The Oscars is a way catchier name than The Academy Awards – so much so that in 2013 the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences actually just rebranded them as “The Oscars”.
But there are still competing versions of how and who actually started calling the surprisingly heavy little gold dudes by their name.
It’s basically the pop culture history version of the drunken argument about why your friend Alex has the nickname “Gary”.
The most common – and semi-official – story is from 1931, the third year the awards were held: Academy librarian (and future Academy Director) Margaret Herrick said that the statue reminded of her of her Uncle Oscar (actually her cousin, but that’s her private business).
But Sidney Skolsky, the columnist said to have recorded that remark as an affectionate nickname given by Academy employees, later said he coined it himself – in his first column covering the Awards, which was in 1934. He said it was an old vaudeville joke, and he used it to try and take the fancy, famous award-winners down a notch.
Meanwhile, the Walt Disney Company claims that Disney himself was the first person to use it in public, and before that it was an insider-y industry nickname for the statue – and that was during his win for Three Little Pigs in 1934, so Skolsky can’t have coined it the same year if that’s true.
I know, I know. Shocking that people in Hollywood would argue about who gets the credit for something – or obscure the truth for the sake of a good story.