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365 Days of Oscar: Sidney Poitier Makes History

Sixty years ago today, the 36th Academy Awards took place, with Jack Lemmon hosting from the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.

This ceremony introduced the category for Best Sound Effects, with It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World being the first film to win the award. Best Picture went to Tom Jones, the only film to date to receive three Best Supporting Actress nominations. It also tied the Oscar record of five unsuccessful acting nominations, set by Peyton Place at the 30th Academy Awards.

Controversially, Patricia Neal won Best Actress for her role in Hud, despite having a relatively small amount of screen time. Melvyn Douglas won Best Supporting Actor for the same film, making it the second and, to date, last film to win two acting awards without being nominated for Best Picture.

At age 71, Margaret Rutherford set a then-record as the oldest winner for Best Supporting Actress, a year after Patty Duke set a then-record as the youngest winner. Rutherford was also only the second Oscar winner over the age of 70 (the other was Edmund Gwenn), as well as the last person born in the 19th century to win an acting Oscar. This was the only year in Academy history that all Best Supporting Actress nominees were born outside the United States.

Sidney Poitier became the first African American actor to win Best Actor, and was practically the only winner in an acting category present at the ceremony, as all the other winners were abroad. Upon receiving the wrong envelope, Sammy Davis, Jr. remarked, “wait until the NAACP hears about this!”

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