Oscar Scandals: Tomei, Marisa

In 1992, Marisa Tomei won the Supporting Actress for the comedy My Cousin Vinny, in which she played a feisty New York girl taken for granted by her lawyer boyfriend.

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 in Enchanted April, Vanessa Redgrave in Howards End, and Miranda Richardson in 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. S

ince her win, 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.”