What do the 55th annual Academy Awards which took place April 11, 1983 have in common with the upcoming 95th Oscars?
Steven Spielberg and John Williams.
Back in 1983, Spielberg’s beloved “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” was nominated for nine Academy Awards including film, director and score. This year, the 76-year-old Spielberg and Williams, 91, are both nominated for “The Fabelmans.” The filmmaker’s semi-autobiographical drama is in contention for eight Academy Awards including film, director, screenplay and score.
The 55th Oscars made history with Ben Kingsley becoming the first actor of Indian descent to win the best actor Oscar for his extraordinary portrayal of “Gandhi” while Louis Gossett Jr. become the first black actor to win in the supporting category with his iconic turn as tough-nosed D.I. in “An Officer and a Gentleman.” This year, history could be made again in the best actress category. Malaysian Chinese performer Michelle Yeoh has the chance to become the first Asian actress to win the top prize for “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
Forty years ago, the classic German World War II submarine thriller “Das Boot” was nominated for six Oscars including best director and adapted screenplay for Wolfgang Petersen and cinematography. This year, Germany’s “All Quiet on the Western Front” based on Erich Maria Remarque’s 1929 harrowing World War I novel is nominated for nine Oscars including best film, international feature, adapted screenplay and cinematography.
And Jamie Lee Curtis, who has earned her first Oscar nod at 64 in the supporting category for “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” was a presenter at the ceremony four decades ago. She and Carl Weathers gave the Sound Effects Editing Academy Award to “E.T.”
The ceremony took place at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion with four hosts: Walter Matthau, Liza Minnelli, Dudley Moore and Richard Pryor. The quartet even performed the song “It All Comes Down to This.”
Richard Attenborough’s acclaimed biographical epic “Gandhi” entered the Academy Awards with 11 nominations and won eight including best film, director and screenplay. Bhauna Athaiya became the first Indian to win for costume design for the film. “E.T” won four including Williams for original score. Williams was also nominated for best original song with lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman for “If We Were in Love” from “Yes, Giorgio.”
It was quite the gender-bender year with “Tootsie,” Sydney Pollack’s comedy about an actor who disguises himself as a woman in order to get a job received 10 nominations including best actor for Dustin Hoffman. The box office hit won supporting actress for Jessica Lange, who was also nominated for lead actress as troubled performer Frances Farmer in “Frances.”
Blake Edwards’ musical comedy “Victor/Victoria” earned seven nominations including best actress for Julie Andrews as a struggling singer who disguises herself as a male entertaining pretending to be a woman; veteran Robert Preston for supporting actor as an aging gay performer and supporting actress for Lesley Ann Warren as a gangster’s clueless blonde moll. Henry Mancini and Leslie Bricusse won the film’s only Oscar for best original song score and its adaptation or adaptation score
And “The World According to Garp” earned a supporting actor nomination for John Lithgow as a transgender ex-football player named Robert. Glenn Close, in her film debut, earned her first of eight Oscar nominations for the film.
Best actress went to Meryl Streep as a concentration camp survivor with a dark secret in “Sophie’s Choice.” Streep was pregnant with her daughter and future actress Mamie Gummer. Costa-Gavras and Donald E. Stewart won best screenplay based on material from another medium for “Missing.” Foreign language film honors went to Spain’s ‘To Begin Again” and “Just Another Missing Kid” won the documentary feature Oscar.
Bob Hope presented Mickey Rooney with honorary Oscar “in recognition of his 50 years of versatility in a variety of memorable film performances.” Charlton Heston gave the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to legendary Academy Award-winning producer Walter Mirsch, who died Feb. 24 at the age of 101.
Though the presenters included several young stars such as Matt Dillon, Kristy McNichol, Steve Guttenberg, Elizabeth McGovern, Eddie Murphy and Nastassja Kinski, the golden age was well represented with Luise Rainer, Jane Russell, Cornell Wilde, Robert Mitchum, Philip Dunne and Billy Wilder handing out statuettes. Carol Burnett presented best picture.
And Peter Allen, Bernadette Peters and the Academy Awards Chorus performed a tribute to one of the greatest songwriters Irving Berlin, who was then 94. Surprisingly, Berlin only won the best song Oscar once for ‘White Christmas” from 1942’ “Holiday Inn.”
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