Oscar Scandals: Tomei, Marisa–Did She Really Win for My Cousin Vinny

In 1992, Marisa Tomei won the Supporting Actress Oscar for the silly (fish out of water) comedy “My Cousin Vinny,” in which she played a feisty New York girl taken for granted by her lawyer boyfriend (Joe Pesci). Tomei was up against the British and Australian royalty: Judy Davis in Woody Allen’s “Husbands and Wives” (cited by the L.A. Film Critics Association), Joan Plowright was nominated for “Enchanted April,” Vanessa Redgrave was up for “Howards End,” and Miranda Richardson was recognized for “Damage.”

When Tomei was nominated in 2002 for a second Supporting Actress for “In the Bedroom,” her agents and friends hoped she would win–and finally live down one of Oscar’s biggest myths. Ever since she had won, Tomei gas been dogged by talk that presenter Jack Palance had read the wrong name at the podium. Tomei had called the rumor incredibly hurtful and has refused to comment on it. The hubhub began when Palance called fellow nominee Judy Davis Joan, confusing her with the 1950s TV star. But witnesses say that Tomei herself was utterly stunned when Palance named her over such grand dames as Plowright and Redgrave. One voter recalled: “It seemed bizarre to everyone I knew that Marisa Tomei would win in such a year.” 
 
What if Palance had flubbed? “It’s absolutely hogwash,” insisted Frank Johnson, of the PriceWaterhouse Coopers accountants, who supervised the results and remain alert during the show, should the presenter make an error. Explained Johnson: “We have an agreement with the Academy that, if that happens, one of us would step on stage, introduce ourselves and say the presenter misspoke.”
 
It must have been a relief for Tomei to receive two Oscar nominations, both in the Supporting Category: “In the Bedroom” in 2001 and “The Wrestler” in 2008.  It may be a coincidence, but Tomei exposed her breasts in the “The Wrestler” (playing a stripper), as well as in her former movie, “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.”