Watch what made the 1989 Oscars the worst ceremony ever (2023)

The Academy of Motion Pictures and Arts has had to struggle a lot this year to put together an Oscars ceremony. From scrapped new categories to backtracking on crucial decisions, the road to February 24 has been long and full of massive bumps. However, the biggest challenge rearing its head right now is the complete absence of a host, a first in 30 years.

Watch what made the 1989 Oscars the worst ceremony ever (1)

Kevin Hart was announced as this year’s Oscar host only to withdraw days later when people pointed out his old homophobic tweets and the comedian initially “chose to pass on the apology.” Hart finally apologised as he resigned, leaving the Oscars host-less for only the fifth time in its 91-year history.

The last time the Oscars were without a host was in 1989. The 61st Academy Awards—commonly known as the worst Oscars ever—was the cursed night when it all fell apart. However, the lack of a host was the least of Oscars problems that night.

Also read: Oscars 2019: Who should win at the Academy Awards this year? Vote for your favourites

(Video) The 11 minutes that ruined Hollywood producer Allan Carr's career forever

In 1989, stage producer Allen Carr was appointed by the Academy in a bid to try something new and refreshing for the audience. Allen was known for his ostentatious, colourful and over-the-top productions and the Academy thought he just might be the guy that helps him win over the viewers again. Surely, there was a lot that Carr deserved credit for. He was the one to make the red-carpet walks a thing. The stars and their outfits were given long coverage before they took their seats at the ceremony. Earlier, the red carpet footage was shown for a mere few minutes before the ceremony. Now, it is arguably what people find most interesting about award shows.

Carr was also the one to coin the iconic words, “And the Oscar goes to...”. Earlier, presenters would just say “And the winner is...” Of course, the host was also taken out of the picture to have the awards be presented by celebrities in pairs. However, that’s about it.

What pushed the ceremony off the cliff was the opening song and dance number itself. Carr kicked off the ceremony with an unknown young lady, dressed as Snow White and singing in high pitch, shaking hands with annoyed and uninterested actors. She was joined on stage by giant, glittery, golden stars and Merv Griffin (a talk show host) who began singing a rendition of I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts. Things got even more confusing as more and more veteran actors started appearing on stage, performing rehearsed dance steps. What drove the final nail in the coffin was Rob Lowe appearing on stage, flirting with Snow White and singing an entire song off-key.

Watch it here:

(Video) Bruce Vilanch on "The 1989 Oscars" with Rob Lowe and Snow White

The backlash to the ceremony was swift and brutal. Several publications and members of Hollywood community panned the programme soon after. Variety wrote, “The 61st Annual Academy Awards extravaganza—seen in 91 countries including, for the first time, the Soviet Union—turned out to be a TV nyet.” The New York Times wrote: “The 61st Academy Awards ceremony began by creating the impression that there would never be a 62nd.”

“The evening’s opening number, which deserves a permanent place in the annals of Oscar embarrassments, was indeed as bad as that,” wrote film critic Janet Maslin.

Even Disney washed its hand off the mess, condemning the Academy’s use of their character of Snow White. But the worst blow for Carr was when 17 Hollywood dignitaries stood against him. Julie Andrews, David Brown, Stanley Donen, Blake Edwards, John Foreman, William Friedkin, Larry Gelbart, Sidney Lumet, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Paul Newman, Alan J. Pakula, Gregory Peck, Martin Ritt, Mark Rydell, Peter Stone, Billy Wilder, and Fred Zinnemann wrote and signed a letter that read: “The 61st Academy Awards show was an embarrassment to both the Academy and the entire motion picture industry. It is neither fitting nor acceptable that the best work in motion pictures be acknowledged in such a demeaning fashion. We urge the president and governors of the Academy to ensure that future award presentations reflect the same standard of excellence as that set by the films and filmmakers they honor.” The letter spelled doom for Carr and is said to have affected him immensely. After the ordeal, he never worked on a single movie or stage production and died 10 years later.

However, the Academy still benefited from it all. The ceremony got an unbelievable 29.8 rating, unheard of in recent times. It was viewed by 42.7 million people in 26.9 million homes in US itself, according to a report in the LA magazine.

Hopefully, the Academy would not have to resort to another embarrassing ceremony this time to bump up the ratings.

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(Video) Whitney Houston - One Moment In Time - (Live at Grammy, 1989)


What was the controversy with the Oscars in 1989? ›

The backlash was swift. Disney, having realised that the Oscars hadn't licensed Snow White, sued for copyright infringement and dilution of business reputation. Carr never worked as a Hollywood producer again. Lowe's reputation wouldn't recover for a decade.

Is the 1989 Oscars the worst Oscars? ›

The overwhelming consensus among film historians is that the 61st Annual Academy Awards from 1989 is considered the worst Oscars ceremony of all time.

Why was there no Oscar host in 1989? ›

No host for the 61st Academy Awards

In 1989, Alan Carr, known for producing 'Grease' and 'Grease 2′ was given the privilege of producing the Oscars, when he decided there would be no host. Instead, Carr relied on presenters and performers to drive the show.

Who has been expelled from the Oscars and why? ›

Caridi, the first person ever kicked out of the Academy, was expelled in 2004 for making VCR copies of screeners and sharing them with friends and family, according to The Hollywood Reporter. One of the people he sent copies to was Russell Sprague, who shared the screeners online.

Who did the Oscars apologize to? ›

The former president of the Academy, David Rubin, wrote in the apology to Ms. Littlefeather that the abuse she faced because of the speech was “unwarranted and unjustified.” “For too long the courage you showed has been unacknowledged,” Mr. Rubin wrote.

What are the Oscars apologizing for? ›

Nearly five decades after her speech, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said that it is issuing a formal apology to Littlefeather for the “unwarranted and unjustified” abuse, “emotional burden” and “irreparable” cost to her career.

What two actors refused Oscars? ›

While Katherine Hepburn famously declined every invitation to attend the Academy Awards, she reportedly displayed the Oscars trophies she had won proudly in her home. However, Marlon Brando, George C. Scott, Dudley Nichols flat out refused the award.

What was the Oscar controversy Best Picture? ›

'Shakespeare in Love' Wins Best Picture Over 'Saving Private Ryan' John Madden's “Shakespeare in Love” triumphing over Steven Spielberg's war epic “Saving Private Ryan” for best picture at the 1999 Oscars remains one of the most controversial upsets in Academy Awards history.

What 8 categories were removed from the Oscars? ›

Of the 23 categories, eight awards — including documentary short, film editing, makeup and hairstyling, original score, production design, animated short, live action short and sound — will be handed out before the 94th annual ceremony is broadcast live on ABC on March 27, according to Variety and other outlets.

Who is the only actor to refuse an Oscar? ›

(NEXSTAR) – The Academy Award is generally regarded as one of the highest honors that an actor can receive — the keyword being “generally.” In the history of the Oscars, however, there have only been three people who refused their awards: actors George C. Scott and Marlon Brando, and screenwriter Dudley Nichols.

What actor refused an Oscar? ›

Oscar Winners Who Refused the Award, and Why They Protested
  • Marlon Brando. Paramount Pictures. Marlon Brando is a name that was and remains synonymous with Hollywood greatness. ...
  • George C. Scott. Columbia Pictures. ...
  • Dudley Nichols. RKO Radio Pictures.
Jan 26, 2023

Which actor received a 10 year ban from the Oscars? ›

Although Will Smith resigned from the Academy following his Oscars slap of Chris Rock, the organization has imposed a hefty penalty against the actor: A 10-year ban from the Oscars, as well as all Academy-related events.

What celebrity is banned from Oscars? ›

Who is banned from the Oscars? According to Insider, six other men have previously been banned from attending the Oscars or expelled from the organization: Richard Gere, Carmine Caridi, Bill Cosby, Roman Polanski, Adam Kimmel and Harvey Weinstein.

Has anyone's Oscar been revoked? ›

One of the most memorable categories from 1968 was the 'Best Documentary' award. That year, Young Americans, directed by Alexander Grasshoff, won the statuette and then had it revoked when it was discovered to have had theatrical showings in 1967, making it ineligible for the 1968 award.

Has anyone's Oscar been taken away? ›

In fact, though there are those who have rejected their Oscars (Marlon Brando, Dudley Nichols), only one award has ever been revoked in Academy history — the 1969 prize for Best Documentary, which was given to Young Americans before it was determined that the film was released in 1967 and therefore ineligible.

Who was the first actor to refuse an Oscar? ›

To date, just three people have rejected an Oscar out of well over 2,000 winners (though one of them eventually accepted it a few years later). The first person to reject an Oscar was screenwriter Dudley Nichols, who won for Best Screenplay for the 1935 film, 'The Informer'.

Who is the most thanked person at the Oscars? ›

And that includes God. A study published by The Hollywood Reporter (via Vocativ) finds that from the 1,396 acceptance speeches that are archived by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, director Steven Spielberg is thanked 42 times.

Who was the youngest Oscar winner? ›

Anthony Hopkins and Tatum O'Neal are the oldest and youngest winners of acting Oscars, winning at age 83 and age 10 respectively.

Who turned down 2023 Oscars? ›

Chris Rock Says He Turned Down Hosting 2023 Oscars After Will Smith Slap.

Who was the Native American booed at the Oscars? ›

Sacheen Littlefeather death: Who was the Native American activist booed off stage at the Oscars? S acheen Littlefeather, a Native American actor and activist who famously declined Marlon Brando's Oscar, has died aged 75. Littlefeather had been suffering from metastasised breast cancer.

Did the Academy apologize to Sacheen Littlefeather for her mistreatment at the 1973 Oscars? ›

The Academy apologizes to Sacheen Littlefeather for her treatment at the 1973 Oscars : NPR. The Academy apologizes to Sacheen Littlefeather for her treatment at the 1973 Oscars In 1973, Sacheen Littlefeather spoke on behalf of Marlon Brando at the Oscars about the depiction of Native Americans in Hollywood films.

Who walked out of the Oscars? ›

Leslie Jordan, Anne Heche, and Tom Sizemore left out of Oscars In Memoriam.

Who is the only man to win 3 best actor Oscars? ›

The British method actor Daniel Day-Lewis is the only performer to have ever achieved the feat of winning three Academy Awards for 'Best Actor', rightfully claiming the statuette for three excellent movies.

Why did Marlon Brando not accept Oscar? ›

The actress and activist Sacheen Littlefeather attended the ceremony in Brando's place, stating that the actor “very regretfully” could not accept the award, as he was protesting Hollywood's portrayal of Native Americans in film.

Why did Katherine Hepburn refuse the Oscar? ›

Katharine Hepburn won four Oscars during her career but she only attended the ceremony once — and it wasn't to accept an award! Katharine explained that to her, "prizes are nothing" and her "prize is [her] work." When she actually did attend the event, it was to present the Irving G.

What movie won the most Oscars but not Best Picture? ›

8 WINS: 'Cabaret' (1972)

“Cabaret” holds the distintion of winning the most Oscars without taking home the Best Picture prize.

What movie was banned from the Academy Award in 1982? ›

If You Love This Planet.

Who has won the most Oscars in all categories? ›

As of 2022, Katharine Hepburn maintained her lead as the actor with the most Oscar wins of all time. While the "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" star scored four acting accolades during her career, six fellow actors tied for the second spot with three wins each.

Who was missing at the Oscars? ›

Among those who didn't make the video: recently deceased actors Tom Sizemore and Robert Blake, as well as Anne Heche, Leslie Jordan and Paul Sorvino. Notably absent was 32-year-old actress Charlbi Dean, who died of bacterial sepsis in August.

Why did the Oscars cut off? ›

The Oscars are notorious for cutting off winners mid-speech once they go past 45 seconds. The 45-second rule was imposed in 2001, in an attempt to shorten the length of the show.

Who is the only person to present himself with an Oscar? ›

For Oscars presenter Irving Berlin, the original-song winner was like an old friend. Irving Berlin actually presented himself with the original-song Oscar at the 15th Oscars ceremony on March 4, 1943, at the Cocoanut Grove at the Ambassador Hotel.

Who is the only actress to have won an Oscar for playing a man? ›

Linda Hunt: the only woman to win an Oscar for playing a man.

Did Tom Hanks go to the Oscars 2023? ›

Snub: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson.

What Oscar categories were deleted? ›

The Best Sound Editing category has, to date, been the only Oscars category that's been cut from the ceremony permanently in the 21st century.

Can non celebrities go to the Oscars? ›

Unfortunately, the general public is not allowed to attend the Oscars. This event is by invitation only and is an exclusive event for the nominees and their guests.

What is the controversy with the Oscars 2023? ›

Academy stresses punishments for violations in new rule changes after 2023 Oscars controversies. The Academy is cracking down on violation punishments in rule changes for screenings, campaigns, and social media after Andrea Riseborough and Michelle Yeoh controversies.

Why was Charlie Chaplin's Oscar nomination rescinded? ›

The Academy feared Chaplin's movie would muscle out all competitors to win in each category, so they decided to rescind his nominations across three categories: 'Best Writing (Original Story)', 'Best Actor' and 'Best Director in a Comedy Picture'.

What happens if you lose an Oscar? ›

A complete report on how it was lost needs to be presented to the Academy. If the statuette is broken or burnt, the damaged award needs to be returned to the Academy apart by submitting a request for a new one. Based on that complaint, the Academy will consider giving out another statuette.

Who left their Oscar in the bathroom? ›

For a very long time, Kevin Costner kept his pair of Oscars in his underwear drawer because he didn't want anyone to take them if they visited his house. However, he eventually moved the golden statues to a screening room in his home next to posters of movies that influenced him growing up.

Who were the 5 people expelled from the Oscars? ›

In its 94-year history, the Academy has expelled only five members: Carmine Caridi, Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Roman Polanski, and cinematographer Adam Kimmel.

What controversy happened at the Oscars? ›

Smith slapping famous comedian Chris Rock during the 94th Academy Awards is considered one of the most controversial moments in the history of award ceremonies.

What was the Native American Oscar scandal? ›

Few Academy Awards ceremonies have been as eventful as the one held in 1973, when Marlon Brando sent Native American activist Sacheen Littlefeather to explain why he was rejecting his award. Christina Newland reflects on the controversy.

What are the allegations against Oscar? ›

Oscar De La Hoya accused of sexually assaulting woman twice in 2020. Boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya has been accused of sexual assault in a civil lawsuit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles against him and his tequila brand, Casa Mexico, according to court documents obtained by ESPN.

Why did Jack Nicholson want to boycott the Oscars? ›

Jack Nicholson Reportedly Wanted to Boycott the Oscars to Protest the Iraq War. According to Oscar winner Adrien Brody, Nicholson asked his fellow best-actor nominees to boycott the ceremony with him in 2003.

Who are the three people banned from the Oscars? ›

Who is banned from the Oscars? According to Insider, six other men have previously been banned from attending the Oscars or expelled from the organization: Richard Gere, Carmine Caridi, Bill Cosby, Roman Polanski, Adam Kimmel and Harvey Weinstein.

What incident happened at the Oscars? ›

It was one of the most infamous moments in Academy Awards history that became known as "the slap." The world could not stop talking about Will Smith striking comedian Chris Rock onstage at the 2022 Oscars after Rock made a joke about Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

What exactly happened at the Oscars? ›

"CODA" was crowned best picture, taking home the top honor of the night. Ariana DeBose made history as first Afro Latina, openly queer actor of color to win Oscar. Will Smith appeared to hit Chris Rock onstage over a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

Who were the people to reject Oscar? ›

While Katherine Hepburn famously declined every invitation to attend the Academy Awards, she reportedly displayed the Oscars trophies she had won proudly in her home. However, Marlon Brando, George C. Scott, Dudley Nichols flat out refused the award.

Who was the Native American who spoke at the Oscars? ›

In 1973, actress and activist Sacheen Littlefeather took the stage at the Oscars dressed in a beaded buckskin dress in place of Marlon Brando, after he was awarded Best Actor for his role as Vito Corleone in “The Godfather.” Claiming Apache heritage, she spoke eloquently, to a backdrop of boos, of the mistreatment of ...

Who have been kicked out of the Oscars? ›

Only a very small number of academy members have ever been expelled, including Harvey Weinstein, Roman Polanski, Bill Cosby and the actor Carmine Caridi, who was kicked out for sharing awards screeners.

Did Will Smith refuse to leave the Oscars? ›

In a statement, the Academy said that Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused. Shortly after the incident, Smith went on to accept his award as Best Actor for his role in the film "King Richard." The Academy said it was "a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television." "Mr.

What did Will Smith refuse to do at the Oscars? ›

Will Smith was asked to leave the Oscars ceremony after hitting Chris Rock but refused, the Academy says. The event's organising body also said it had initiated "disciplinary proceedings" against Smith.

Why did Al Pacino not go to Oscars? ›

“I was somewhat uncomfortable with being in that situation, being in that world,” he said. “I was also working onstage in Boston at that time [with Richard III]. But that was an excuse. I just was afraid to go.”


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