Last week America began fighting a war in Iraq. Four days later 33 million watched, live from Hollywood, the 75th Annual Academy Awards. At first glance the two seem irreconcilable: Celebrating anything as grand and gossamer as the Oscars while Americans risked their lives more than 7,500 miles away seemed to some jarringly inappropriate. Actors and presenters talked of dropping out; rumors spread that the show might be canceled.
And yet…even in war life goes on as it has in the past for the Oscars. In 1942, nearly three months after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, stars gathered for a military-themed evening. In 1991 CNN broke into Gulf War coverage to carry the Oscar nominations. This year after debate and soul searching, the show—muted, changed, more poignant to be sure—went on as it always has. Here’s what happened.