having lasted over an hour, in reality, according to the official historian of the awards, it was just seven minutes. But it was after 1 am and it probably seemed longer. Garson was a good sport. The following year, as a presenter, she got up to the podium and said, “As I was saying….”
What’s your guess about who gets thanked the most often? Parents? Drama coach? Director? Agent? Slate has done a comprehensive analysis of the past decade of Oscar acceptance speeches and it is a lot of fun. I wonder why God is thanked so much more frequently at the Grammys and MTV awards than the Oscars.