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10 Interesting Academy Award Winners

Saint Cad . . . Comments

There are a lot of Academy Award trivia lists and most of them deal with “The first …” or “The only …”. This list has some of those, and a few you probably already knew, but I picked these because they either had an interesting story about the win or winner. Basically, I hope each entry makes you say, “I didn’t know that.” If you have other interesting Oscar stories, tell us about them in the comments.


George Bernard Shaw
Two Top Awards

Won: Writing (Screenplay) 1938 for Pygmalion

It is, indeed, interesting to achieve the top honor in two widely disparate fields. As of now, only one person has won an Academy Award and a Nobel Prize, George Bernard Shaw (he became a literature laureate in 1925). Before you flood the comments with how I’m wrong, I would advise you to read the rest of this list.


Dudley Nichols
First Refusal

Won: Writing (Screenplay) 1935 for The Informer

Famously, Marlon Brando sent Sacheen Littlefeather to refuse his Oscar for The Godfather, in protest of the treatment of Native Americans, and George C. Scott refused his for Patton since he did not like the idea of competing with other actors calling it a meat-parade. However, the first time a person refused the highest cinematic honor was when Dudley Nichols refused to accept his Academy Award, due to the treatment of the writer’s guild. Later, he rescinded his refusal and accepted the Oscar, sometime before 1949.


Winners that Didn’t Win

Pierre Boulle (First Faked Winner): Writing (adapted) 1957, for The Bridge on the River Kwai.
Nathan E. Douglas (First Pseudonym to Win): Writing (original) 1958, for The Defiant One, Writing (adapted) 1960, for Inherit the Wind

One often assumes that the winner of the Academy Award actually exists. However, during the Blacklist Era in Hollywood, many had to hide their work behind other credits, in order to perform their craft.

Peter Boulle actually exists, and is a French writer that is said not to write English, although he did write “The Bridge Over the River Kwai”. His name was used by Michael Wilson and Carl Foreman as an open secret when they adapted his book. When it was revealed, after the blacklists, Peter Boulle refused to return the Oscar but Wilson and Foreman got theirs in 1984.

Nathan E. Douglas was the name used by Nedrick Young during the blacklist era and, under that name, he won two Academy Awards. In 1993, his real name was restored to the nominee and awards list and his son received his Oscars.

It’s a pity Donald Kaufman didn’t win for his writing of Adaptation. He was the first nominee to never exist in any form.


Sidney Howard
First Posthumous Winner

Won: Writing (screenplay) 1939 for Gone With the Wind

This Oscar was Howard’s third but, unfortunately, he never got to accept it. He died in a bizarre gardening accident (must . . . resist . . . Spinal Tap . . . joke) when his tractor crushed him. Incidentally, Howard is also a Pulitzer winner, but it will take more research (or someone in comments) to see if he was the first to win both awards. I suspect he was, considering he won his first Oscar in the award’s fifth year.


Luise Rainer
First Double Winner

Won: Best Actress 1936, for The Great Ziegfield, Winner Best Actress 1937, for The Good Earth

Luise Rainer was the first back-to-back winner in Oscar history, in only her second and third English-speaking films, beating out the notable performances of Janet Gaynor, in A Star is Born, and Greta Garbo, in Camille, to win, in 1937. In fact, she was such an underdog that year, she did not even attend the awards presentation.

Since her career went downhill after winning, mostly due to her own poor decisions, the superstition started about the Oscar Jinx (ask Cuba Gooding about that). So poorly was she though of late in her career that, according, to legend, when Raymond Chandler was stressing over the ceremony where his Double Indemnity was nominated, his wife told him the award was no big deal since “After all, Luise Rainer won it twice.”


Only Winners

Sunrise: Best Picture (most artistic quality of production) 1927/8
Roy Pomeroy: Best Engineering Effects 1927/8 for Wings
Joseph Farnham: Best Title Writing 1927/8 (no specific film)

How would you like to be the only person to have won a certain award? These three are the only winners in their categories. Originally there were two Best Picture awards. The one that Wings won that year was Best Picture (outstanding production), and it is that award that the Academy decided was the one that evolved into today’s Best Picture award. The award for Engineering Effects was given to Wings, for the air cinematography and beat out Nugent Slaughter, for The Jazz Singer (but Warner Brothers did win a special award for it). The Jazz Singer would also make the Best Title Writing (the blurbs in silent movies to say what is going on) obsolete by the next year. The nominee for best title writing Gerald Duffy (The Private Life of Helen of Troy) could have been #11 on this list, but he lost and became merely the first posthumous nominee.

There are other awards that appear to be one-time only awards, such as, at the fourth Oscar ceremony, the awards for art direction and sound recording. These sort of awards just reflect the name changes throughout the history of the Oscar, and are part of the legacy of continuing awards. These three categories are the only ones to officially have only one winner.


Martin Scorsese

Three 6 Mafia: Best Song (original) 2005 for “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp”
Martin Scorsese: Best Director 2006 for The Departed

Martin Scorsese was in that pantheon of highly respected and brilliant purveyors of their cinematic craft that receive numerous nominations (seven of them for writing and directing between 1980 and 2004) but never win. When Three 6 Mafia won, for Best Original Song, host Jon Stewart simply said, “Three 6 Mafia, one Oscar. Martin Scorsese, no Oscars.” and let the audience laugh at that.
Martin Scorsese won the next year.



Won: Best Short Subject (cartoon) 1940, for The Milky Way

This was the thirteenth time the award had been given, but only the first time Disney wasn’t the winner. In fact, Disney was not even nominated (did they put one out that year?) Disney won the next two awards, then M.G.M. the next four, and then, in the 20th year of the award, the hegemony was broken by Warner Brothers and “Tweety Pie”, the first cartoon featuring Sylvester and Tweety.


Davis Guggenheim
Who doesn’t have a Nobel Prize but he does have an Oscar

Won: Best Documentary (feature) 2006, for An Inconvenient Truth

Yes, he wrote the book.
Yes, he narrated the film.
Yes, he took the statuette from the presenter.
Yes, he gave the acceptance speech everyone remembers.
No, he did not win the Oscar.

The winner of the Academy Award for “An Inconvenient Truth” was the producer/director Davis Guggenheim, not Albert Gore, Jnr.


Orson Wells and Charlie Chaplin

Orson Wells : 1941 Best Screenplay (original) 1941, for Citizen Kane
Charlie Chaplin: Best Original Dramatic Score 1972, for Limelight

It is always pointed out how some movie geniuses are never recognized for their work, and are never given Oscars, or, at best, they get honorary Oscars. Two of the most common examples are Orson Wells and Charlie Chaplin. Unfortunately, both of them do have Oscars.

Charlie Chaplin was given an honorary Oscar, at the first Academy Award dinner, for The Circus. Some interpret the award as showing that his work was so far superior that it would be a one-person night if it was allowed to compete, while others, accurately, point out that it was not, in fact, an earned award. I favor the former, considering the Academy sent Chaplin a letter stating
“The Academy Board of Judges on merit awards for individual achievements in motion picture arts during the year ending August 1, 1928, unanimously decided that your name should be removed from the competitive classes, and that a special first award be conferred upon you for writing, acting, directing and producing The Circus. The collective accomplishments thus displayed place you in a class by yourself.”

The point was made moot in 1972, when he won for Best Original Score, for Limelight, that, due to the rules (since changed) made it eligible 20 years after it was first released. At the time, eligibility was based on the first time a movie was released in Los Angeles, and Chaplin kept the movie out of the L.A. market until 1972.

With Orson Wells, the Oscar is a little more straightforward. While it is true that he never won as a director or actor, he did win for his screenplay for Citizen Kane, sharing the award with Herman J. Mankiewitz.

  • sol badguy

    Holy sheet I could be an ass and just say first but I wont

    • Tron

      What is a 'holy sheet', I also want one can you tell me from where to purchase it?

      • Matt C

        Holy sheet shop

        • witcharachne

          There is actually a manchester chain in Australia called Holy Sheet. Don't know if it's out in the rest of the world.

    • Jay


  • timothyjames

    This is the first Oscar list I have found really interesting. The format was a little confusing though, but Listversers are a smart people (generally), so I don't think that will be too much of an issue. Good on ya, Saint Cad. I like your name, by the way.

    • Stefan

      haha that is true.
      i skipped a couple of the entries because i had no idea as to what was going on!

  • Deathmasetertx

    Pretty interesting but not as the last list.

    • oliveralbq

      yeah, i suppose you may have a point, but i really don't think this is going to be the last list.

      • fairtwiggy

        Oliver haha you're such a smart ass. I love it.

  • Stephen

    A fine list, sonny, a fine list.

    When's the new site design going to be up?

  • Ninja_Wallaby

    I loved the Spinal Tap reference.

  • killborten


  • Stefan

    the name? i love it
    the comment? pathetic

    if you'r going to be stupid, at least TRY to be funny

  • hermy304

    Basically skimmed

  • I love Wells as much as anyone and stand in awe of his precocious genius in several areas — but I thinks it's well established that "Kane" was written pretty much entirely by Mankiewicz (with some clerical help from John Houseman).

  • MTJ

    Saint Cad, why are you talking so much? Just let the damn list speak for itself and cut out all the stupid commentary.

  • KabirBhai

    Why cant we have more of Charlie Chaplin and Orson Wells these days??? Why dont the movies made in the last 15-20 years make me think beyond half an hour of their ending.. Once a month a good movie comes up based of some sort of suffering of some person/community which makes me sad and thoughtful but never has a movie made me ponder for days and days… Maybe i am too insensitive or maybe we need better movies…

    But a great list. This list made me happy…

    • Arsnl

      Well im not so pesimistic as you are. The brits managed to make some good movies recently (not older that 25 years) nil by mouth, the war zone, made in britain. I think we need to understand that cinema goes beyond hollywood.

  • Mark Goddard

    And off on a tangent I go. Here in Sydney we have a chain of bedding stores named Holy Sheet. And now, back to the news.

  • br0ck


    • KabirBhai

      U R Not the Real Br0ck……
      He has an account…
      Try something new…
      See the comment from the 'real'; br0ck…
      Thats called Style…

      • fairtwiggy


    • Tron

      Yeah use your own username if you have to make assholicious comments

      • fairtwiggy

        Agreed! Its getting old.

  • randomizer

    Loved the list. Martin Scorsese’s face was something to see that night when he didn’t win for The Avaitor. You could see just by his expressions that he giving the jury the finger. At least he didn’t walkout (cue Eddie Murphy). Hey that would be a great list Top 10 Academy Awards Walkouts too bad i don’t have time to write it oh well. Back to work.

  • Blubinx

    A very interesting topic, but the list is very poorly written and assumes too much old school cinema knowledge of the reader.

  • br0ck

    once again with those 100 year old movies can you understand that nobody cares about them ?

    • billy

      See, fakeBr0ck, it's not needed! The real Br0ck comes along and displays his staggering lack of intellect once again!

  • bansey

    It still pisses me off to this day that Scorcese never won for one film in particular. Instead he was just given it for his work as a whole. I mean they say it was for the departed, but they needed something. It's like Saving Private Ryan not winning best picture. Incredible.

  • Skata

    Love Bridge On The River Kwai. Two anecdotes:
    Words to the "Colonel Bogey March"
    Hitler has only got one ball,
    Goering has two, but very small,
    Himmler is somewhat similar,
    And poor Goebbels has no balls at all.

    And (imagine a Royal Army Drill Instructor) Sir Alec Guinness' voice coach:
    " MIS-TAH GUINNESS. There is no R-R-R-R-R in VANILLA!"

    Explanatory note: It drives me batshit when I hear some Eastside Cockney Trash refer to Atlanta as:

  • middle

    this is so GAY!

    • billy

      Why? What are you doing?

  • Jay

    Nice list. Is Engineering Effects the same cateogry that later was known as Special Effects or are they different?

  • Arsnl


  • Sly

    Am I the only one who clicked this list expecting something interesting but was left disappointed, because the list was confusing as hell????

  • oouchan

    I liked the idea for the list, but not sure about the content… felt a bit rushed.
    As a side note, I've always enjoyed anything with Orson Wells. I liked his voice too. :)

  • Jay

    I've tried that method of deciding what's for dinner. Stupid cat was always getting in the way. Tasty, though.

    • jroache

      Now this comment really needs an explanation. Though my cat is also tasty, but i enjoy him being around, so i'm eating him only a little at a time.

      • oliveralbq

        @jroache: ""Though my cat is also tasty, but i enjoy him being around, so i'm eating him only a little at a time.

        –eating cats slowly pisses cats off.

      • oliveralbq

        @jroache: "Now this comment really needs an explanation. "

        —ok man — i've got this one. jay was replying to a message i hadn't left yet. he's one of those wizard things, with esp and a book of shadows and other charmed words. and that was my mobile i was on — sprint comes with the idea stealing ghosts, implimanted solely to confuse people.
        —put into context, it makes fine sense. — you gotta loook down then up then down then up —

        @oliveralbq-mobile: "someone put post-it notes … … … up on their well, and threw darts at em. —- ……which is how i decide what's for dinner sometimes"

        @Jay: "I've tried that method of deciding what's for dinner. Stupid cat was always getting in the way. Tasty, though. "

        why is his cat walking around on the wall? anybody's guess. suicidal? dont know. but if its tasty i *really* think he should have told us what breed he had……………for dinner.

        • Jay

          Thanks, oliver. For what it's worth, I believe I actually posted it to the right place as I usually look things over pretty closely before I submit a comment. Maybe the program was so overwhelmed by my inherent awesomeness… Or maybe it was just screwing me around.

          Incidentally, I just looked this post over and discovered I'd put an extra "e" on "the." The program didn't catch the typo, so it must believe that "thee" is an acceptable word. What freaking century did this spell-check program come from, anyway?

  • Jay

    Moonbeam, #5. Farnham and Duffy were both nominated for 27/28, but Duffy died before the nominations were announced.

    #8: Kaufman was a made-up name. Before, when someone wrote something and didn't want their name on it, they used the name of another writer so there'd be someone to accept any awards that were won.

    #10 refers to the Al Gore entry and possibly to the Sidney Howard entry. It's confusing.

    Apology for typos: My print is showing up in suiper-light grey and I can't see very well what the heck I'm tyhping.

    • Moonbeam

      Jay, thanks for clearing up some of the omissions. I hate being "THAT PERSON" but I see I'm not the only one who wasn't clear on some of the information.

  • MindlessM

    One glaring omission on this list — Albert Lamorisse, winner in 1957 for Best Original Screenplay, "The Red Balloon," a movie with almost no dialogue and yet it remains one of the few children's classics that has withstood the test of time. IMDB gives it a rating of 8.1 out of 10.

    • Jay

      Hard to see how there could be an omission since the list said 10 entries and there were 10. When there are no comparatives or superlatives in the title, like "Best" or "Most Intereting" the bar is set about as low as it can go. Hehehe. And that's the way we like it.

      Quibbles aside, it's wonderful to see someone who loves any of the old movies, too many of which are sadly forgotten.

  • oliveralbq-mobile

    this was a weird ass list. i dont know about confusing, so much —– but it was kinda set up like someone put post-it notes with 93 arbitrary oscar facts up on their well, and threw darts at em. —- ……which is how i decide what’s for dinner sometimes, so i’m cool with it. interesting write-up…………….

  • MindlessM

    Or how about Peter Shaffer who won an Oscar in 1985 for his screenplay adaptation of his own stage play, Amadeus, for which he won the 1981 Tony Award for Best Play.

  • Sam Hall

    Seriously are some of you people stuck up your own asses?
    That list was actually quite interesting, better then some of the tripe that has been posted here recently. I liked that finally GBS was included in an Oscar list. Can those who found it confusing please do 2 things?

    1. post links to your lists so we can see how un-confusing they are,
    2. stop complaining about such trivial things when there was an even bigger list crime committed here on the site.

    Remember the owner of this site stole someone else work word for word (breaking their own rules in the process) and then tried to push the blame onto the original list maker. But still all you people still come back here and support him. (and yes I realise the Irony in that statement no need to be a smart ass about pointing it out)

    You guys are hypocrites. (again Irony noted)

    • Tron

      Sorry but that was quite a stupid comment, I dunno what dyu wanna point out…

      • billy

        Does irony always have to be spelt with a capital I?

    • Jay

      Your post was more confusing than the list. I think you blew my mind. Thanks, Sam.

  • bassbait

    I say Kubrick was robbed of his oscars:

    "Although he was nominated for an Academy Award as a screenwriter and director on several occasions, his only personal win was for the special effects in 2001: A Space Odyssey."

    Of course 2001 would win, there's no competition! But why didn't it win for best director? Why did it not win best picture? And what about Dr. Strangelove? He got robbed, I say!

    • Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES!
      Totally true! It's terrible how the greatest get snubbed. The Oscars piss me off.

  • undaunted warrior 1

    Not the best list we have had

    • wattadoooosh

      I expect every list to be better than the last so I'll never be disappointed.

      • undaunted warrior 1

        Well said my sweetheart.

  • wattadooooosh

    Aren't YOU clever with the corrections?

  • Winston returns

    Too American

  • Woyzeck


    • thisguy


  • Top Kill

    Nice list. Informative.

  • I just hate when someone makes a list, but writes to little on each entry.
    It makes me lose interest in reading.

  • ragandrag

    The Oscars should not be taken seriously. It's an overblown awards ceremony and it should not determine the best film. The awards are very politically motivated.

    Just a few examples:
    1. Sean Penn on Milk (a pro-gay marriage film. I do agree on gay marriage, fyi).
    2. Slumdog Millionair (obviously)
    3. Crash (another obvious example)

    • billy

      Is 'Crash' more political than 'Brokeback Mountain', 'Munich' or 'Good Night and Good Luck'? The reason 'Crash' appeared to have won is because it was seen as an actor's film, and they make up a significant block of the voting.

      Is 'Slumdog Millionaire' really political? It shows India to be a poverty-stricken, corrupt place in which hope can survive. No agenda being pushed there, I believe. It's not how Danny Boyle works.

      Did Sean Penn not deserve his Oscar over Frank Langella, Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins or Mickey Rourke? It was a close contest between him and Rourke as both were great performances.

  • General Tits Von Chodehoffen

    Nice list! Al Gore…

  • kizzler

    Just a nice sunday list. i like a list which i can reed while hung-over withouth thinking too much.

  • Jay

    I would love for people to quit challenging those who disagree with the lists to make their own lists. That's as moronic now as it always has been. If we are to only allow critical comment from those who have actually created Listverse lists, this will be a small forum with few comments. And then we will have to extend this to other areas so that only murderers can be on the jury at murder trials,only those who've held elected office can criticize the government, only those with degrees in Advanced Science can criticize astronomical theories, and only those with brains made of pudding can criticize br0ck.

  • ryan

    Al Gore is also a Nobel Prize + Academy Award winner, contrary to claim made in #10.

    • Jay

      A contradictory claim? To whom was that Oscar actually presented? Quick, somebody look that up! Don't leave me in suspenders!

      • Jay

        In spite of smear campaigns by the likes of Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, Al Gore won his first Oscar at the Academy Awards In Los Angeles, in the category of "Best Documentary."
        The award was presented by Jerry Seinfeld and was awarded to Gore for An Inconvenient Truth.

        And that is straight from the Internet so you can believe it!

        • Saint Cad

          Look up the official Oscar site. Davis Guggenheim won, not Al Gore.

          • Jay

            Probably. But I bet I could find at least 50 quotes in a short while that say Gore won. In fact, it said so on one of the evening news shows here. Wouldn't you think something like this would spark a lot of comments? No one seems to much care…

          • Saint Cad

            And I saw it in Ripley's but that doesn't make it true. Let's see what the Academy has to say.

            Scroll down to "Documentary (Feature)"

            Whose name is listed as the winner?
            or is the Academy wrong about who it gave the award to but 50 random people on the internet are right?

  • Schiesl

    My favorite one is Barry Fitzgarald in "Going my way" was nominated for Best Actor, and Best Supporting actor for playing the exact same role….he won best supporting actor, but lost in the Best Actor category

  • iteezy

    This is the best list. my fav is Orson Wells and Charlie Chaplin

  • JAD

    Actually I was wrong, Ruehl won Best Actress for that movie, even though she is in at least 2/3 of the movie. Another weird one is Beatrice Straight who won the same award for "Network" in which she has about 8 minutes of screen time. She basically won for her single monologue in the film.

  • Saint Cad

    Fair enough on the rushed comments. I put it together rather hurridly before the last Academy Awards (it's been in the queue a while). The comment to number 10 was a pre-emptive strike against "But Al Gore has a Nobel Prize and an Academy Award". As #2 points out, no he doesn't even though almost everyone thinks he does, especially as he gave the speech that night while holding the Oscar.

  • freckledsmile99

    Thank you for this list! I am a huge movie fan and did not a lot of these items.

  • flip

    great list, but… why can't we talk about dalton trumbo and robert rich's oscar for "the brave one"?

    • Jay

      We can. In fact, why don't you? Trumbo wrote "Johnny Got His Gun," which is a strange, powerful work. I'd like to know more about him and why he was blacklisted.

  • Rin Tin Tin

    didn't The Three Stooges win an oscar for best short one year?that must have been a pretty good exceptance speech!

  • Why do this article reminds me of another equivalent one I just read the gym?

  • The only inconvenient truth is that Gore’s movie is utter nonsense.

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  • Angie1011

    This list sucks we need more murders to read about i have read all of them sadly and i am almost all out of list to read im a listverse feind i go on everyday please make more death lists i know it sounds bad but they are so darn interesting.

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    Heya i am for the first time here. I came across this board and I find It really helpful & it helped me out a lot. I am hoping to offer something back and aid others such as you aided me.

  • Name

    How about Harold Russell, the first non-actor to win an award? He won Best Supporting Actor in 1946 for The Best Years of Our Lives, and he had no hands.

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