The Design of the Oscar

The Design of the Oscar
Have you ever wondered who designed the Oscar statuette? Or which actor may have posed for it? Is it really made of gold? How did he get the name "Oscar" anyway?

The designer of the "Oscar" was MGM Studios' talented art director Cedric Gibbons, who along with Mary Pickford and Cecil B. DeMille, was one of the 36 founding members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Gibbons himself was nominated 39 times for his work in film and took home 11 statuettes including his work for "The Merry Widow" (1934),"Little Women" (1949) and "An American In Paris" (1951).

If you were wondering what exactly is Gibbon's design, it is of a knight standing proudly on top of a film reel with a crusader's sword in hand. The five spokes of the film reel stands for the essential roles for creating a great film - directors, actors, technicians and writers. The model for the statuette was Mexican director/actor Emilio "El Indio" Fernandez who was introduced to Gibbons through his wife, the famous Dolores Del Rio. Rumor has it that Fernandez was reluctant at first but eventually posed nude for the design.

The official name for the award is Academy Award of Merit but his nickname "Oscar" has its numerous unconfirmed origins. Actors such as Katherine Hepburn, Bette Davis and John Barrymore are amongst the claimants to the name. The Academy did not officially adopt the nickname until 1939.

The Oscar statuettes are born in January of each year, a few months before the actual ceremony. They are made by hand by a Chicago, Illinois company called R.S. Owens. It takes an average five hours to cast the statuettes and in the end they stand tall at approximately 13.5 inches, and weigh 8.5 pounds.

For anyone who may be disappointed to hear, the statuettes are not made of real gold. They are in fact made of Brittania Metal and are plated with 24-karat gold. However, it is worth noting that in World War II, in an effort to extend their patriotic efforts, the Academy decided for the statuettes to be made of plaster but were traded for real ones after the war.

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