How To Bring Back Old-School Glamour To The Oscars


That preview of the Oscar red carpet 2014 on E! look familiar? It should. You’ve been looking at it since the Academy Awards moved to their “permanent” home at the Dolby Theatre (previously the Kodak) in 2002. That’s 12 years. And it’s getting dull like Ryan Seacrest. It’s time for a change so dump the Dolby.

Oscar’s had lots of homes over the years, and that kept it fresh.

1 roosevelt

The very first awards ceremony was held at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood in 1929. Glam.

2 menu

The menu that night.

3 biltmore fonda

Then they alternated between The Biltmore and Ambassador Hotels for a few years.  That’s Henry Fonda at the bottom of this shot from 1937 in the “Biltmore Bowl.”

4 march

The young and handsome Frederic March, right, at the Ambassador in 1932. And Helen Hayes! And a guy named Frank Borzage.

5 ambassador hotel 1943

At the Ambassador the ceremony was held in the Fiesta Room and at the world famous Coconut Grove nightclub. In this shot from 1943 during World War II you can see lots of uniformed guests, and behind the podium the number of industry members serving in the Armed Forces. And some coconuts.

6 chinese

The next year, 1944, the Academy moved the ceremony to Grauman’s Chinese to accommodate more servicemen and women.

7 joan

In 1946 Joan Crawford couldn’t make it to Grauman’s to accept her best actress Oscar for Mildred Pierce. “Yes, I’m waiting tables in a downtown restaurant.”

8 shrine

In 1947, Oscar super-sized into the massive Shrine Auditorium. It’s bigger than Radio City.

9 olivia

That year Olivia de Havilland won Best Actress for To Each His Own (never heard of it). That’s Best Actor Ray Milland from 1945’s The Lost Weekend (heard of it) with her.

10 1949

In 1949 the ceremony was a more modest affair. The Academy was forced to move the awards to their own 950-seat theater on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood after major studios withdrew their financial support after accusations of vote buying. That never happens.
11 agnes
Agnes Moorehead was nominated for Johnny Belinda.

12 pantages

From 1950 to 1960 Oscar called the Pantages Theater home. There’s a view from backstage.

14 pantages stage

1952. Isn’t this what the Oscars should look like? Glam!

15 wayne

1953 was the first year the ceremony was televised. That’s John Wayne at the podium.

16 hope

Most-hosting Bob Hope yucks it up with Clark Gable, Cary Grant and David Niven at a rehearsal in 1958.

17 sm

From 1961 to 1968 Oscar hung out on the beach, at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.

18 beatty

That’s much closer to Warren’s place in Malibu. There he is with sister Shirley MacLaine in 1966. Now she’s the other old lady on Downton Abbey.

19 walter matthau shelly winters 1967

Dig that Oscar podium. Walter Matthau and Shelly Winters in 1967.

20 music-center-dorothy-chandler-pavilion

In 1969, that year’s producer and Broadway legend Gower Champion moved Oscar to the sparkling new Dorothy Chandler Pavilion downtown. Fabulous. He had a rock band play while dancers wearing the nominated costumes danced the frug and the jerk. Crazy.

21 ruth gorden color

Ruth Gordon won that year for Rosemary’s Baby.

22 richardburtonliztaylor

In 1970 Liz Taylor arrived at the Chandler with husband Richard Burton wearing the Hope Diamond.


Fans out front in 1980.

24 olivia newton john shrine 1989 oscars

Then from 1988 to 2001 the ceremony alternated between the Chandler and the Shrine every year or so, which was fun. Olivia Newton John and Matt Lattanzi were out front at the Shrine in 1989.

25 61st shrine

Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson presented that year.

26 luculle ball 1989 shrine

And Lucy made her very last public appearance the same night, here with husband Gary Morton.

27 kodak_theater_limo_orange_county_7

Then in 2002 Oscar moved to the Kodak, now Dolby, Theatre and it’s been the same ever since. It might rain on Sunday, so that could mix things up.  Probably not.

28 Hollywood_Bowl_1968

Let’s put next year’s venue on the Oscar ballot. I’m voting for the Hollywood Bowl. Now that would be glam.

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  • SF Native

    Gable looked very handsome even in 1958.

  • Kieran

    I’d settle for bringing back movies that were actually enjoyable and uplifting to watch.

  • scdel

    The diamond necklace that Elizabeth Taylor is wearing is the Taylor-Burton diamond that Richard purchased for one million dollars and is a 69 carat pear shaped stone.

  • SF Native

    I think it is safe to say that the glamour ended when Don Johnson was invited to present. Sorry Don.

  • robho3

    Love all the vintage pics!

  • crowebobby

    I’ve always found Taylor as dull as the proverbial dishwater, but that’s a nice pair of tits.

  • Cam

    The hope diamond was never owned by them.

  • R. Mark Desjardins

    The Oscars need to bring back the over the top musical numbers. Like the camp fun of Aretha Franklin wearing a twig bush hat singing “funny Girl” or Mae West and Rock Hudson cozying up to “Baby Its Cold Outside?”

    I heard that Bette Midler will be signing something Sunday and it might have to do with her upcoming HBO Mae West Bio role.

  • BrokebackBob

    @Kieran: Then make you way as quickly as possible to the Turner Classic Movies Channel (or and escape the trash and mediocrity of today’s major films.

  • BrokebackBob

    @SF Native: You nailed that one. Yechh.

  • BrokebackBob

    @crowebobby: Someday we all might be admiring your tits. Elizabeth Taylor is a consummate actress and fantastic human being, better than the vast majority of us.

  • BrokebackBob

    The gayer the Oscars get the better. More fun. More style. More laughing. More class. I agree that they need to change the venue every so often but they won’t because the Dolby theater has a private fiber-optic connection to another local with better acoustics and equipment for the orchestra and that’s where all the music is piped in from and admittedly, it does sound great if you’ve got great multi-channel sound on your TV.

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