Guest Author - Amber Grey
Forty-five seconds. That is the limit for every person who steps up to the podium when they receive their Oscar. Some have accepted more than one in their lifetime, while some of the most talented people in Hollywood never received one. Forty-five seconds is the allotted time in which the winner has to compress every “thank you” to every person that has ever supported them or gloat to the people who did not. Sometimes those three-fourths of a minute have been memorable and heart-warming, such as Vivien Leigh’s acceptance speech for “Best Actress” in 1939. Some have been launched into pop culture history - “You like me! You really like me!.” But, in truth, some of them are just too darn long. Have you ever wondered who holds the longest acceptance speech for an Academy Award? And how long it was?
The winner is actress Greer Garson for her portrayal as “Mrs. Miniver” in the World War II drama, “Mrs. Miniver” (1942). How long was it? It was so long that not one transcript can be found of the actual acceptance speech. It is a shame, since this was the speech which witnesses and reporters swore lasted for three hours. However, according to "The Guiness Book of World Records," Greer Garson's acceptance speech, in actuality, clocked in at about six minutes.
What remains of the speech is the beginning when Greer Garson graciously took her award from Joan Fontaine, stepped up to the podium and began saying, “I’m practically unprepared.” It was not your normal "thank you" speech either. Greer Garson took a different route for her speech. She reiterated why everyone was there, how much the Academy Awards means to the film community, and what film means as a medium of artistic expression.
And if there is anything that a room full of people do not want after a long evening of giving out the same award over and over again is a speech reminding them about why they are there. To make matters worse it was the last speech of the night and it was nearing two in the morning! Greer Garson never won another Oscar.
Before Greer Garson, anyone who won an Oscar could stand up at the podium and talk for as long as they wanted but no one ever thought that a winner would take it literally. After Greer Garson, forty-five seconds was set as the allotted time for an acceptance speech and they were cut off at the mark.
Fortunately, we have Greer Garson to thank for limiting the acceptance speeches. Just think of all the possible speeches Academy Award watchers would have to suffer through now with the inflated egos of today’s Hollywood. It’s incomprehensible. And you may ask, if there is a holding for the longest speech in Oscar history, is there a shortest speech holding in Oscar history? Yes, there is. And the winner is Alfred Hitchcock when he won the Irving G. Thalberg award in 1968. “Hitch” walked onto the stage, took his award from Robert Wise and said, “Thank you.” And walked off.