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365 Days of Oscar: “It’s a tie!”

Fifty-five years ago today, the 41st Academy Awards were presented, the first Oscars to be staged at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and the first with no host since the 11th Academy Awards.

Oliver! became the only Best Picture winner to have received a G-rating prior to winning, the ratings system having replaced the old Hays Code on November 1, 1968 (though a number of Best Picture winners have received the rating retroactively). It was the last British film to win Best Picture until Chariots of Fire in 1981, and the last musical to win until Chicago in 2002.

The year was notable for the first – and so far, only – tie for Best Actress: Katharine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand shared the award, for their performances in The Lion in Winter and Funny Girl, respectively. Hepburn became the second actress and third performer to win an acting Oscar two years in a row (having won for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner the previous year), after Luise Rainer in 1936 (The Great Ziegfeld) and 1937 (The Good Earth), and Spencer Tracy in 1937 (Captains Courageous) and 1938 (Boys Town). She also became the first to win three acting Oscars in lead categories (an achievement later matched by Daniel Day-Lewis and Frances McDormand).

Cliff Robertson’s performance in Charly, which had received a mixed-to-negative reception from critics and audiences, engendered controversy when he won the Academy Award for Best Actor. Less than two weeks after the ceremony, TIME mentioned the Academy’s generalized concerns over “excessive and vulgar solicitation of votes” and said “many members agreed that Robertson’s award was based more on promotion than on performance.”

Of note:

  • Stanley Kubrick received his only career Oscar this year, for Best Visual Effects as special effects director and designer for 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • A few people griped over the failure of Paul Newman to get an Academy Award nomination for his direction of the film Rachel, Rachel, despite him receiving a Best Director award from the New York Film Critics Circle.
  • A minor controversy was created when, in a sketch on The Tonight Show, which was recorded three hours before the awards ceremony, Johnny Carson and Buddy Hackett announced Oliver! as the winner for Best Picture and Jack Albertson as Best Supporting Actor. Columnist Frances Drake claimed that most observers believed Carson and Hackett “were playing a huge practical joke or happened to make a lucky guess.” Referring to it as “The Great Carson Hoax,” PricewaterhouseCoopers stated in a 2004 press release that it was “later proven that Carson and Hackett made a few lucky guesses for their routine, dispelling rumors of a security breach and keeping the integrity of the balloting process intact.” Carson would go on to host the ceremony five times.

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