Oscars: Academy Award winners whose awards were stolen, destroyed or simply vanished

todayMarch 19, 2022

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It is a well-worn cliché for an Oscar winner to maintain their gong within the rest room. “The entire level is for everyone to choose it up and go, ‘I’d wish to thank my son and my dad’,” Kate Winslet mentioned in 2015, after admitting she retains her 2009 Greatest Actress award within the downstairs lavatory.

Winslet’s remarks spoke to a common fact: everybody needs to get their arms on an Academy Award. Not all the time by the use of truly profitable one, it ought to be mentioned, as a result of few of us have particular Hollywood aspirations. However who wouldn’t say no to dealing with one for a minute or two?

Some individuals even go a bit additional. Specifically, stealing an Oscar altogether.

For so long as there have been Academy Award ceremonies, there have been Oscar thefts and lacking statues. Some have vanished in transit, others have been yanked out of movie star properties. Some have even been sucked into the vortex to hell that Jared Leto has in his basement.

Forward of this 12 months’s Oscars on Sunday 27 March, we’ve recalled 12 incidents by which Academy Awards have been misplaced, pocketed or allegedly thrown right into a river, by no means to be seen once more.

Jared Leto

In 2021, the Dallas Consumers Membership Oscar winner revealed that he hadn’t seen his award for 3 years, and has no thought the place it ended up. “Everybody’s looked for it excessive and low,” he mentioned throughout an look on James Corden’s US chat present. Requested by Corden if somebody could have stolen it, Leto agreed together with his suspicions. “I believe it’s a superb chance. It’s not one thing somebody by accident throws within the trash.” It’s unclear whether or not Leto ever recovered his Oscar.

Whoopi Goldberg

Simply over a decade after she received the Greatest Supporting Actress Oscar for Ghost, Goldberg despatched her statue again to the Academy for a polish. It arrived in LA from New York protected and intact, however the UPS package deal the Academy then despatched on to a cleaner in Chicago – with Goldberg’s Oscar within it – turned up empty. Somebody had opened it, grabbed the Oscar and resealed it. Days later, the Oscar turned up in a bin close to a California airport and was returned to Goldberg. It has by no means been confirmed what precisely occurred. “Oscar won’t ever depart my home once more,” Goldberg mentioned in a press release in 2002.

Hattie McDaniel

The primary Black Oscar winner – for Gone with the Wind – left her award to Howard College in her will, the place it will definitely went lacking. Whereas McDaniel’s Oscar was initially put in a show case, it reportedly disappeared sooner or later within the Sixties, and hypothesis stays rife as to the place it ended up. Some have advised it was dumped in a river throughout Civil Rights protests on the college – and doubtlessly as a press release towards McDaniel profitable her Oscar for taking part in a maid. Others have theorised that whoever moved the award merely didn’t realise what it was – McDaniel was given a plaque versus the man-shaped award we recognise as an Oscar at present. Regardless, the thriller stays unsolved.

Vivien Leigh and Hattie McDaniel in ‘Gone with the Wind’


Bing Crosby

Very like Hattie McDaniel, Bing Crosby additionally bequeathed his Oscar to a college upon his dying. It additionally went a bit awry. Crosby’s Oscar – for the movie Going My Manner – was given to Gonzaga College in Spokane, Washington and acquired delight of place in a show case within the faculty’s library. Sooner or later in 1972, guests observed that the Oscar had disappeared, changed with a statue of Mickey Mouse. Crosby’s Oscar was discovered every week later within the college chapel, whereas the thief anonymously informed the campus newspaper that it was supposed as a prank.

Frances McDormand

In 2019, a Los Angeles court docket dismissed all prison fees towards a self-described “extremely favoured of God producer, A-list host, leisure journalist, actor, DJ and famous person” named Terry Bryant. One 12 months earlier, Bryant had been accused of stealing Frances McDormand’s freshly received Oscar for Three Billboards Outdoors Ebbing, Missouri, after being seen holding it throughout one of many present’s after events. Regardless of posting a video to his Fb by which he could possibly be seen kissing an Oscar statue and proclaiming that he had received it, Bryant all the time maintained his innocence. As for McDormand, her publicist launched a press release saying all was nicely: “After some transient time aside, Frances and her Oscar have been fortunately reunited. They celebrated the reunion with a double cheeseburger from In-N-Out Burger.”

Gone with the Wind

For inexplicable causes, Michael Jackson paid a report $1.5m (£1.1m) in 1999 for the Greatest Image Oscar awarded to Gone with the Wind in 1940. And that was regardless of the award – which Jackson purchased from the property of producer David O Selznick – solely being valued at $300,000 (£228,000). By the point Jackson died precisely a decade later in 2009, nevertheless, the award had vanished. The executors of his property couldn’t discover the Oscar in any of Jackson’s properties, nor any of his many storage amenities. Jackson’s kids would legally be capable to take possession of the Oscar in the event that they so wished, if solely anybody knew the place it was. Whereas it’s by no means been confirmed as having been swiped, the award’s whereabouts stay unknown.

Olympia Dukakis

Olympia Dukakis together with her (quickly to be stolen) Oscar in 1988

(Elisa Leonelli/Shutterstock)

The late actor had her Oscar for Moonstruck stolen in 1988 by a thief with very particular awards-show preferences. Regardless of Dukakis’s Oscar being on show in her kitchen alongside her Golden Globe and different awards, solely her Oscar was pilfered. Completely nothing else was taken from Dukakis’ dwelling, both. Then, there was a twist: the thief known as Dukakis’s son and supplied the Oscar again in change for a bag of money. A sting operation involving the police was mooted, however the deal by no means went down. As a substitute, Dukakis paid the Academy $78 (£59) to have a substitute Oscar despatched to her as a substitute.

Karl Freund

The acclaimed cinematographer received his Oscar in 1937, for his work on The Good Earth, just for the award to be stolen from his son-in-law’s dwelling in a housebreaking six years after Freund’s dying in 1975. It wasn’t seen for one more 15 years, when Freund’s son-in-law found that the Oscar was being supplied on the market for $20,000 (£15,000) in a Los Angeles paper. Chicago police tracked down the vendor, who mentioned that she’d been given the Oscar by a pal years earlier, and as collateral for a mortgage. Nobody knew how that pal got here to personal the Oscar, and Freund’s burglar has by no means been recognized. The Oscar, although, was returned safely to the cinematographer’s son-in-law.

Vivien Leigh

The legendary actor wasn’t in a position to gather her Oscar for A Streetcar Named Want in individual in 1952, leaving her to simply accept it at a smaller ceremony months later close to her dwelling in London. The town additionally performed host to a glitzy crime quickly after, with Leigh’s dwelling burgled and thieves making off with garments, silverware and her Oscar. Her authentic award was by no means recovered, however the Academy had changed it inside weeks.

Margaret O’Brien

The previous baby star was awarded a “Juvenile Oscar” in 1944 for her work in Meet Me in St Louis, just for it to be stolen from her dwelling shortly afterwards. O’Brien later mentioned {that a} housekeeper who labored for her household had taken the Oscar to be cleaned, earlier than vanishing with it. O’Brien was given a substitute, however the actor nonetheless hoped to be reunited together with her authentic Oscar, going as far as to repeatedly attend antiques festivals and auctions within the hopes of recognizing it. Then, in 1995, she was alerted that her Oscar had been discovered, her household housekeeper having given it to her kids, who themselves gave it to an auctioneer a long time later. With auctioneers unable to promote Oscars with out strict permission from the Academy, that they had handed it again as a substitute. It took almost 50 years, however O’Brien’s Oscar was lastly returned to her.

Margaret O’Brien and Judy Garland in ‘Meet Me in St Louis’


Matt Damon

The Oscar that Damon received in 1998 for writing Good Will Looking with Ben Affleck ended up in his New York residence, till a flood led to its disappearance. “One of many sprinklers went off when my spouse and I have been out of city,” he mentioned in 2007. “That was the final I noticed of it.” Damon admitted that the Oscar could have been put in storage by somebody who helped clear up the residence, but it surely additionally could have been taken.

Alice Brady

One of many weirder Oscar-theft tales didn’t truly occur, regardless of a long time of hearsay insisting it did. In 1938, Brady received the Greatest Supporting Actress Oscar for In Previous Chicago, however was unable to attend the ceremony attributable to a damaged ankle. For years it was claimed that the person who accepted Brady’s Oscar on her behalf was a complete stranger, who then absconded together with her award, by no means to be seen once more. The story of the alleged theft could be repeated in Oscar fan circles for years, together with a declare that Brady died in 1939 having by no means acquired a substitute award from the Academy. In reality, it was all an early bit of faux information. Brady’s Oscar was accepted on her behalf by In Previous Chicago director Henry King, and she or he acquired the award in query a couple of weeks later. So not fairly as enjoyable a narrative.

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