On This Day In History – May 16

The first Academy Awards ceremony is held.


Bettman Archive/Getty Images

Katie Whelan, Staff Writer

May 16, 1929

The Oscars are awarded for the first time; presented by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In May 1927, the Academy was founded as a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion and improvement of the cinema industry.

It was held in the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel and was attended by only 270 people. The ceremony lasted only 15 minutes, and was not broadcasted on either the radio or the television, and tickets costed $5 (roughly $89 today).It is now the world’s most important entertainment awards show. The most recent Oscars, the 95th awards ceremony, was watched by over 18.7 million people in the United States. The Oscars of today tend to run around 3 hours, and prices run $150-750 for a seat.

In the first ceremony; Wings, directed by William Wellman, was the first recognized Best Picture winner. With a $2 million budget, it was the most expensive film of its day. It told the story of two World War I pilots who fell in love with the same woman.

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Janet Gaynor, 22, was the only female winner. She won for all three roles in Seventh Heaven, Street Angel, and Sunrise after winning three of the five Best Actress nominations.

The relevance of the A.M.P.A.S. in rewarding people for their excellence in their talents is clear today. Many artists and actors have received a great career boost for this award, rewarding them for their efforts in keeping the entertainment industry alive.

Photo by Blaine Ohigashi, A.M.P.A.S.