At Sunday’s Oscars, the wrong Best Picture winner was announced and mass confusion broke out on the stage of the Dolby Theater. A few hours later, the accounting firm of PwC issued an apology for giving Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway the wrong envelope. It’s a moment that will go down in Oscar history. However, this is not the first time that a presenter has been left red-faced onstage after being handed the wrong envelope.
Back in 1964, Sammy Davis Jr. was presenting the award for Best Music Score (Adaptation or Treatment). After reeling off the names of the nominees, he was given an envelope on-camera by an accountant, which he then opened and announced the winner to be John Addison for “Tom Jones.” In that case no one approached the stage as Addison was not nominated in this category. Davis being told the error of his ways, says “They gave me the wrong envelope?” and jokes “wait until the NAACP hears about this.”
The accountant from PwC predecessor company Price Waterhouse then comes on stage and gives him the correct envelope. Davis then puts on his glasses saying “Ain’t gonna make no mistake this time” and announces Andre Previn from “Irma Douce” as the winner. With no suspense, Addison then went on to win the next award. And Davis redeemed himself with s socko performance of songs that had lost the Oscar. His medley concluded with a searing rendition of “Blues in the Night,” which would certainly sum up the feelings of the “La La Land” folks.
Beatty’s sister Shirley MacLaine , who was in the audience on Sunday, was also there 53 years ago. The star of “Irma La Douce” had reaped her third Best Actress bid for her work as the Parisian streetwalker with a heart of gold. The previous year’s Best Actor champ, Gregory Peck (“To Kill a Mockingbird”) makes the presentation and Annabella accepts on behalf of the absent winner, Patricia Neal (“Hud), who is in London awaiting the birth of her fourth child. MacLaine would have to wait two decades before finally prevailing on nomination #5 for her performance in the Best Picture champ “Terms of Endearment.”