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CRAIG BROWN: Give that fish an Oscar – and make it snappy!

1 Since 1979, the Oscar statuette has come with a little gold chain attached to its back. When the chain is pulled, the statuette says, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you’, while shedding real tears.

2 The longest-ever acceptance speech was delivered by Desiree Bloom, after she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 1967.

Having thanked 125 members of her family by name, including 29 third cousins by marriage, she proceeded to thank her household staff, her 600 high school contemporaries, 35 teachers, the cast and crew of every film she had ever worked on, and each individual in the theatre that night, including the box-office staff. Her speech lasted for a full 26 hours, 43 minutes, including two intervals.

For nearly 40 years, there was an Academy Award for Best Performance By An Animal. The inaugural prize in 1976 was won by Goldie, (not pictured) the goldfish who played the title role of the shark in the film Jaws

In 2002, a new category of Best Actress At Pretending To Be Delighted When Another Actress Wins was won by Meryl Streep. Her award was greeted by whoops of joy from fellow nominee Glenn Close, pictured, who was then strongly tipped to win the award the following year

In 2002, a new category of Best Actress At Pretending To Be Delighted When Another Actress Wins was won by Meryl Streep. Her award was greeted by whoops of joy from fellow nominee Glenn Close, pictured, who was then strongly tipped to win the award the following year

3 Over the course of her emotional speech, Ms Bloom got through eight bumper packs of extra-strong tissues. Later that year, during a ceremony in which she was unveiled as the face of Kleenex, she made another acceptance speech, lasting just under eight hours. ‘I thought I’d better make it snappy,’ she explained.

4 It has become a tradition that all nominees, presenters and performers at the Academy Awards are offered going-away bags, full of goodies.

These gifts started modestly enough — back in 1934, each recipient received a ballpoint pen, a joke or riddle and a party hat.

But as time has gone on, their value has risen exponentially. This year, nominees in all of the top categories received a five-door family saloon, a designer kitchen, a 62-piece Cartier dining set, a labradoodle puppy, a pump-action shotgun, a five-bedroom holiday home in an exclusive gated development in Hawaii and a signed photograph of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

5 Actors at the annual Academy Awards ceremony regularly take the opportunity to publicise political and environmental causes. In 2017, actress Angelina Jolie called on the world to stop eating baked beans. ‘The baked bean is an endangered species of mammal,’ she declared. ‘To continue to eat it is to support mass genocide!’

6 From time to time, new Oscar categories are initiated by the Academy, but some have failed to catch on and have then been abandoned. In 1993, an Academy Award was offered in the new category Best Movie Based On An Original Murder, with joint nominations for the producer and the perpetrator, who accepted his award by satellite live from his cell in San Quentin prison.

7 In 1988, Terminator star Arnold Schwarzenegger carried off the new award for Best Actor Under Five Foot Two Inches Tall, beating fellow nominees Tom Cruise, Al Pacino, Danny DeVito and Robert Redford.

It later emerged that Schwarzenegger had walked onstage on his knees to accept his Oscar, with the aid of specially adapted shoes and trousers. Since then, the category has been discreetly shelved.

8 In 2002, a new category of Best Actress At Pretending To Be Delighted When Another Actress Wins was won by Meryl Streep. Her award was greeted by whoops of joy from fellow nominee Glenn Close, who was then strongly tipped to win the award the following year.

9 For nearly 40 years, there was an Academy Award for Best Performance By An Animal. The inaugural prize in 1976 was won by Goldie, the goldfish who played the title role of the shark in the film Jaws.

Goldie the Goldfish had auditioned against strong competition from much bigger fish, including a cod, a tuna and a haddock. But in the final round the film’s director was attracted by what he called Goldie’s ‘sheer drive and larger-than-life charisma’.

Reviewers were ecstatic. ‘It was an astounding performance,’ proclaimed the Hollywood Reporter. ‘Fitted with a prosthetic fin and large teeth, this extraordinary young goldfish, barely five inches long, really grew into the part.’

10 But after the global success of Jaws, Goldie’s career took a nosedive. Some blamed this failure on the goldfish’s poor choice of roles. Preview audiences said he looked silly wriggling out of a victim’s stomach in the title role in Aliens (1986), and when he played Colonel Protheroe in Agatha Christie’s Murder At The Vicarage (1987), some complained that he looked daft in a moustache.

11 The category of Best Performance By An Animal was abandoned after the 2016 winner, a bear called Percy, famous for playing the leading role in The Revenant, ate the award’s presenter.


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