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An anonymous man received an Academy Award. He showed up on stage and received the award for Alice Brady, who couldn’t attend the ceremony, and was never seen again …

Tijana Radeska
Alice Brady

Alice Brady was one of the surviving actors of the transition from silent movies to talkies. Even though she died soon after it, she did manage to play in a talkie and to won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1937.

Alice Brady in 1916

Alice Brady in 1916

Even though Brady was sick with cancer, she played the role of Catherine O’Leary in “In Old Chicago.” The same year she played in “My Man Godfrey” and both her performances were nominated for Academy Awards. She won the award for “In Old Chicago.” Due to her illness, she couldn’t attend the Academy Award presentation dinner.

Theatrical release poster

Theatrical release poster. Photo credit

At the dinner, when Brady was asked on stage, an unknown man got up and received the plaque (statuettes were not awarded for the Supporting categories until 1943) on Brady’s behalf. This wasn’t uncommon situation – whenever an actor was unable to receive the prize personally, someone else got it for them.

 

Alice Brady won for her performance in 1937's In Old Chicago.

Alice Brady won for her performance in 1937’s In Old Chicago.

Soon after he took Brady’s oscar, the organizers realized that none of them knew the man, neither was any of them expecting anyone to receive Brady’s award. The man and Brady’s plaque were never seen again. It looks like when you want an Oscar, all you have to do is wait patiently and then go on stage and get yourself one. However, the Academy presented Brady with a new, replacement plaque.

Hattie McDaniel won in 1939 for her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind, thus becoming the first black performer to win an Oscar

Hattie McDaniel won in 1939 for her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind, thus becoming the first black performer to win an Oscar

Besides Brady’s, there are a number of interesting situations surrounding the Oscars. Hattie McDaniel’s 1939 Oscar for Supporting Actress is missing for over 40 years. And then, in 1990 Whoopi Goldberg’s Oscar for Supporting Actress was sent out for cleaning but later found in a trash bin.

Maybe it’s just something to do with the Supporting Actress category.

Tijana Radeska

Tijana Radeska is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News