Scandals and drama at the Oscars over the years: From infamous snubs to the Will Smith slap
The Academy Awards ceremony is one of both memorable moments and its fair share of controversies.
The Oscars have been bringing Hollywood together and also pulling them apart since the first ceremony in 1929. From a streaker to announcing wrong names, stage kisses to slaps, the ceremony has seen quite a bit of drama.
Here is a look into some of the most dramatic moments from the Academy Awards through the years.
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- 1936: The first time an Oscar Award was denied
- 1942: “How Green Was My Valley” won best picture
- 1971: George C. Scott rejects his Academy Award
- 1973: Marlon Brando refused his Oscar Award
- 1974: The Oscars witnessed a streaker
- 1985: Sally Field gives that speech (you know the one)
- 1989: Rob Lowe’s cringy performance
- 1992: Jack Palance shows us he can do push-ups
- 1993: Marisa Tomei won best supporting actress in a controversial decision
- 1997: James Cameron: I am the king of the world
- 2000: Angelina Jolie and her brother share a strange moment
- 2003: Adrien Brody kisses Halle Berry on the lips
- 2003: Michael Moore gets political 2003
- 2011: James Franco and Anne Hathaway host the Oscars
- 2012: Sacha Baron Cohen dumps ashes on Ryan Seacrest
- 2017: Envelope mishap between “La La Land” and “Moonlight”
- 2022: Will Smith slaps Chris Rock.
1936: The first time an Oscar Award was denied
In 1936, Dudley Nichols declined his Oscar, making it the first, but not the last, time this would happen. Nichols was a screenwriter who won the award for his movie “The Informer.”
Nichols declined the award with the reasoning that the Academy did not acknowledge the Screen Writers Guild, which Nichols was one of the founders of.
The Oscars have brought many memorable moments since its start in 1929. (STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)
A couple of years later, in 1938, Nichols finally accepted the award after the Screen Writers Guild was certified by the National Labor Relations Board.
1942: “How Green Was My Valley” won best picture
The 1941 film “How Green Was My Valley” won best picture, but it was up against “Citizen Kane,” a movie regarded as one of the best of all time. It is known as one of the biggest Oscar snubs in history.
Regardless of “Citizen Kane’s” status, “How Green Was My Valley” walked away with the biggest award of the night.
“How Green Was My Valley” starred Irish-American actress Maureen O’Hara and British actor Roddy McDowall.
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1969: There was a tie for best actress
In 1969, there was an exact tie in the votes for best actress. The tie was between Barbra Streisand and Katharine Hepburn, who each earned 3,030 votes.
Hepburn was up for the award for her role in “The Lion in Winter,” while Streisand was up for her part as Fanny Brice in “Funny Girl.”
“The Lion in Winter” was set during Christmastime and starred Academy Award nominee Anthony Hopkins. “Funny Girl” is a classic musical drama set in New York City.
In 1969, there was a tie in votes for best actress between Barbra Streisand, left, and Katharine Hepburn. (Getty Images)
1971: George C. Scott rejects his Academy Award
George C. Scott was nominated for best actor for playing Gen. George S. Patton in “Patton.” While he made it clear he would reject a nomination if awarded one, he was still nominated and won.
Scott did not attend the ceremony to accept his award and said that the reasoning behind his refusal was because he did not agree with the creative performances being compared between actors.
1973: Marlon Brando refused his Oscar Award
Marlon Brando also declined an Oscar Award after he won best actor for his role as Vito Corleone in “The Godfather.”
Although he was not present at the ceremony, he did send American actress Sacheen Littlefeather in his place to decline the award. According to History.com, Brando declined the award as he was protesting the portrayal of Native Americans in films.
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Littlefeather explained in her speech that the actor refused to accept his award because of the lack of Native American representation in the film/television industry.
Sacheen Littlefeather, right, declined the best actor award on behalf of Marlon Brando in 1973. (Getty Images )
1974: The Oscars witnessed a streaker
In 1974, a naked man named Robert Opel ran across the stage behind British actor David Niven. Niven went with the moment and calmly made a joke, causing many to believe that the moment was planned.
Niven then went on to introduce Elizabeth Taylor to the stage to present the award for best picture.
1985: Sally Field gives that speech (you know the one)
In 1985, Sally Field delivered the most quoted (and misquoted) Oscars acceptance speech ever. “You like me! Right now, you like me!” she yelled on stage. Yeah, we’re guessing she wishes she could take that one back.
1989: Rob Lowe’s cringy performance
Rob Lowe, now more than three decades sober, opened the 1989 Oscars with an awkward rendition of “Proud Mary” alongside Snow White, who was played by Eileen Bowman.
The cringe worthy ensemble is said to have destroyed the career of its producer, Allan Carr.
1992: Jack Palance shows us he can do push-ups
Jack Palance won best supporting actor and used his time in the spotlight to show he could do a one-armed push-up; in fact, he did several. The actor then continued with a strange, rambling speech.
1993: Marisa Tomei won best supporting actress in a controversial decision
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Marisa Tomei’s Oscar win in 1993 was a bit of a controversial one because of how new she was to the industry at the time of her win. (Steve Starr/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
Marisa Tomei was a supporting actress for her role as Mona Lisa Vita in the 1992 film “My Cousin Vinny.” A lot of people were confused about her win since she took the trophy from well-known and seasoned actresses Joan Plowright, Vanessa Redgrave, Judy Davis and Miranda Richardson.
Rumors quickly circulated that presenter Jack Palance was drunk and read out the wrong name, but that rumor was debunked by a spokesperson for the Academy.
1997: James Cameron: I am the king of the world
In 1997, we all memorized at least a few of Leonardo DiCaprio’s iconic lines from “Titanic,” and so did James Cameron, apparently.
When accepting the award for best director at the Oscars, Cameron exclaimed “I am the king of the world!” It became known as one of the most arrogant Oscar moments of all time.
2000: Angelina Jolie and her brother share a strange moment
Angelina Jolie won the Oscar in 2000 for best supporting actress for “Girl, Interrupted.” When Jolie accepted her award, she said “I’m so in love with my brother right now,” during her speech.
Earlier that night on the red carpet, Jolie and her brother shared a strange kiss on the lips that was captured by photographers.
Angelina Jolie, left, brought her brother, James Haven, as her date to the 72nd Academy Awards. (Reuters)
2003: Adrien Brody kisses Halle Berry on the lips
In 2003, Adrien Brody won the award for best actor for his performance in “The Pianist.” When he went up to accept the award, he stole a kiss on the lips from Halle Berry.
Later in 2017 on an episode of “Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen,” Berry responded to a question about whether the kiss was staged.
“No, that was not planned,” she said. “I knew nothing about it.”
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When Adrien Brody, left, won an Oscar in 2003, he shared a rather passionate on-stage kiss with the presenter of the award, Halle Berry. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images )
2003: Michael Moore gets political 2003
When Michael Moore won an Oscar for “Bowling for Columbine” in 2003, he turned his acceptance speech into a political pitch.
Moore took the opportunity on stage to criticize the Bush administration and was met with conflicting cheers and boos from audience members, who – like viewers at home – just wanted to hear him talk about his movie.
2011: James Franco and Anne Hathaway host the Oscars
James Franco and Anne Hathaway are great actors, but the two did not make such great Oscar hosts in 2011. They were called “boring,” “spectacularly bad” and the like by critics across the board.
The worst moment of the night came when Franco dressed up as Marilyn Monroe, pretty much guaranteeing that he would never again host the awards show.
Anne Hathaway, right, admitted her Oscars hosting gig with James Franco “sucked” as she chatted with Andy Cohen in an interview. (Kevin Winter)
2012: Sacha Baron Cohen dumps ashes on Ryan Seacrest
In 2012, Sacha Baron Cohen turned up at the Academy Awards dressed as his movie character “The Dictator” and dumped gray “ashes” on red carpet host Ryan Seacrest.
The “American Idol” host handled the ambush like a pro and quickly returned to his red carpet interviews.
2017: Envelope mishap between “La La Land” and “Moonlight”
During the 2017 Oscars, the wrong name was announced for the award for best picture during an unforgettable snafu.
Warren Beatty and Fay Dunaway were the presenters of the award. They announced “La La Land” as the winner, but the true winner was “Moonlight.”
The problem was not fixed right away, with the “La La Land” cast and crew getting up on stage and beginning their speeches before the awkward mix-up was caught.
Jordan Horowitz, producer of “La La Land” corrected the mistake by saying “There’s a mistake. ‘Moonlight,’ you guys won best picture.”
Jimmy Kimmel address Horowitz with, “I would like to see you get an Oscar anyway, why can’t we just give out a whole bunch of them?,” to which Horowitz graciously responded, “I’m going to be really proud to hand this to my friends from “Moonlight.”
Beatty then explained what happened, revealing that he and Dunaway had the wrong envelope. They were given the winner of best actress, instead of best picture.
2022: Will Smith slaps Chris Rock
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Will Smith, right, took issue with Chris Rock’s joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, leading him to slap the comedian across the face at the 2022 Oscars. (ROBYN BECK/AFP)
In arguably the most controversial Oscar moment through the years, Will Smith slapped Chris Rock who was hosting the show.
Leading up to the slap, Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. After the joke, Smith quickly moved towards the stage and slapped Rock across the face.
After the incident, Smith was banned from the Oscars and all other academy events for 10 years. He also resigned as a member of the academy.
Ashlyn Messier is a writer for Fox News Digital.
I have been writing professionally for over 20 years and have a deep understanding of the psychological and emotional elements that affect people. I’m an experienced ghostwriter and editor, as well as an award-winning author of five novels.