Who doesn’t love the Academy Awards? It’s an opportunity to see our favorite celebrities dressed to the nines and to learn how our movie critiques tracked against those of voting Members of the Academy.  As we sit in the comfort of our living rooms, for one evening, we get a camera’s

Revelers at the George Eastman House 2010 Academy Awards Party

peephole view into the seemingly glamorous personal and professional lives of Hollywood stars and share in their achievements and successes…as well as their disappointments. Whether or not our favorite actors or movies win, the mere act of viewing the spectacle somehow makes us feel we have had a role in supporting some of  the most memorable,  inspiring, and often, innovative entertainment of the year.

Although I bet few of my readers would remember when the Academy Awards weren’t an annual gala celebration, there was a time when actors and movies of the silver screen were not formally recognized.  In fact…

  • The first Academy Awards event took place at an awards banquet on May 16, 1929 in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel’s Blossom Room.
  • Over 2700 Oscars® have been awarded since the statuette was originally designed by Cedric Gibbon in 1929.
  • For three years during WW II, because of a metal shortage, the Oscars were cast of plaster rather than gold-plated metal.
  • The origins of the moniker “Oscar” are uncertain. It is thought that the statuette representing a knight holding a crusader’s sword and standing on a film reel, might have been given that name by Academy librarian (and eventual executive director) Margaret Herrick who reputedly said that the figurine looked like her uncle Oscar.  The statuette, originally called “The Academy Award of Merit” stands 13 1/2″ high and weighs 8.5 pounds.
  • You can access an Oscar Party Kit, complete with drink and appetizer recipes, and downloadable Oscar Ballots and Bingo cards.

If you’d like to attend the awards, but can’t get off work the following day to fly back, you’ll be pleased to discover there are several celebrations taking place in the Finger Lakes that will give you a taste of the red carpet experience without the red eye flight afterwords.

  • Saturday, Feb. 26, 6 p.m. – Auburn Public Theater – Join master of ceremonies Steve Hytner (Kenny Bania from Seinfeld) and Todd Lattimore (
    (Broadway’s La Cage aux Folles)for a pre-awards night celebration. Steve and Todd will interview you as the paparazzi snap your red carpet  photograph.  You’ll dine on great food and drink and view clips from nominated films.  You’ll also enjoy a performance by the Absolute Dance Company.  There’s even a fantastic raffle for a one week rental on Cayuga Lake in August, to top off the evening. Tickets are $50 per person. To order them, call 315-253-6669. 8 Exchange Street, Auburn. (Dress: Gala Attire)
  • Sunday, Feb. 27, 7 p.m.George Eastman House International Museum of Film & Photography –  Celebrate Hollywood’s most glamorous night at the home of film making. Enjoy live music, dancing, a silent auction, and view the Academy Awards ceremony on the big screen in the Dryden Theatre. Admission includes hors d’oeuvres, desserts, and a glass of beer or wine on the house. Advance tickets are $55 members/$60 nonmembers, $65 day of event, and include free valet parking.  Order tickets here by February 14 for a chance to win a Red Carpet Evening, including the creation of a designer dress by Nathaniel’s Originals , a tux rental by Vittorio’s, hair design by Benn Lobal, makeup design Joan Lincoln and limo service to the event.  Red Carpet Experience hosted by Geva Theatre Center. After Feb. 14, order tickets by calling (484) 271-3361 ext. 444, or order online. 900 East Avenue, Rochester (Dress: To impress)

If you know of other Academy Awards Celebrations in the Finger Lakes, won’t you please share them!

Photo courtesy of George Eastman House International Museum of Photography & Film