What it was like to go the Oscars in 1958, and what it’s like today…

March 26, 1958:

1958 Oscars at Pantages

The 30th Academy Awards were big for David Lean and “Bridge on the River Kwai” and for an actress named Joanne Woodward who toted home a statue for her performance in “The Three Faces of Eve”. On her big night out Miss Woodward wore an evening gown of her own making after she had spent the day at Paramount having her hair dyed and styled. After the awards she andΒ  her husband, Paul Newman, stopped at a grocery store to pick up some celebratory beer on their way to the Governors Ball… Or, so the story goes.

These days hair and makeup come to your home. A limo arrives at three in the afternoon to take you to the Dolby Theater on Hollywood Blvd. which has been closed to through traffic. The limo has a fully stocked bar. Once you reach Hollywood Blvd. you might have had a glass or two of champagne, which makes the traffic jam of Town Cars jockeying for position fascinating. Walking down the red carpet, if you are in the wake of a star, you will see cameras, and handlers, and press in a tightly orchestrated blitz of high glamour PR. If you’ve been nominated you are riding an adrenaline wave – and everything looks sparkling new…

Let’s walk inside. The Dolby Theater (formally the Kodak) was built for the express purpose of hosting the awards. It is state of the art. Seating arrangements vary, but usually you are seated with fellow nominees in your category. If your name is called you have only three minutes (total) to get from your seat to the stage, find your notes β€” or regain your thoughts, and deliver your speech. It goes by in one explosive heartbeat.

Afterwards there’s dinner and dancing at the Governors ball, and if you’re carry a golden statue that’s all the invitation you need for the after parties. You’ll probably glide into bed between two and three in the morning, exhausted, elated, and probably harboring a cold.



  1. I watched it in bed with my daughter, Lily — lots of fun and such gorgeous dresses.
    I hate that the one producer of Argo, took it upon himself to accept the award first, taking all of Ben Affleck’s time – the director for pete sake! Having a string of producers accepting awards for best picture or Play (they now do this in the theater world, too) is such a grabby, needy, look at me moment. Lately, I’ll confess, I’ve been soured on much of the hoopla. It’s refreshing to see it all through your eyes, V. You’ve made it a little more exciting for me this year.
    Maybe one day we’ll be on the red carpet together? Now that would be rich. πŸ˜‰
    Thanks for re-creating the experience – right down to the Spanx!
    Do get some rest. xoxo

    • My eyes are open, but I feel like my head is stuffed with “cotton, hay, and rags”. I loved what Mr. Affleck had to say (wonderful and heartfelt), Daniel Day Lewis (eloquent), Rick Carter (who won for Production Design), and Ang Lee (gratitude and dignity) – the uniting element was they all told a story, a lovely anecdote… Nicely, nicely, done.
      Now, if we marched down the red carpet for your tell all memoir and my roman Γ  clef that would be something. I’ll dream on that tonight.

  2. The Academy Awards are the only good thing about February. I make sure to request a personal day from work if my schedule does not jive (this year I traded shifts with someone so that I can be home in time). All of my dreams come together and shine on Oscar night. I will be in my pj’s on my huge red velvet couch, with mega-snacks and red wine. Can’t wait! I’m pulling for “The Imitation Game” because I love Benedict Cumberbatch. Haven’t actually seen any of the movies up for awards except “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (loved it!), but I treat the awards as a great way to get in-depth previews of the movies I would like to see. Can’t wait!

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