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(Reuters) - The 84th Oscar ceremony, hosted for the ninth time by Billy Crystal, will be televised on Sunday from Hollywood, just steps from the historic Grauman's Chinese Theatre. The awards are given out by the Beverly Hills-based Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Here is a look at the Oscars:
- When the first Academy Awards were handed out on May 16, 1929, movies had just begun to talk. The first ceremony took place in the Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.
- The best actress and actor awards went to Janet Gaynor for her performances in "Sunrise" and "Seventh Heaven," both from 1927, and "Street Angel" from 1928, and to Emil Jannings for "The Last Command" and "The Way of All Flesh."
- The Warner Bros. film "The Jazz Singer" was honored with a special award as the "pioneering outstanding talking picture, which has revolutionized the industry." The Academy had ruled it was ineligible for competition for best picture because it was thought it would be unfair to let sound films compete with silents.
- 1939 was one of the most celebrated years in American film history, encompassing such classics as "The Wizard of Oz," "Stagecoach" "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," "Ninotchka," "Wuthering Heights" and "Goodbye, Mr. Chips."
- "Gone with the Wind," director Victor Fleming's almost four-hour blockbuster film, was the longest feature released up to that time and it was the major Oscar winner of the year. It was also the first color film to win for best picture.
- The film earned 13 nominations and won eight competitive awards (and two special citations) - both records for the time. It would hold that record until "Gigi" (1957) won nine Oscars.
- Both lead acting awards were presented to British performers - for the first time in Academy history. Newcomer Vivien Leigh won for her portrayal of Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone with the Wind," and Robert Donat won for his title role in "Goodbye, Mr. Chips."
- The 1959 epic "Ben Hur" set an Academy Award record by winning 11 Oscars, a benchmark matched nearly four decades later by the 1997 blockbuster "Titanic." 2003's "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" also won 11 Oscars, from 11 nominations.
- U.S. actress Meryl Streep holds the record for most acting nominations, 17, including her latest for "The Iron Lady" and she has won twice. Katharine Hepburn earned 12 nominations and won four times. Ingrid Bergman is next with three Oscars from seven nominations.
- Jack Nicholson is the most nominated male star, with 12 nominations and three wins. Walter Brennan also won three, but from only four nominations.
- Independent movie titan Harvey Weinstein regained his title among awards circuit royalty, as his company's period drama "The King's Speech" beat out films from deep-pocketed studios for the coveted best film Academy Award.
- "King's Speech" claimed four Oscars - best film, actor for Colin Firth, director and screenplay - with a traditional story of a British monarch defeating personal demons.
- Natalie Portman was named best actress for her portrayal of a young ballerina who grows into womanhood in "Black Swan."
Sources: Reuters/www.filmsite.org and www.Oscars.org
Reporting by David Cutler; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Eric Beech