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Movies & TV

08th Apr 2022

In 94 ceremonies, only one Oscar has ever been taken back by the Academy

Rory Cashin

People had wondered if Will Smith’s Oscar would be the second.

When you’re talking about the biggest night of the year for movie makers and movie lovers, drama is bound to happen.

In recent years, the biggest drama involved Warren Beatty accidentally saying La La Land had won the Best Picture Oscar when instead it should have, and did, go to Moonlight.

However, the 94th Academy Awards wiped that drama from memory, thanks to Will Smith slapping Chris Rock following a joke made about Jada Pinkett-Smith.

Earlier on Friday, the Academy met to discuss whether or not to rescind his Best Actor award.

Instead, it ultimately decided to ban Smith from attending the Oscars in person or virtually for 10 years.

That means, as it stands, only one Oscar has ever been taken back by the Academy which occurred in 1969.

Young Americans is a documentary giving a behind-the-scenes look at the titular show choir made up of young singers who projected an image of all-American wholesomeness as they tour the country and perform their songs.

In April 1969, the movie won Best Documentary at the 41st Academy Awards ceremony, only for director Alex Grasshoff and producer Robert Cohn to ultimately have to hand back their Oscars on a technicality.

It turns out that the movie was shown once in a theatre in October 1967, making it ineligible for the 1968 award’s window for the Oscars.

In 2008, just after Grasshoff had passed away, his wife Madilyn Clark Grasshoff told the LA Times the following:

“We slept with the Oscar the first night. It was very, very exciting, my gosh. [But] what happened was, it was a trial sneak preview in some little town in, like, North Carolina. I don’t know why they didn’t fight it, because it was not released.”

Academy Awards historian Robert Osborne said of the event:

“I always point it out because it’s so unusual. But it’s also a great cautionary tale for everybody, because even if you win an Oscar, you can’t be totally sure you’re going to keep it.

“It’s also a great indication that the academy doesn’t take any of these things casually, and they really follow through to make sure the rules are followed.”

In May 1969, first runner-up Journey Into Self – a 47-minute movie whittled down from a 16-hour group-therapy session for eight well-adjusted people who had never met before – was presented with the Best Documentary Feature Oscar.

Alex Grasshoff was nominated for two more Academy Awards throughout his career, both for Best Documentary – 1967’s The Really Big Family and 1973’s Journey to the Outer Limits – but he never got to take home (and keep) an Oscar.

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