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13th Mar 2023

An Irish actor holds a very bizarre Oscar record

Rory Cashin


And it is a record that can now never be broken.

Over the years, there have been only a handful of Irish actors who have managed to take home an Academy Award. Brenda Fricker won Best Supporting Actress for her role in My Left Foot, while Daniel Day-Lewis took home three Best Actor awards throughout his career to date, for My Left Foot, There Will Be Blood and Lincoln.

All four of the nominees for The Banshees of Inisherin went home empty handed this weekend, but the most interesting win to date is also the one you’ve probably heard the least about; Barry Fitzgerald won Best Supporting Actor for his role in 1944 musical comedy drama Going My Way. However, bizarrely and uniquely, in something that has never been repeated before or since, Fitzgerald was also nominated for Best Actor that year… for the same movie… for the exact same role!

Fitzgerald lost out on the Best Actor win to his Going My Way co-star Bing Crosby, which was another of the seven Oscars wins that year, including Best Picture. It was also the biggest box office hit of 1944, beating out the likes of Double Indemnity, Gaslight and Meet Me In St. Louis.

The movie deals with a young priest Father O’Malley (Crosby), who arrives at his new church, but old Father Fitzgibbon (Fitzgerald) doesn’t think much of the church’s newest member, and they work out their differences with big musical numbers throughout.

Fitzgerald, who was born in Dublin in 1888, would also go on to feature in arguably one of the most famous “Irish” movies ever made, starring alongside John Wayne in The Quiet Man, before passing away in 1961. But throughout his career, and even all of these decades later, no other performer has ever found themselves nominated for both Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor for the same role in the same movie in the same year.

And it never can happen again, as the Academy changed their rules to make sure it couldn’t. As per their rulebook: “If any performance should receive votes in both categories, the achievement shall be placed only on the ballot in that category in which, during the tabulation process, it first receives the required number of votes to be nominated. In the event that the performance receives the number of votes required to be nominated in both categories simultaneously, the achievement shall be placed only on the ballot in that category in which it receives the greater percentage of the total votes.”

So there you go. No matter what else Irish performers win or lose, we’ll forever hold on to this one unique record breaker.

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