Little Bits of History

36th Academy Awards

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 13, 2015
Original movie poster for Lilies of the Field*

Original movie poster for Lilies of the Field*

April 13, 1964: The 36th Academy Awards ceremony is held. Jack Lemmon hosted the event held at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica, California. The Best Picture of the year was Tom Jones which tied with Cleopatra for the most awards received (4). The most nominations (10) went to Tom Jones which also gathered three Best Supporting Actress nominations, the most for any one film. Patricia Neal won Best Actress even though her role was limited and a supporting one in the film, Hud. Margaret Rutherford set a record (since broken) as the oldest recipient of Best Supporting Actress at the age of 71. It was the first time a black actor won Best Actor when Sidney Poitier won for his role in Lilies of the Field.

Poitier was born in Miami, Florida to Bahamian farmers who came to the US to sell their produce. He was born two months early and was not expected to survive. He was taken back to the Bahamas, then a British colony, and grew up on Cat Island. They lived there until Sidney was ten and then moved to Nassau. At the age of 15, he was sent to live with his brothers in Miami. Two years later, he moved to New York City and held a series of positions as a dishwasher. A Jewish waiter sat with him every night for several weeks and taught him how to read. Poitier then joined the US Army and after his tour, went back to dishwashing until he landed a successful audition with the American Negro Theatre.

He ran into some trouble with them since he was tone deaf and simply could not sing, as was expected. He finally landed a role in Lysistrata on Broadway. In 1950 he had to choose between the stage and the movies and chose the latter. His breakout role came in Blackboard Jungle (1955). He was the first African-American male to be nominated for an Oscar for The Defiant Ones (1958) and the first to receive Best Actor on this date. It wasn’t all movies for him and he appeared in the first Broadway production of A Raisin in the Sun (1951) and starred in the film version ten years later. During his years of stardom, he was concerned with being typecast in an over-idealized version of African-American males. His characters were not permitted to have flaws or sexuality. He wanted more varied roles, but felt it necessary to project a good example to offset previous stereotypes.

Acting has not been his only career. He also directed several different movies, the most successful being Stir Crazy with Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor. He was appointed Ambassador of the Bahamas to Japan in 1997 and remained so for ten years. He was also the Ambassador of the Bahamas to UNESCO from 2002 to 2007. He has been married twice and has six daughters as well as six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He hold dual citizenship for the US and the Bahamas. In 1999, the American Film institute named Poitier as the 22nd on a list of the top 25 Greatest Male Stars of All Time.

One of the things I love about acting is that it reveals a certain something about yourself, but it doesn’t reveal your own personal story. – Jessica Lange

Acting is the most minor of gifts and not a very high-class way to earn a living. After all, Shirley Temple could do it at age four. – Katharine Hepburn

A lot of what acting is is paying attention. – Robert Redford

Well, I think one of the main things that you have to think about when acting in the movies is to try not to make the acting show. – Jimmy Stewart

Also on this day: Houston We Have a Problem – In 1970, there is an explosion on the Apollo 13 lunar mission.
Freedom of Religion – In 1829, Britain granted Roman Catholics to practice their religion.
Hallelujah! – In 1742, Handel’s Messiah debuted.
What Were They Thinking? – In 1953, MK-ULTRA was launched by Allen Dulles.
Hospital for Special Surgery – In 1863, the orthopedic hospital opened.

* “Original movie poster for the film Lilies of the Field” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –