Marlon Brando refuses Oscar (1973)
Everyone in Hollywood expected Marlon Brando to win Best Actor for his portrayal of mob patriarch Don Corleone in The Godfather–including Brando himself, who boycotted the ceremony and sent a woman named Sacheen Littlefeather to officially refuse the award on his behalf. Attired in full ancestral Apache wear, Littlefeather delivered a short speech decrying the stereotypical treatment given Native Americans by the film industry, which drew a smattering of polite applause, and a few boos, from the bewildered crowd.
The Streaker (1974)
The bizarre fad of streaking–in which a completely unclothed person would sprint through a crowd–was still going on in 1974. At that year’s Oscars, host David Niven was about to introduce Elizabeth Taylor when a naked man bolted across the stage behind him while flashing a peace sign. To his credit, Niven kept his composure and earned the biggest laugh of the night with his impromptu comment: “Isn’t it fascinating to think that probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings?”
Sally Field: “You like me!” (1985)
Emotional moment or faux humility? Sally Field earned her second Best Actress trophy (following a 1979 win for Norma Rae) for Places in the Heart and surprised a lot of people with her gushing acceptance speech. The second award, said Field, meant more because she felt she had finally earned the respect of her acting peers. “I can’t deny the fact that you like me! Right now, you like me!” The line entered pop-culture lexicon, and could even resurface at this year’s Oscars should Field win Best Supporting Actress for Lincoln.
Rob Lowe’s Snow White duet (1989)
What were they thinking? At the behest of show producer Allan Carr, the 1989 Oscar broadcast opened with an over-the-top production number with actor Rob Lowe performing onstage opposite an actress dressed as Snow White. The number ran a long 20 minutes and at one point Lowe and Snow segued into the song Proud Mary, for no apparent reason whatsoever. The fact that Lowe had just come off a lurid scandal (videotaping himself having sex with underage girls) several weeks before didn’t help matters one bit.
Jack Palance’s pushups (1992)
After two previous Oscar nominations (for Sudden Fear in 1952 and Shane in 1953), veteran Hollywood fixture Jack Palance finally won the trophy for his role as a crusty cowpoke in the comedy City Slickers. In the middle of his rambling speech about how producers were reluctant to cast older actors, the 72-year-old Palance stepped to one side of the podium and began doing one-armed push-ups. The man made his point.
Roberto Benigni’s seat-climbing (1999)
Walking to the stage would have been too obvious for Italian actor-director Roberto Benigni won the Best Foreign Language Oscar for his film Life is Beautiful. In what appeared to be a spontaneous move, Benigni hopped gingerly from one seat back to the next, while the audience roared its approval. And when he reached the stasge, he gave presenter Sophia Loren a bear hug that seemed to last an eternity. Mama mia!
Adrien Brody kisses Halle Berry (2003)
Talk about the heat of the moment. Adrien Brody’s Best Actor win for The Pianist made him the youngest actor in history to win the coveted honour. In collecting his prize, Brody embraced presenter Halle Berry and planted a full-mouth kiss on her that went on and on and on. When the liplock finally ended, Berry looked stunned and not entirely pleased, while Brody acted as though nothing had happened. Just like an actor, right?