The Origins of the Oscar: How the Prized Statue Got Its Name and More

One popular story suggests the awards was named "Oscar" after someone's uncle.

Since 1929, Hollywood has revolved around the golden Oscar statue. The prized award has gone through facelifts since first debuting as a knight figure. Here are five fun facts about the history of Hollywood's little golden man.

1. The first Oscar statue sketch was not how it looks today.

MGM art director Cedric Gibbons sketched the first figure of a knight holding a sword and standing on a reel of film with spokes representing the five branches of the Academy (actors, directors, producers, technicians and writers). The sword represented the protection for the welfare and advancement of the industry.

Later in 1928, L.A. sculptor George Stanley redesigned the statue with an improved knight figure, but removed the reel of film.

2. One popular story suggests the "Oscar" was named after someone’s uncle.

It's been said that Academy librarian and eventual executive director Margaret Herrick thought the statue resembled her Uncle Oscar. In 1934, Sidney Skolsky used the name in his Hollywood column to describe Katharine Hepburn’s first best actress win. The name caught on and the Academy made the name official in 1939.

The Oscar was first officially named the Academy Award of Merit. It stands 13.5 inches tall and weighs 8.5 pounds. 

3. Over 3,000 statuettes have been presented.

R.S. Owens & Company produce new statuettes each January in Chicago, but this year Polich Tallix Fine Art Foundry will take on the job and hand-cast the trophies in bronze before receiving their 24-karat gold finish. R.S. Owens & Company, who has been casting the Oscar mold since 1982, will continue to service existing Oscars and create other awards for the Academy.

4. The Oscar was first gold-plated solid bronze and later gold-plated metal.

A metal shortage during WWII caused the Oscars to be made of plaster for three years.

5. The Academy keeps a second set of additional Oscar statues on hand just in case …

Weeks before the Oscars in 2000, the annual shipment of Oscars were stolen. The Academy now stays prepared and locks extra trophies from the ceremony in a vault to be used the next year.