Most Academy Awards for Best Actress

1964 Academy Awards® Winners and History

1964
The winner is listed first, in CAPITAL letters.

Actor:
REX HARRISON in "My Fair Lady", Richard Burton in "Becket", Peter O'Toole in "Becket", Anthony Quinn in "Zorba the Greek", Peter Sellers in "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying..."
Actress:
JULIE ANDREWS in "Mary Poppins", Anne Bancroft in "The Pumpkin Eater", Sophia Loren in "Marriage Italian Style", Debbie Reynolds in "The Unsinkable Molly Brown", Kim Stanley in "Seance on a Wet Afternoon"
Supporting Actor:
PETER USTINOV in "Topkapi", John Gielgud in "Becket", Stanley Holloway in "My Fair Lady", Edmond O'Brien in "Seven Days in May", Lee Tracy in "The Best Man"
Supporting Actress:
LILA KEDROVA in "Zorba the Greek", Gladys Cooper in "My Fair Lady", Edith Evans in "The Chalk Garden", Grayson Hall in "The Night of the Iguana", Agnes Moorehead in "Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte"
Director:
GEORGE CUKOR for "My Fair Lady", Michael Cacoyannis for "Zorba the Greek", Peter Glenville for "Becket", Stanley Kubrick for "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying...", Robert Stevenson for "Mary Poppins"

The Best Picture winner in 1964, Warner Bros.' and director George Cukor's My Fair Lady, was about the transformative training of a rough-speaking flower girl into a lady. The enchanting musical had run for many years on the stage (in both NYC and London). Rex Harrison was called upon to bring his marvelous characterization of perfectionist Svengali phonetics Professor Higgins to the screen.

My Fair Lady emerged as the overall winner with eight Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Musical Score, Best Costume Design, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, and Best Sound. It was Warner Bros.' first long-overdue Best Picture Oscar win since Casablanca (1943), 21 years earlier.

Its win involved an upset and turnaround, however. British-born unknown screen star Julie Andrews, long-time Broadway star in Lerner and Loewe's musical version of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, did not appear in the Warner Bros. film version. Andrews was replaced in the lead starring role of cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle by non-singing film star Audrey Hepburn (whose singing voice was dubbed by Marni Nixon - a voice also used for Deborah Kerr in The King and I (1956) and for the un-nominated Natalie Wood in West Side Story (1961)).

While Hepburn wasn't nominated for a Best Actress award for her role, Julie Andrews was cast in the title role (in her debut film) and nominated as Best Actress for Disney's live-action and cartoon blend and Robert Stevenson's director-nominated Mary Poppins, as a no-nonsense adventurous nanny. This popular film condensed several Poppins books by P. L. Travers and told the story of an English nanny who takes charge of the unsettled household of a proper London banker.

My Fair Lady experienced serious rivalry and contention with the sugary Mary Poppins. [Note: The two musicals nominated for Best Picture had ulie Andrews in common.] Each film had an impressive number of nominations: Mary Poppins had 13 and My Fair Lady had 12. Mary Poppins ended up with five Oscar wins: Best Actress (Julie Andrews), Best Song ("Chim, Chim Cher-ee"), Best Music Score, Best Film Editing, and Best Visual Effects.

All five directors of the Best Picture nominees were also nominated as Best Director, the second time in Oscar history. (It also happened in 1957 and 1981.) The Oscar for Best Director (for My Fair Lady) was also a first-time, long-overdue win for veteran, 65 year-old film-maker George Cukor. [With his win, Cukor became the oldest person to receive a Best Director award up to that time. He has recently been surpassed by 69 year-old Roman Polanski's win for The Pianist (2002). In his prodigious career, often known as "a woman's director, " Cukor had directed such outstanding films as A Bill of Divorcement (1932), Little Women (1933), David Copperfield (1935), Camille (1936), The Philadelphia Story (1940), Gaslight (1944), A Double Life (1947), Adam's Rib (1949), Born Yesterday (1950), and A Star Is Born (1954).]

The other directors nominated for exceptional films in 1964 included:

  • Michael Cacoyannis for the film adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis' best-selling novel Zorba the Greek (with seven nominations and three wins - Best Supporting Actress, Best B/W Cinematography, and Best B/W Art Direction/Set Decoration)
  • Robert Stevenson for the colorful, fanciful musical Mary Poppins
  • Peter Glenville for the historical epic based on Jean Anouilh's play, Becket (with twelve nominations and only one win - Best Adapted Screenplay (Edward Anhalt)) about the conflict and decline of the 'friendship' between the monarchy and church represented by King Henry II of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket
  • Stanley Kubrick for his great black comedy masterpiece about a doomsday scenario, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying... (with four nominations and no wins). [Kubrick's satirical film has the distinction of having the longest title among all Best Picture nominees in Academy history.]

For the first time in Academy history, all four of the acting awards were won by non-American, foreign-born actors - three Britons (Rex Harrison, Julie Andrews and Peter Ustinov) and Russian-born actress Lila Kedrova (who lived in France). All five Best Actor nominees were born outside of the US (and four were British). [Note: This occurred a second time in 2007 when all four of the performance Oscar winners were non-Americans.]

The winner of the Best Actor award was Rex Harrison re-creating his Broadway role as crusty, crisp-speaking, and irascible linguistics Professor Henry Higgins who 'talk-sings' his...

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