Oscar: Memorable Moments (Part 2)–Shortest, Funniest, Most Pretentious Acceptance Speeches

levy_oscar_feverSuppose you won an Oscar Award.  What would you say if you have only 45 seconds–the recommended length of a speech–in the spotlight?

Thank You: Short and Simple

The “Thank You” note is customary in every speech, but various people have been thanked for different reasons.

Maureen Stapleton, Supporting Actress for Reds, outdid them all when she thanked: “Troy, New York, my children, my family, my friends, and everybody I ever met in my entire life, and my inspiration, Joel McCrea.”

Supporting Actor winner, Frank Sinatra, Supporting Actor for From Here to Eternity, said: “If I start thanking everybody, I’ll do a one-reeler. He was not joking.

“I wrote a long movie and I’m going to make a long speech,” said John Briley, Original Screenplay for Gandhi, and he did.

So did Beatrice Straight, Supporting Actress for Network, whose speech was almost as long as her winning part, practically two brief scenes!

Becoming Religious

An Oscar nomination can do strange things to the contenders: “I hope I’m as religious the rest of the year as I’ve been the last two months.” Co-producer Lili Zanuck, Best Picture winner, Driving Miss Daisy.

The Long and the Short of It:

The all-time record (5 and a quarter minutes) is still held by Greer Garson’s (Mrs. Miniver) speech, thanking everyone, from the Academy to “the doctor who brought me into the world.”  Garson’s speech became such a joke in Hollywood, imitated to death at parties, that for years she refused to talk in public.

By contrast, one of the shortest speeches ever was Joe Pesci’s, Supporting Actor for GoodFellas: “It’s my privilege.  Thank you.”

Long, Long Way to Oscar:

“It sure is a wonderful world when a tired crooner like me can walk away with this hunk of crockery.” Bing Crosby, Best Actor, Going My Way.

“It took me as long to win this as it took to win the West.”  James Webb, Original Screenplay, How the West Was Won.

“I thought some day I might win an award for lasting so long!  But I never thought I would get this particular award.” Tearful John Wayne, Best Actor, True Grit.

All in the Timing

“It just happened that this year Mrs. March and I adopted a child and Mr. and Mrs. Beery adopted a child.  And here we are, both, getting awards for the best male performance of the year.”  Fredric March, Best Actor for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, who split the 1931/2 award with Wallace Beery, Best Actor for The Champ.


“I’m happy enough to cry, but I can’t take the time to do so.  A taxi is waiting outside with the engine running.” Claudette Colbert (It Happened One Night) on her way to the Santa Fe Train.

The Role’s the Thing:

“Now I know there is a Santa Claus.” Supporting Actor winner Edmund Gwenn for playing Santa Claus in The Miracle on 34th Street.

“I accept this very gratefully for keeping my mouth shut. I think I’ll do it again.”  Jane Wyman, Best Actress, Johnny Belinda, for playing a deaf‑mute.

“I’d like to thank Mrs. Christry Brown.  Anybody who gives birth 22 times deserves one of these.”   Brenda Fricker, Supporting Actress winner for My Left Foot.

Words to the Wise:

“Mostly I want to say to every waiting actor, hang on! Look what can happen!” Mercedes McCambridge winning the Best Supporting Actress for her debut, All the King’s Men.

Luck of the Irish

“It can’t be March 30, it must be March 17.” Edmond O’Brien, Supporting Actor, The Barefoot Contessa.

Oscar Babies:

“I may have the baby right here out of excitement.” Eva Marie Saint, Supporting Actress in On the Waterfront.

“It was a long walk, I didn’t think I would make it.  As wonderful as From Here to Eternity was, what’s even more wonderful is Eternity to Here.”  Donna Reed, Supporting Actress for From Here to Eternity.

Family, Family, Family:

“God bless you my mother, I love you, my beautiful wife Paulette…My son said he was going to make one of these out of clay for me, now I’ve got the model for him.” Denzel Washington, Supporting Actor, Glory.

“This means a lot to me, since it comes from a role in which I was directed by my father. And I know it means a lot to him.” Anjelica Huston, Supporting Actress, Prizzi’s Honor.

“I’d like to thank my wife Miriam who supported me during the terrible years when I couldn’t get a job in this town.” Schulman, Best Original Screenplay for Dead Poets Society

“I guess I’m lucky that my grandmother was such a terrible driver.” Alfred Uhry, Adapted Screenplay winner for Driving Miss Daisy.

“I’ve got a spirit that guides me, starting from a great-grandmother who died at the age of 117.” Louis Gossett, Jr., Best Supporting Actor, An Officer and a Gentleman.


“I would like to thank my colleagues, Brahms, Bach, Beethoven, Richard Strauss.” Dimitri Tiomkin, Dramatic Score Award, The High and the Mighty.

“I believe a writer worth his salt at all has an obligation not only to entertain, but to comment on the world in which he lives, not only to comment, but maybe have a shot at reshaping the world.” Adapted Screenplay winner Abby Mann, Judgment at Nuremberg.