Marisa Tomei Oscar nominations

Did Marisa Tomei really win? Six Oscar myths debunked

Marisa Tomei and Joe Pesci in My Cousin VinnyIn it, the publication claimed that “a rumour is currently making the rounds in Manhattan, fanned by no less than the former son-in-law of a distinguished Academy Award winner, to wit that last year Marisa Tomei received her Oscar statue by error”. In the version reported, Palance “arbitrarily” reads out Tomei’s name after being unable to make out the name on the card.

The articles quickly dismisses the rumour as impossible, pointing out that two members of the accounting company responsible for regulating the Oscars ballots are sat backstage at all times, ready to leap into action should a mistake be made.A victim of the Oscars curse? Halle Berry in Monster's Ball But, after their report, the story quickly spread: Entertainment Weekly covered it (again, pointing out that it probably wasn’t true) and Tomei herself eventually took part in several Saturday Night Live skits, designed to poke fun at the rumour. And in 1997, film critic Rex Reed fanned the flames of conspiracy, after he claimed on TV that a “massive cover-up” had taken place.

Hattie McDaniel with Vivien Leigh in Gone with the WindThese days, perhaps the most obvious rebuttal comes via YouTube, where the video of Tomei’s win makes it pretty clear that Palance is reading her name off the card (skip to 1.27).

2. Were they named after someone’s uncle?

No-one seems to know exactly where “Oscar” – the friendly-sounding nickname for both the Academy Award statuettes and for the ceremony itself – comes from.McDaniel receiving her 1940 Oscar for Best Supporting Actress An often-cited story, however, claims that the name was the creation of Academy librarian and director Margaret Herrick, who once pointed out that the gong “looked just like” her Uncle Oscar.

This has always sounded a little unlikely, and it turns out the truth could a bit more complex.

The first written example of the term, for instance, was in 1934, in an article by the Hollywood gossip writer Sidney Skolsky. But, instead of attributing Herrick and her uncle, Skolsky later claimed that he coined the phrase himself, as a way to mock the “phony dignity” of Hollywood and of the awards themselves.

A freshly gold-plated Oscars statuette“You know how people can rub you the wrong way? The word was a crowd of people. I’d show them, acting so high and mighty about their prize. I’d give it a name. A name that would erase their phony dignity. I needed the magic name fast. But fast! I remembered the vaudeville shows I’d seen. The comedians having fun with the orchestra leader in the pit would say, “Will you have a cigar, Oscar?” The orchestra leader reached for it; the comedians backed away, making a comical remark. The audience laughed at Oscar. I started hitting the keys…”

Elsewhere, it’s been suggested that actress Bette Davis may have “named” the award, after her husband Harmon Oscar Nelson Jr, although few people now believe this to be true.

3. Is there an Oscars curse?

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