Hollywood Flashback: When Prince Won (and Wore a Purple Sequined Cape) at the 1985 Oscars

Prince at the Oscars - H 2016
AP Photo/Doug Pizac

The singer, then 26, won the last best original song score award for 'Purple Rain,' beating out the likes of 'The Muppets Take Manhattan.'

This story first appeared in the Feb. 5 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is taking heat for a perceived color bias, but back in 1985, there was room for a little purple: That was when Prince won the Oscar for best original song score for Purple Rain. (He beat The Muppets Take Manhattan.)

It had been an exceptionally good year for the 26-year-old virtuoso. The musical drama came out in July 1984, a month after the release of the Purple Rain soundtrack album, which spent 24 weeks at No. 1. Then the $7 million film went on to gross $68 million domestically ($155 million today). The Hollywood Reporter noted that the "flamboyant singer made an unusually subdued appearance to accept his prize." 

Draped in a sequined purple cape with high-heeled boots, lace gloves and a gold hoop earring, the actor-singer-songwriter was joined onstage at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion by his Revolution bandmembers, Lisa Coleman and Wendy Melvoin. First, he handed the statuette — presented by Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner — to Melvoin, saying, "Want to hold it?" His 63-word speech thanked seven people (six of them by first name only) and "most of all, God." Prince, it turns out, was the last person to win the best original song score award. Until there are a "sufficient quantity and quality" of original musicals, the Academy has put the category on hiatus.