The Oscars rarely go off without a hitch, but these ten moments go well beyond the too-long acceptance speech or flubbed line. These ten moments are among the worst in the award ceremony’s history.
How did #3 make it to air?
Opel the Streaker (1974)
As host David Niven introduced Elizabeth Taylor during the 40th Academy Awards, photographer and activists Robert Opel ran nude across the stage. The crowd erupted with laughter and cheers. Niven played it off with a one liner after regaining his composure, but the moment made Opel a minor celebrity.
Redgrave Gets Political (1978)
While accepting the Best Supporting Actress for Julia, Vanessa Redgrave decided to take a shot at those who criticized a documentary she made about Palestine, referring to critics as “Zionist hoodlums.” The crowd, of course, was not pleased with her choice of words and responded with thunderous boos. Political statements are always risky at the Oscars, but such language was doomed to fail.
Billy in Blackface (2012)
It was intended as an homage to Sammy Davis Jr, but here’s the problem: wearing blackface during a national broadcast doesn’t go over well with modern audiences. Why Billy Crystal thought it was a good idea is beyond us; he could have done the impression just the same without.
Jerry Lewis Improv (1958)
When NBC realized they still had twenty minutes of air time once the award show actually ended, Lewis decided to entertain the audience with improv comedy. This proved so disastrous that NBC abruptly ended the broadcast and aired a short educational film to finish the time slot.
Brando Littlefeather (1972)
With his career on the upswing thank to The Godfather, Brando took his award as an opportunity to slam Hollywood’s treatment of Native Americans. Not only did he not show up, he sent Sanchen Littlefeather (who is a genuine Apache or an actress depending on who you ask) to read a speech to reporters rather than give an acceptance speech.