Jodie Foster and the art of dropping acceptance-speech bombs

Thu Jan 17, 2013 12:36pm EST
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By Anna Pickard

(Reuters) - As Jodie Foster proved at the Golden Globes on January 13, it's not the endless, tearful lists of boring thank-yous to producers, agents, directors and God that make headlines, it's those unexpected revelations, demonstrations and surprises. Here are a few of the bomb-dropping acceptance speeches that have entered into the annals of award season.

* "She makes all things possible." - Helen Reddy, 1973 Grammy Awards, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance

"I Am Woman" won Helen Reddy a Grammy in 1973. And no one had any argument with that: She was wearing a dress and everything. It was her mention of God as "She" that was controversial. People were fine with Helen being Woman. That she might out the Almighty as being one, too, was less popular.

* "He … very regretfully cannot accept." - Sacheen Littlefeather for Marlon Brando, 1973 Academy Awards, Best Actor

It wasn't so much something he said as it was sending someone else to say something. When Marlon Brando sent Sacheen Littlefeather to reject his Oscar for "The Godfather" on his behalf - armed with a 15-page speech about why he was refusing his award, as the actor found the giving out of awards inappropriate "until the condition of the American Indian is drastically altered" - she managed to get in only 45 seconds before being escorted off the stage. The Academy has been wary of third-party statuette acceptance ever since.

* "Zionist hoodlums." - Vanessa Redgrave, 1978 Academy Awards, Best Supporting Actress

By the time Vanessa Redgrave picked up her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for "Julia," there had already been protest at her nomination, given that she had funded a documentary on Palestine the same year. Her speech was impassioned and political, thanking the Academy for standing firm against a "small bunch of Zionist hoodlums" who were at that moment burning an effigy of her outside the theater. Screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky then took the opportunity of his award presentation (for Best Screenplay) to decry all political speeches (forgetting to actually read out the nominees), leading the winner of that award to decry those who would deny speechmakers free speech. Phew. The '70s, eh?

* "Any way they can." - Oliver Stone, 1979 Golden Globe Awards, Best Screenplay   Continued...

Actress Jodie Foster speaks as she accepts the Cecil B. Demille Award, on stage on at the Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California on January 13, 2013, in this picture provided by NBC. REUTERS/Paul Drinkwater/NBC/Handout