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Factbox-Facts about the Oscars

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is presenting its 81st annual Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

entertainment Updated: Feb 23, 2009 08:44 IST

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is presenting its 81st annual Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

The world's top film honors are given out annually by the Beverly Hills-based Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Here are some facts about the Oscars:

Early days:

-- When the first Academy Awards were handed out on May 16, 1929, movies had just begun to talk. The first ceremony took place in the Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

-- The best actress and actor awards went to Janet Gaynor for "Seventh Heaven" and Emil Jannings for "The Last Command."

-- The Warner Bros. film "The Jazz Singer" was honored with a special award as the "pioneering outstanding talking picture, which has revolutionized the industry." The Academy had ruled that it was ineligible for competition for best picture because it was thought it would be unfair to let sound films compete with silents.

1939 AND "GONE WITH THE WIND":

-- 1939 was one of the most celebrated years in American film history, encompassing such classics as "The Wizard of Oz," "Stagecoach," "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," "Ninotchka," "Wuthering Heights" and "Goodbye, Mr. Chips."

-- "Gone with the Wind," director Victor Fleming's almost four-hour blockbuster film, was the longest feature released up to that time, and it was the major Oscar winner of the year. It was also the first color film to win for best picture.

-- The film earned 13 nominations and won eight competitive awards (and two special citations) -- both records for the time. It would hold that record until "Gigi" (1957) won nine Oscars.

-- Both lead acting awards were presented to British performers -- for the first time in Academy history. Newcomer Vivien Leigh won for her portrayal of Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone with the Wind," and Robert Donat won for his title role in "Goodbye, Mr. Chips."

MOST AWARDS:

-- The 1959 epic "Ben Hur" set an Academy Award record by winning 11 Oscars, a benchmark matched nearly four decades later by the 1997 blockbuster "Titanic," which reaped 11 awards from 12 nominations. 2003's "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" also won 11 Oscars from 11 nominations.

-- U.S. actress Meryl Streep holds the record for most acting nominations, 15 including for 2008's "Doubt," and she has won twice. Katharine Hepburn earned 12 nominations but won four times. Ingrid Bergman is next with three Oscars. Jack Nicholson is the most nominated male star with 12 nominations and three wins. Walter Brennan also won three, but from only four nominations.

2008:

-- Last year's lead-acting Oscars were won by Daniel Day-Lewis in "There Will Be Blood" and Marion Cotillard who played French songstress Edith Piaf in "La Vie en Rose."

-- Joel Coen and Ethan Coen won best director for "No Country For Old Men," which also won the best picture award.