Tag Archives: Louis B. Mayer

Americana: Academy Awards

The Oscar statuette is 13.5 inches tall and weighs 8.5 pounds. Except for some slight streamlining of its base, it remains virtually unchanged since it was first handed out in 1928. Uploaded by reviewsinhd.com.

It was the boss of MGM, Louis B. Mayer, who came up with the idea. Like Andy Hardy – “Let’s put on a show!” He got the other studios to buy in on the idea, and the first Academy Awards presentation debuted on May 16, 1929.

That first ceremony drew 270 people for a brunch that costs $5 per ticket. Now, valet parking would be insulted with a $5 tip. The Oscar statuette made its appearance at that first show, and save for some minor streamlining of the base, is essentially the same today as back then. Wings won the first Best Picture; but then, if you know movie trivia, you probably knew that.

The Oscar show has been hosted by a wide variety of actors and comedians over the decades. The recent ones you know, but some of the earlier hosts included Will Rogers (1934), Frank Capra (1936), Fred Astaire (1951), and Jerry Lewis (1957).

Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker. Uploaded by lightstalker.org.

Because of the success of the Oscars, each entertainment medium gives out awards to pat itself on the back. The Tonys, the Grammys, the Emmys, various Critics awards. Shoot, everyone who puts out a 25-cent picture magazine in Nashville has some kind of Country Music award. But only one is a title that comes as close to British peerage as we have in this country. “May I introduce John Smith, John Doe, and Academy Award Winner Jane Doe.”

Song: “Over the Rainbow”

Judy Garland will always be linked to this song -- and she was just fine with that. Uploaded by images2.fanpop.com.

Louis B. Mayer is one of the greatest executives in the history of motion pictures. But he almost made the mistake of his life when he deleted “Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz following a preview. He said it slowed down the movie, and “Our star sings it in a barnyard.”

Fortunately, he was talked back from the edge, and this song earned the honor as “Song of the Century” in a list compiled by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts. The American Film Institute also named it the greatest movie song of all time.

Uploaded by 4.bp.blogspot.com.

Judy Garland will always be linked to her signature song, which she always performed just as it was heard in the film. When asked why she never changed it, she expressed her love for the song and respect for the beauty of its arrangement. Harold Arlen created the melody, while E.Y. Harburg wrote the lyrics.

Even so, “Over the Rainbow” has been covered countless times by a wide variety of artists. Here are a few of my favorites, starting with the original…