50 Years Ago, the Academy Awards in Santa Monica

"Officials for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences proclaimed it the most glamorous and the most perfectly run of all the 35 spectaculars in academy history," the Santa Monica Outlook reported on April 9, 1963.

Guests arrived in chauffered-limousines and beat-up taxi cabs and walked across a "brilliantly lighted plaza" as cold winds whipped across the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium for the 1963 Annual Academy Awards, a glamorous fete proclaimed the best in Oscar's 35-year history.

The next day, the Santa Monica Outlook, the then-local paper of record, published in-depth and colorful coverage of the glamorous awards show with stories detailing the fashion, the police security, and the drama.

"Officials for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences proclaimed it the most glamorous and the most perfectly run of all the 35 spectaculars in academy history," the Outlook reported.

It was the third time the Oscars were presented at The Civic in Santa Monica, and would be held there for five more years before moving to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in downtown Los Angeles in 1969.

Frank Sinatra made his debut as the master of ceremonies in place of Bob Hope, who had hosted five times before but who was barred because of a conflict with the toothpaste sponsor of the Oscar show. The Outlook said with Old Blue Eyes emceeing, there was "attention on winners and presenters with a gain in dignity at the expense of fun."

"Lawrence of Arabia" won best picture and 16-year-old Patty Duke was the first performer under the age of 18 to win a competitive Oscar, best supporting actress for her role in "The Miracle Worker." It was reportedly to no ones surprise that  Gregory Peck won best actor in "To Kill a Mocking Bird."

When the 2,600 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences guests arrived, the Outlook said they stepped onto a red carpet that blanketed The Civic's grassy lawn. "Enormous lights made the whole pathway brilliant as a TV camera on a special boom hovered over the arriving throng like a giant bug looking for a place to light," the newspaper reported.

The squealing spectator crowd reportedly blocked a group of black picketers along Ocean Avenue, "protesting what they charged was the industry's failure to properly present members of their race in pictures."

One of the most amusing stories in the April 9, 1963 Oscar edition of the Outlook, "Best-Dressed Missed Oscar Show," was about the woman in evening gowns and men in tuxedos who tried to sneak past ticket takers by spinning lies about "tickets left at home, tickets forgotten in the car, or tickets that were to be left at the door."

A picture accompany the story shows an unidentified woman poking her head through a tent near the spectators bleachers to find "Danny Thomas, who greeted her, to her delight, with a quick kiss!"

Brenda Barnes February 24, 2013 at 11:00 PM
I like the Civic. It has one good memory for me that changed my life. I'll bet if we could get the incompetent, cronyist, contract-padding SM City government out of the way, we could refurbish it with private money and volunteers at a reasonable price and have some of these awesome events here again.


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