There have been many Academy award hosts since the first Oscar ceremony was held in 1929. The first host for the awards was also one of the creators of the Academy and the first Academy president, famous actor Douglas Fairbanks. Since the ceremony was not broadcast publically, and because many nominees and winners didn't show up, Fairbanks did little more than announce winners and hand out statues.
Traditionally, Academy Awards hosts have been Academy actors, presidents or popular comedians. There have been years with no host, co-hosts and large groups acting as hosts. The best known group host ensemble was in 1958 with Bob Hope, Jack Lemmon, David Niven, Rosalind Russell, James Stewart and the cartoon character Donald Duck. Obviously, Donald Duck was used in film form for hosting purposes, not live form.
The Best Academy Award Hosts
In 1953 the Oscars, officially known as Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Awards, were broadcast on TV for the first time. The new broadcast needed a well-known host that had done the awards before and one to which television audiences could relate. Actor Bob Hope was chosen and became the first Oscars host to ever be seen by the nation. Hope acted as host for the awards a total of 19 times, a record number.
Billy Crystal has hosted eight Oscar ceremonies, the second highest number in Academy Awards history. Like Bob Hope, the man who hosted the awards the most time, Crystal was a well known and very talented comedian. Crystal, Hope and comedian Johnny Carson hold the record for hosting the most Academy Awards in a row, all with four times.
In 1958, actress Rosalind Russell was the first women to act as a co-host for the Academy awards. However, it wasn't until 1994 that a woman would officially act as host. Whoopi Goldberg became the first female to host the Academy Awards solo. She went on to host a total of four times.
The Worst Academy Award Hosts
Logically, the worst Academy Awards hosts were all Academy presidents, such as Douglas Fairbanks, William C. deMille and Conrad Nagel. They were all accomplished men, but none were comedians. They generally did not have the wit and pizzazz, not to mention comedic speech writers, we now expect of an Oscar host.
While loved by some, comedians David Lettermen in 1995 and Chris Rock in 2005 were considered poor hosts. They both did the show only one time to very varied reviews. In fact, Lettermen's "Oprah-Uma, Uma-Oprah," joke has gone down is history as one of the worst lines ever used. The joke was basically Letterman introducing talk-show host Oprah Winfrey to actress Uma Thurman.
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