Here are some of the worst and some of the best Oscar speeches in memory:
BAD OSCAR SPEECHES
Greer Garson, accepting her Oscar for “Mrs. Miniver” (1942), stepped to the podium saying,” I’m practically unprepared.” She rambled on for 7 minutes. A time limit was imposed on all future winners. (www.thegoldenyears.org/garson.html).
Another memorably bad acceptance speech came from one of the greatest of actors, Laurence Olivier. Given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on April 9, 1979 by Cary Grant, Olivier burbled on about “the great firmament of your nation’s generosity. The prodigal pure human kindness of it. A beautiful star in that firmament which shines on one at this moment…the euphoria that happens to so many of us at the first breath of the majestic glow of a new tomorrow.” (www.murphsplace.com/olivier/oscar.html)
Maureen Stapleton for “Reds” and Kim Basinger for “L.A. Confidential” said they were thanking everyone they’d ever met in their entire lives. (Stapleton, 1987; Basinger,1998).
Marlon Brando sent Sacheen Littlefeather to pick up his award for “The Godfather” on March 27, 1973 (“I think awards in this country at this time are inappropriate to be received or given until the condition of the American Indians is drastically altered. If we are not our brother’s keeper, at least let us not be his executioner.”). The truth was that “Sacheen Littlefeather” was Maria Cruz, a little-known California actress. (www.snopes.com).
James Cameron’s “I’m King of the World” moment after “Titanic” on March 14, 2008 (www.vanityfair.com) was off-putting/ Jonathan Demme said “uh” 40 times in a 5-minute speech for “Silence of the Lambs.” (1992). Sally Fields’ trilled “You like me, you really like me” in 1985 after her 2nd win in 5 years (“Norma Rae,” followed by “Places in the Heart”).
A few memorable Oscar speeches follow: (“The Oscar Acceptance Speech: By and Large It’s a Lost Art” by Washington Post writer Sharon Waxman, March 21, 1999, and from www.quotations.about.com.
Robin Williams, Best Supporting Actor for “Good Will Hunting” in 1998: “Most of all, I want to thank my father up there, the man who, when I said I wanted to be an actor, said, ‘Wonderful! Just have a back-up profession…like welding.'”
Maurice Jarre, 1985, Best Score for “Passage to India,” the year of “Amadeus:” “I was lucky Mozart was not eligible this year.”
Jessica Yu, Best Short Subject Documentary, 1997: “You know you’ve entered new territory when you realize that your outfit cost more than your film.”
Shirley MacLaine, 1983, winning Best Actress for “Terms of Endearment:” “I deserve this.”
Dianne Wiest, 1987, Best Supporting Actress for “Hannah and Her Sisters,” “Gee, this isn’t like I imagined it would be in the bathtub.”
Jane Fonda, Best Actress for “Klute,” 1972, “There’s a great deal to say, but I’m not going to say it tonight.”
John Wayne, finally winning for his role as Rooster Cogburn in “True Grit” in 1970 (a one-eyed cowboy role reprised this year by Jeff Bridges) told presenter Barbra Streisand: “If I’d known that, I’d have put that patch on 35 years earlier.”
Paul Williams, the diminutive songwriter, (co-writer of “Evergreen” with Streisand) in 1977: “I was going to thank all the little people, but then I remembered that I am the little people.
Barbra Streisand in the see-through pants suit the year she tied with Katharine Hepburn (1968) memorably greeted the golden Oscar with “Hello, Gorgeous!” (“Funny Girl,” Streisand; “The Lion in Winter,” Hepburn).
Ruth Gordon, age 72 in 1969, winning for “Rosemary’s Baby” toddled to the microphone and said, “I can’t tell you how encouraging a thing like this is.”
And, for one of the best speeches of all time, click on www.fliiby.com on YouTube.com and watch Poitier, in 2009 at the 74th Academy Awards hold the crowd’s rapt attention as he said, “I accept this award in memory of all the African American actors and actresses who have gone before.” Poitier’s is truly one of the best speeches ever given anywhere.