The awards ceremony was first televised in 1953 and is now seen live in more than 200 countries. The Oscars is also the oldest entertainment awards ceremony; its equivalents, the Emmy Awards for television, the Tony Awards for theatre, and the Grammy Awards for music and recording, are modeled after the Academy Awards.
The first Academy Awards were presented on 16 May 1929, at a private brunch at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel with an audience of about 270 people. The post Academy Awards party was held at the Mayfair Hotel. The cost of guest tickets for that night's ceremony was $5. Fifteen statuettes were awarded, honoring artists, directors and other personalities of the filmmaking industry of the time for their works during the 1927–1928 periods; the ceremony ran for 15 minutes.
Winners had been announced to media three months earlier; however, that was changed in the second ceremony of the Academy Awards in 1930. Since then and during the first decade, the results were given to newspapers for publication at 11 pm on the night of the awards.This method was used until the Los Angeles Times announced the winners before the ceremony began; as a result, the Academy has since 1941 used a sealed envelope to reveal the name of the winners.
For the first six ceremonies, the eligibility period spanned two calendar years. For example, the 2nd Academy Awards presented on 3 April 1930, recognized films that were released between 1 August 1928 and 31 July 1929. Starting with the 7th Academy Awards, held in 1935, the period of eligibility became the full previous calendar year from 1 January to 31 December.
The first Best Actor awarded was Emil Jannings, for his performances in The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh. He had to return to Europe before the ceremony, so the Academy agreed to give him the prize earlier; this made him the first Academy Award winner in history. The honored professionals were awarded for all the work done in a certain category for the qualifying period; for example, Jannings received the award for two movies in which he starred during that period and Janet Gaynor later won a single Oscar for performances in three films. Since the fourth ceremony, the system changed, and professionals were honored for a specific performance in a single film. As of the 83rd Academy Awards ceremony held in 2011, a total of 2,894 Oscars have been given for 1,853 awards. A total of 302 actors have won Oscars in competitive acting categories or have been awarded Honorary or Juvenile Awards.
The 1939 film Beau Geste is the only movie starring as many as four Academy Award winners for Best Actor or Best Actress in a Leading Role (Gary Cooper, Ray Milland, Susan Hayward, Broderick Crawford) prior to any of the actors receiving the Best Actor Award.
At the 29th ceremony, held on 27 March 1957, the Best Foreign Language Film category was introduced. Until then, foreign-language films were honored with the Special Achievement Award.
Official Name: Academy Award® of Merit, Material: Britannia metal, plated in copper, nickel silver, and 24-karat gold; Height: 131 inches, Weight: 81 pounds, Number of Awards Presented: 2,809, First Recipient: Emil Jannings, named Best Actor for his performances in The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh in 1929, Design: A knight holding a crusader’s sword, standing on a reel of film. The film reel features five spokes, signifying the five original branches of the Academy (actors, directors, producers, technicians and writers), Designer: Cedric Gibbons, chief art director at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Sculptor: Los Angeles artist George Stanley, Manufacturer: R. S. Owens & Company in Chicago, Manufacturing Time: 3–4 weeks for 50 statuettes.