Arts + Culture

Online photo album recalls past triumphs at the Oscars

UCLA Library staff gives us look at past Academy Awards ceremonies, onstage and behind the curtain

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Long before glittery red-carpet arrivals for the Academy Awards came to you live on TV and in bursts of tweets, this annual tribute to Hollywood royalty was a glamorous affair caught in the flash of cameras.

In anticipation of the 88th Academy Awards ceremony on Feb. 28, UCLA Library’s Special Collections staff have recaptured some of Hollywood’s finest hours in an online album of 48 Los Angeles Times photographs of the Academy Awards ceremonies from the 1950s to 1970s.

The images are part of the library’s vast Los Angeles Times Photographic Archives ca. 1918–1990, and include vivid scenes that go beyond formality of the red carpet. Through the camera’s lens, we witness the commotion happening outside one theater as a solid blue line of police hold back a sea of exuberant fans. Another photographer memorialized an unguarded moment when cigarette-smoking John Wayne, sitting in a near-empty theater, enjoys a friendly conversation with Maurice Chevalier, Anthony Quinn and writer-producer Jerry Wald during a rehearsal in 1958.

Jennifer O’Leary, a UCLA graduate student in the Moving Image Archive Studies program, searched through hundreds of negatives to be able to curate the selection of photographs under the supervision of Courtney Dean, UCLA archivist for the L.A. Times collection.

“One of the strengths of the L.A. Times collection is its coverage of Hollywood and the entertainment industry, so there was definitely a large cache of images to choose from,” Dean said. O’Leary, a student assistant in Special Collections, has extensive knowledge of film history, the associate librarian said.

The black-and-white photographs in the album are just a small part of the trove of Academy Awards-related images stored in Special Collections, all of which have not yet been digitized. In fact, the library has a wide variety of other materials and memorabilia related to past Academy Awards. Among the items stored in the UCLA Library are programs from past ceremonies, scripts and production materials, the official papers belonging to past Academy Award winners and one genuine Oscar, won by costume designer Dorothy Jeakins for “Night of the Iguana” in 1964.

See the entire album on Flickr.

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