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365 Days of Oscar: “E.T.” and “Tootsie” Lose to “Gandhi”

Forty-one years ago today, the 55th Academy Awards took place at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in a ceremony co-hosted by Liza Minnelli, Dudley Moore, Richard Pryor, and Walter Matthau.

This was the last time the two highest-grossing films of the year (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Tootsie) were nominated for Best Picture until the 95th Academy Awards, 40 years later (Avatar: The Way of Water and Top Gun: Maverick). However, both lost to Gandhi, which won eight awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Ben Kingsley.

Meryl Streep won her second Oscar for Sophie’s Choice, as Best Actress. Jessica Lange lost to her for Frances, but won Best Supporting Actress for Tootsie. Louis Gossett Jr. became the first African-American actor to win Best Supporting Actor for his performance as the tough and principled drill instructor Emil Foley in An Officer and a Gentleman.

Most importantly, it was the night Barbara Stanwyck received her long-overdue Honorary Oscar.

Also of note:

Bhanu Athaiya also became the first Indian to win an Academy Award for Best Costume Design for Gandhi.

This marked the first of 28 consecutive years where a Barbara Walters interview special aired before the ceremony. Walters had previously aired an interview special in 1981 and, in subsequent years, her special aired prior to the Academy’s formal broadcast of celebrities walking the red carpet.

It was also the only time George C. Scott attended an Oscars ceremony.

This article is part of a special year-long series of anecdotes, reflections and thoughts about the Academy Awards.