Over the last 64 years of the Oscars’ broadcasts, some of us watch for the fashion. Some of us watch for the big-ticket production numbers. Some of us even care which movies win. But mostly, we watch for those surprising, startling and shocking moments that only live television can bring. Here are five of our favorites.
David Niven and the streaker
Easily the most notorious moment in Oscar history happened during the 46th Academy Awards in 1974. As co-host David Niven was introducing Elizabeth Taylor he was briefly upstaged by a streaker, Robert Opel, who jogged across the stage behind him, flashing a peace sign as he passed the podium. The quick-witted Niven’s perfectly delivered riposte — “Isn’t it fascinating to think that probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings” — is as legendary as the streaking itself.
Sacheen Littlefeather Declines Brando’s Award
Another of the Oscars’ most electrifying moments came in 1973 during the 45th Academy Awards, when a little-known actress named Sacheen Littlefeather declined Marlon Brando’s Best Actor statue for The Godfather on his behalf. Littlefeather improvised a poised but heartfelt statement decrying the film industry’s treatment of Native Americans, which aroused a brief but unsettling war of boos and applause that remains one of the realest displays of emotion in Oscars’ history. Although threatened with arrest by producer Howard W. Koch backstage, Littlefeather went on to act in a handful of drive-in films over the next couple of years. The Oscars quickly banned the practice of allowing winners to send proxies onstage on their behalf.
1988: Cher’s Fashion Risk Pays Off
Even after she became a respected actress, Cher never stopped dressing in the kitschy glam outfits she’d first made famous during her career as a pop star. Her 1986 outfit, featuring a bare midriff and an enormous Mohawk-styled headpiece, was her most infamous look. However, in 1988 she wore less clothing than pretty much any major award nominee ever , when she took home the Best Actress Oscar for her role in the romantic comedy Moonstruck
Jack Palance’s One-Armed Push-Ups. Awkward!
There have been some legendarily excited winners: think Cuba Gooding Jr.’s backflip, or Roberto Benigni literally walking across the backs of the seats on his way to the stage. But for sheer macho badassery, no one can top the 64th Academy Awards in 1992, when a 73-year-old Jack Palance dropped to the stage mid-acceptance speech to bust out a few one-armed push-ups. Especially after sneering at that year’s host (and his City Slickers co-star), “Billy Crystal…I crap bigger than him.” Crystal quite literally got the last laugh, spending the rest of the night delivering quips like “Jack Palance just bungee jumped off the Hollywood sign.”
The Award for Best Faceplant Goes To…
It’s not that often that you can point to the exact moment when a young star officially becomes America’s sweetheart, but it happened last year at the 85th Academy Awards when Jennifer Lawrence won her first Oscar, for her role in Silver Linings Playbook. It was the actress’ second nomination. But America’s new sweet heart was made when the endearingly awkward Lawrence tripped over her own gown while navigating the stairs to the podium. Both her remarkably self-assured recovery and her self-deprecating ad-lib in response to her standing ovation (“You guys are just standing up because you feel bad that I fell!”) immediately made her the imaginary best friend of every film fan in America.
So when those classic moments happen during the 86th Academy Awards on March 2, 2014, you’ll be ready to watch them again and again with the Logitech Harmony Ultimate. Control up to 15 devices, including Philips Hue lights that you can adjust to just the right movie theater mood. You can even turn your smartphone into a powerful remote to watch that unplanned incident over and over. It’s the perfect way to complete your home entertainment center.
Any moments you wish would reappear this year? Any big ones we left out? Share them in the comments.