The Academy Awards offer a huge, guaranteed audience of both industry and civilian fans. That makes it a unique opportunity for stars and non-stars alike to act out with the assurance that someone, somewhere will be paying attention to them.
And this has happened a lot.
As we approach the 87th Academy Awards, let’s take a look back at some of the strangest moments to grace Oscar night.
Some Dude Steals Alice Brady’s Oscar
In 1938, as the story goes, an unidentified man strode onstage to accept Alice Brady’s Best Supporting Actress Award (for In Old Chicago), because she was too ill to attend the ceremony herself. He promptly made off with it, and was never seen again. The Academy was nice enough to send her a replacement.
Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton Wear Each Other’s Blood
Were we ever so young? Leather pants, dragon tattoos, soul patches – so much about this relationship just seems like a time capsule from a crazier time. (And that time was the year 2000.)
David Letterman’s 1995 Oprah/Uma Joke
David Niven and the Streaker
“This thing that we call ‘failure,’ ” Mary Pickford wrote, “is not the falling down, but the staying down.” She might have been referring to the magnificent way in which David Niven (wittily referring to the intruder’s “shortcomings”) handled nearly being upstaged by a streaker (Robert Opel) at the 46th Academy Awards in 1974. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you remain cool under pressure.
Matt Stone and Trey Parker Trip and Not on Their Dresses
The South Park creators decided to dress in drag for the red carpet at the 2000 Oscars, but their pièce de resistance was the fact that they dropped acid before they arrived at the ceremony and refused to comment on their garb, instead making repeated references to “the magical evening.”
Sacheen Littlefeather Accepts Marlon Brando‘s Oscar
Native American activist Littlefeather represented Brando at the Oscars in 1973 when the actor refused to accept his Academy Award for The Godfather. He’d written a 15-page speech, but Littlefeather improvised a short speech onstage and read the entire prepared speech backstage to the press. The incident moved the Academy to forbid acceptance-by-proxy going forward.
Roberto Benigni Climbs Other Attendees
Benigni’s exuberance set a benchmark for acceptance speeches in 1998 that has yet to be topped. Except for
Adrien Brody Plants One on Halle Berry
Considering Brody’s post-Pianist career playing a skeeveball in Wes Anderson films and low-budget horror movies, this 2003 move seems a little less innocent in retrospect. But then again, wouldn’t you do the exact same thing if you were him?
Jack Palance Does Some One-Armed Pushups to Prove Something
Protesting diminishing roles for older actors, Palance did some one-armed pushups mid-speech in 1991. Let’s see you top that one, Meryl.
Ann Reinking Sings Phil Collins in Front of Phil Collins
The Academy to Phil Collins in 1985: “We really like this song you wrote. We nominated it for an award. Do you want to sing it the night of? Too bad. You have to watch someone else do that.”
Rob Lowe and Not-Snow White
The Academy Awards’ non-union Snow White equivalent performed with Rob Lowe in 1989, earning the Academy a threat of legal action from Disney. Lowe survived unscathed, eventually.