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.
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.
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.
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.
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.