The Academy Awards were televised beginning in 1953, and the first horror performer to accept an Oscar on TV was Best Supporting Actress Ruth Gordon for Roman Polanski’s 1968 classic ROSEMARY’S BABY; you can watch her win below. In hindsight, though, it’s positively scandalous that this landmark, hugely influential film only received one other nomination, for Best Writing Based on Material from Another Medium (Polanski’s screenplay from Ira Levin’s novel).
The ’70s started slowly for Academy recognition of scary stuff; for the first couple of years, all they could muster was a nod to Michael Jackson’s theme song for the killer-rat opus BEN. Then, at the tail end of 1973, THE EXORCIST blew the doors off, nabbing the first Best Picture nomination for a horror film and nine other nods, including William Friedkin for Director and three for its cast: Leading Actress Ellen Burstyn, Supporting Actor Jason Miller and Supporting Actress Linda Blair. The film won two statuettes; Miller and Angie Dickinson presented the Oscar for Best Screenplay Based on Material for Another Medium to EXORCIST author/scripter William Peter Blatty:
And on a lighter note, Candice Bergen and famed mime Marcel Marceau got together to award Best Sound to Robert Knudson and Christopher Newman:
The following year would see outrageous takes on genre favorites, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN and PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE, earn a few nods (Best Screenplay Adapted from Other Material and Best Sound, and Best Original Song Score, respectively). Then in 1975 came JAWS, which scared up the biggest box office in cinema history at the time, and instantly cemented Steven Spielberg’s rep—though not with the Academy, which failed to nominate him for Best Director. On the morning of the announcement, he shared that disappointment with a couple of friends—including, of all people, future MANIAC star Joe Spinell:
JAWS did get nods for Best Picture and in a trio of other categories, and won all three, including Best Sound. If you can get past hosts George Segal and Goldie Hawn’s shtick, here’s John Williams winning for Best Original Score:
And Verna Fields nabbing the trophy for Best Editing:
TO BE CONTINUED…