Oscar winner mistakes?

I heard that in 1993, Marisa Tomei received an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress–although she wasn’t the winner named on the card. Perhaps the presenter suffered a moment of brain fade and called out the wrong name, but Academy Award rules stipulate that once a winner’s name is announced, there is no going back. (With supposedly 1 billion people watching, and an extremely jubilant or tearful reaction from the “winner”, it would be impossible to correct the mistake–the supposed reason for the rule.)

Did this really happen in Marisa Tomei’s case? Has it ever happened in Oscar history?

(I’ve been wondering about the truth ever since my university held a foreign language speech contest and the presenter accidently gave the grand prize–a trip abroad–to the person who actually scored third. Although all the judges immediately recognized the goof, the “winner” was so ecstatic as she bounded up to the stage to get her prize, nobody had the guts to tell her to sit back down and accept a trophy instead, so she inadvertently became the winner. Now, how about for an Oscar?)

No, and no.

http://www.snopes.com/movies/actors/tomei.htm

Whoops, almost forgot. Welcome to the SDMB, akitaking!

No such rule exists. Price/Waterhouse has gone on record to say that if there were ever any mistake in the announcement, their representatives (who are standing in the wings with the briefcase full of envelopes) would intervene. They have even been known, in the rare case of a tie, to warn the presenter right before going on stage to make sure to read everything in the envelope, just to be on the safe side.

And yes, welcome. :slight_smile:

The closest to this at the Oscars was in 1934. Will Rogers announced the winner for best director by saying, “Come and get it, Frank.” Frank Capra bounded up to the stage, only to realize that Rogers was looking at Frank Lloyd.

Something similar occured at the Nebula Awards (for science fiction) in 1970. Isaac Asimov announced the winner for short story was Gene Wolfe’s “The Island of Dr. Death and Other Stories.” As Wolfe approached the podium, someone whispered something to Asimov, who turned white and announced that Wolfe hadn’t won, but had finished second to “no award.” At the party afterward, someone suggested to Wolfe that to win the award, all he had to do was write a story “The Death of Dr. Island.” Wolfe did, and won (he later also wrote “The Doctor of Death Island” and “The Death of the Island Doctor”).

akitaking writes:

> (I’ve been wondering about the truth ever since my
> university held a foreign language speech contest and the
> presenter accidently gave the grand prize–a trip abroad–
> to the person who actually scored third. Although all the
> judges immediately recognized the goof, the “winner” was
> so ecstatic as she bounded up to the stage to get her
> prize, nobody had the guts to tell her to sit back down
> and accept a trophy instead, so she inadvertently became
> the winner. Now, how about for an Oscar?)

Are you serious? Is this just a story you’ve heard, or do you actually know for sure that the judges gave a trip to somebody who really came in third but was mistakenly announced as being the winner? It’s hard to believe that the judges would be that stupid or that gutless. Where’s this university? I want to make sure to avoid it.

In 1993, four of the nominees for Best Supporting Actress were distinguished actresses (mostly British) who’d appeared in prestigious, critically acclaimed art-house films. As I recall, most people figured Dame Joan Plowright (Sir Laurence Olivier’s widow) would win the award for “Enchanted April,” but Vanessa Redgrave and Judy Davis were considered strong contenders as well.

Given the quality and prestige of the competition, most people didn’t pay much attention to the 5th nominess- Marisa Tomei, of the lowbrow comedy “My Cousin Vinny.” So, when Marisa actually won, a LOT of people were astonished.

But there’s more. Each year, Best SUpporting Actress is presented by the man who won Best Supporting Actor the year before. In this case, the presenter was Jack Palance, who’d won for “City Slickers.” Well, Jack Palance is… an “eccentric” guy! Remember his weird behavior when receiving his OScar? How he mumbled, bragged that he crapped bigger than Billy Crystal, and began doing one-handed push-ups on stage?

Well, since people already had reason to think Jack Palance was a little nutso, and since he gave the prize to an actress NOBODY expected to win, rumors abounded that Palance was demented, and have given the award to the wrong person!

But while that would be a great story, it’s not true. Price-Waterhouse would have corrected the error, IF there had been an error. In reality, Marisa Tomei won for two basic reasons:

  1. Serious, highbrow voters split their votes among Plowright and Redgrave, allowing a dark horse to sneak in.

  2. Though everybody praises movies like “Howard’s End” and “Enchanted April,” they actually go to SEE movies like “My Cousin Vinny!” The voters in this case cast their ballots for the funny girl in the silly little comedy they’d actually SEEN, rather than the brilliant actresses in the prestigious films they’d HEARD were great.

I would point out that Marisa Tomei really was great in “My Cousin Vinny.” She elevated the movie, which would not have worked as well as it did without her performance.

She’s actually a hell of an actress; see her performances not only in “My Cousin Vinny” but also in “The Perez Family.”

This reminds me of an old episode of the Daily Show. The showed a clip of the Paraguayan (or some small country south of here) equivalent of the Emmy’s in which a presenter announced that her nominated friend was the winner of the award contrary to the contents of the envelope. I don’t remember exactly how it ended, but the real winner definitely ended up with the statue, or goat, or whatever the hell they give away in whatever country the award show was in. I’ll try a net search to find more info.

In reply to Wendell Wagner regarding my story:

> (I’ve been wondering about the truth ever since my
> university held a foreign language speech contest and the
> presenter accidently gave the grand prize–a trip abroad–
> to the person who actually scored third. Although all the
> judges immediately recognized the goof, the “winner” was
> so ecstatic as she bounded up to the stage to get her
> prize, nobody had the guts to tell her to sit back down
> and accept a trophy instead, so she inadvertently became
> the winner. Now, how about for an Oscar?)
I heard this unfortunate story from one of the judges, but I wasn’t there to witness it firsthand, as I had graduated two years earlier.

Checking with her memory of the event, it did happen as I recounted, with one additional tidbit–the organizer of the event decided on the spot to round up the cash to ALSO give a trip abroad to the real winner, and called it a tie rather than embarrass the 3rd place finisher! (There might be a different cultural perspective behind this, as the speech contest took place at an American university satellite campus in Japan.)

As a finale to the story, this campus came to an untimely demise, despite having had a very good language program. A handful of US universities established campuses in Japan during the 80’s, but all met with various accreditation problems, an enormous economic downturn, poor enrollment, etc., and I believe all have been closed.

Yeah I remember that!

The person who won, had this film or book that had actually already won another award of some kind, the same way. Later he was on Letterman or one of those shows, talking about it. Had this very strong accent, and it was definitely South America, or possibly Europe, that he was from.

I think it was a guy - I didn’t actually see it myself but my mother was telling me about it, because a woman she works with saw it.

And it really happened.

So it just goes to prove our point. If it could happen there, why couldn’t it happen on the Oscars? And why are so many people trying to cover up that it did happen?

And who is this Cecil Adams that people are always talking about? And what has he got to teach me?
Red-um-thingy.

[sub]jes’ kiddin’ ya Lance baby![/sub]

I say, old chap!

Firstly we British were kind enough to give you your language (no, it was our pleasure, really). But doesn’t that mean you have an accent*?

Secondly, Europe is a big place, with many languages (likea da Italian, or ze French, non?).

Unless it was Brazil (=Portugal), I expect you mean a Spanish accent.

*and the American ones are quite nice!

glee writes:

> Firstly we British were kind enough to give you your
> language (no, it was our pleasure, really). But doesn’t
> that mean you have an accent*?
>
> *and the American ones are quite nice!

But that’s no consolation to Redboss, since he’s Australian.