Oscar's first Thalberg award set for auction

Fri Feb 22, 2008 7:15pm EST
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - It takes producing a lot of movies -- and good ones -- to earn one of Oscar's Irving G. Thalberg awards. But if you want to pay up to $200,000 you can buy one.

As the world's top film honors given by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences neared their Sunday start, Los Angeles-based Profiles in History announced plans to auction the first ever Thalberg award given to legendary producer Darryl F. Zanuck in 1938.

Joseph Maddalena, chief executive of Profiles in History, which sells movie and other artifacts, said the award could fetch up between $150,000 and $200,000 because it is so rare.

Unlike the 25 or so Oscars given out annually, the academy picks winners for a Thalberg award only periodically.

"I'm hoping, because of the significance, somebody buys it and donates it back to the academy," Maddalena told Reuters.

The award goes to "creative producers whose bodies of work reflect a consistently high quality of motion picture production," according to the academy's Web site.

Thalberg was one of Hollywood's luminaries whose career straddled the silent era and first talking films. He ran production at the old Universal Film Manufacturing Co. at age 20. A few years later he went to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's film unit to work for Louis B. Mayer. He died in 1936 at age 37.

Zanuck, a legend in Hollywood, also was a top producer and studio executive whose career spanned five decades. It started in the 1920's and included dramas like "How Green Was My Valley" and "The Grapes of Wrath." In his life, he earned three Thalberg awards.   Continued...