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365 Days of Oscar: “Gigi” Breaks a Record — Only to Be Broken

Sixty-five years ago today, the 31st Academy Awards ceremony was held. The night was dominated by Gigi, which won nine Oscars, breaking the previous record of eight set by Gone with the Wind and tied by From Here to Eternity and On the Waterfront.

 

Gigi set a new record for biggest Oscars sweep, winning all nine of its nominations, which would later be tied by The Last Emperor in 1987 and broken, in 2003, when The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King won all 11 of its nominations. Gigi was also the last film until The Last Emperor to win Best Picture without any acting nominations.

The ceremony was hosted by an ensemble of actors: Jerry Lewis, Mort Sahl, Tony Randall, Bob Hope, David Niven, and Laurence Olivier. Niven won Best Actor that night, making him the only host in Oscar history to have won an award while hosting.

The show’s producer, Jerry Wald, started cutting numbers from the show to make sure it ran on time, but cut too much material, and the ceremony ended 20 minutes early, leaving Jerry Lewis to attempt to fill in the time, which he did with a performance of “There’s No Business Like Show Business” from all 90 of the participating stars; Lewis did impromptu conducting of the number, but some of the stars began to talk among themselves, while others left or bumped into each other in confusion. Eventually, NBC cut to a re-run of a sports show.

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