The first Academy Awards were given out on May 16, 1929. The winners were announced in a private ceremony at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. The films that won the awards during this event are now considered classics, such as The Broadway Melody and Wings. One of the greatest surprises of the night was Emil Jannings winning Best Actor for his roles in The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh. But who has actually crowned the first Oscar winner?
Who Won the First Oscar?
That honor goes to Janet Gaynor, who won Best Actress for her performances in Seventh Heaven, Street Angel, and Sunrise. Gaynor was a popular actress at the time and had already won a Golden Globe award for her work on Seventh Heaven. She beat out other nominees such as Mary Pickford, Norma Talmadge, and Louise Dresser. In her acceptance speech, Gaynor thanked her fans and said that she hoped to “earn their respect in the future by doing honest work.”
Despite being the first Oscar winner, Janet Gaynor is not as well-known today as some of the other nominees from that night. But her legacy lives on in the award that bears her name, and she is still considered one of the greatest actresses of all time.
Interestingly, another popular award goes to Emil Jannings, who was a popular actor in the late 1920s, and he won two Oscars in 1929 for his work in The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh. Jannings was the very first actor to win an Oscar, and he is still considered one of the greatest actors of all time.
The Last Command was a silent film that starred Jannings as a general who was forced to flee Russia after the revolution. The Way of All Flesh was a talkie that starred Jannings as a pastor who is corrupted by the world.
Emil Jannings was a German actor who started his career in the late 1910s. He quickly became popular in Germany and Austria, and he eventually moved to Hollywood in the 1920s.
Jannings continued to act until the 1940s, and he eventually retired from show business. He died in 1950 at the age of 73.
List of Janet Gaynor’s Movies
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Janet Gaynor is known for starring in various movies throughout his career. Her exceptional work is what makes her distinct from other actors and actresses, allowing her to win an Oscar award at such an early age. Here is a list of movies starred by Janet Gaynor:
- Seventh Heaven (1927) – Gaynor portrays a young girl who falls in love with a boy her family doesn’t approve of.
- Street Angel (1928) – Gaynor is known for playing the lead role in this movie about a young woman pursuing to be an artist in New York City.
- Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927) – Often cited as one of the greatest films ever made, Sunrise tells the story of a married couple on the brink of separation.
- Sunset Boulevard (1950) – A classic film noir that stars Gloria Swanson and William Holden. Gaynor has a supporting role in this movie.
- Faraway, So Close! (1993) – Gaynor’s most recent movie, in which she portrays a grandmother.
List of Emil Jannings’ Movies
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Just like Janet Gaynor, Emil Jannings is known for his exceptional work in various movies. Unlike Gaynor, however, he started his career a little bit later but quickly rose to fame because of his amazing talent. Here is a list of movies starred by Emil Jannings:
- The Last Command (1928) – In this movie, Jannings portrays the last czar of Russia before the Bolshevik Revolution.
- The Way of All Flesh (1927) – Jannings plays a father who is struggling to keep his family together.
- Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927) – Jannings portrays one of the main antagonists in this movie, opposite Janet Gaynor.
- The Patriot (1928) – Jannings plays the title role in this movie about a man who sacrifices everything for his country.
- All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) – This is considered to be one of the greatest anti-war movies ever made. It stars Louis Wolheim, Lew Ayres, and John Wray. Jannings has a supporting role.
- The Blue Angel (1930) – This movie is about a professor who becomes sexually obsessed with a nightclub singer. Jannings played the lead role and was nominated for an Oscar for his performance.
- City Girl (1930) – This movie stars Gary Cooper and Mary Pickford, and Jannings has a supporting role.
Other Awards Given and Winners at the 1st Academy Awards Ceremony
Besides Janet Gaynor and Emil Jannings, other actors and actresses are also known for winning the 1st Academy Awards. The diversity of films during this time was a milestone in the film industry, along with the excellent work of these celebrities.
Here are the various awards and winners at the 1929 Academy Awards Ceremony:
- Best Actress – Janet Gaynor
- Best Actor – Emil Jannings
- Best Director for Comedy Picture – Lewis Milestone
- Best Director for Dramatic Picture – Frank Borzage
- Best Picture – Wings
- Best Cinematography – Charles Rosher and Karl Struss for Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
- Art Direction – William Cameron Menzies
- Engineering Effects – Roy Pomeroy
- Special Award – The Circus
- Writing (Adaptation) – Benjamin Glazer: 7th Heaven
- Writing (Original) – Ben Hecht: Underworld
- Writing (Title Writing) – Joseph Farnham
These are the awards and winners of the first Academy Awards. Over the years, these awards have been used to appreciate excellent films and actors. It is interesting to see how far the film industry has come in such a short amount of time.
The first Academy Awards were a momentous occasion, and they set the stage for the Oscars that we know today. The winners were announced in a private ceremony, and many of them went on to become Hollywood legends. Emil Jannings was one of those winners, and his legacy continues to this day. Janet Gaynor is not as well-known today as some of the other nominees from that night, but she’ll always be known for her achievement in the first Academy Awards.