While trolling through YouTube doing research for my Triple Crowners series, I came across this clip. Watch and be stunned:
This is Natalie Wood, Ingrid Bergman, Jane Fonda, Diahann Carroll and Rosalind Russell at the 1968 Academy Awards (which was the first year the ceremony was broadcast globally). They presented the best director Oscar, but not before admonishing the nominated directors for doing their best "to make female stars obsolete." Bergman starts off the patter with, "We are assembled here somewhat reluctantly..." and the quintet proceeds to mock the directors -- except Anthony Harvey, who had a female lead in Katharine Hepburn in The Lion in Winter -- for stacking their casts with men exclusively. (Bergman herself disqualifies Olivia Hussey, who played Juliet in nominee Franco Zeffirelli's Shakespeare adaptation, by brushing her off as "a teenaged newcomer" in a tone that is mischievous at best, contemptuous at worst.) Fonda and Russell in particular appear to be reveling in their own rebellion.
I've devoured my share of Oscar-related books, and I've never heard of this bit of unscripted subterfuge. After finding this clip, I tried to Google my way to answers: Whose idea was it? It must've been planned and rehearsed -- how else could it have been executed so flawlessly? What was the general reaction at the time, besides a surprised smattering of laughter in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion? How come the winner, Carol Reed, didn't respond during his acceptance speech? I found no answers online. The quintet of women aren't even listed as presenting the 1968 best director Oscar in the "Self" section of their IMDb filmographies. I scoured my Oscar books and found no mention of the incident. And yet here these women are, plain as day on YouTube, sticking it to the men and then politely giving the Oscar to one of them.
Has anyone heard of this before? Is this old news? And do you think these women's stunt was purposeful or tactless? Either way, it's one of the few Oscar clips that the Academy has not pulled selfishly and unreasonably from YouTube. Watch it while you can, if only to hear Russell dismiss HAL 9000 as "girlish."
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