You are currently viewing 365 Days of Oscar: “Lawrence of Arabia” has an epic sweep

365 Days of Oscar: “Lawrence of Arabia” has an epic sweep

Sixty-one years ago today, the 35th Academy Awards, honoring the best in film for 1962, were held at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica, California, hosted by Frank Sinatra. The year’s most successful film was David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia, with 10 nominations and 7 wins, including Best Picture and Lean’s second win for Best Director. For his role as T. E. Lawrence, Peter O’Toole received his first of eight career nominations for Best Actor, all unsuccessful (as of the 94th Academy Awards, O’Toole and Glenn Close share the record for the most acting nominations with no wins).

Arthur Penn’s The Miracle Worker earned the rare distinction of winning two acting Oscars (Best Actress for Anne Bancroft and Best Supporting Actress for Patty Duke) without a nomination for Best Picture. The only other film to do this to date was Hud, the following year.

The Best Actress Oscar occasioned the last act of the long-running feud between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. They had starred together for the first time in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, a surprise hit the previous summer. Davis was nominated for her role as the title character, a faded child star who humiliates the wheelchair-using sister who eclipsed her fame in adulthood, while Crawford was not.

Crawford told the other nominated actresses that, as a courtesy, she would accept their awards for them should they be unavailable on the night of the ceremony. Davis did not object as her rival had often done this, but, on the night of the ceremony, she was livid when Crawford took the stage, wearing what was described as a “radiant smile,” to cheerfully accept the award on behalf of Anne Bancroft, who had a Broadway commitment. Davis believed that Crawford had told other Oscar voters to vote for The Miracle Worker star in order to upstage her. The rekindled animosity between the two resulted in Crawford leaving the cast of Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, a planned follow-up to Baby Jane that began filming the next summer, early in production. 

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