The Closest a Past Oscars Came to a Snafu Like This

There was a flub, just not quite like this, in 1964
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 27, 2017 7:33 AM CST
The Closest a Past Oscars Came to a Snafu Like This
Jordan Horowitz, producer of "La La Land," shows the envelope revealing "Moonlight" as the true winner of best picture at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Presenter Warren Beatty looks on from right.   (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

The Huffington Post on Friday published what ended up being a prescient article: "What Would Happen If A Presenter Announced The Wrong Winner At The Oscars?" After listing all the reasons why this should never happen—tabulating firm PricewaterhouseCoopers has checks and balances in place to seemingly make sure it doesn't—it tacked on a footnote, about the one time it kinda almost did. In 1964, Sammy Davis Jr. named the winner of one of two music score categories: best scoring of music—adaptation or treatment. The Los Angeles Times reports he declared John Addison the winner, for Tom Jones. Except that's not the category Addison had been nominated in. Addison was in truth the winner of best music score—substantially original, and Davis had been given the wrong envelope.

As Vox points out, the flub wasn't the same thing as the La La Land/Moonlight mix-up, because the categories didn't share the same set of nominees. Addison got his Oscar, as did the true winner of the adaptation or treatment category, Andre Previn for Irma la Douce. "Wait'll the NAACP hears about this!" joked Davis as PricewaterhouseCoopers brought him the correct envelope. Of course, one of the greatest flubs of all harks back to 1939: In the early days, newspapers were given the names of the winners in advance, on the condition that publication follow the actual ceremony. But in 1939, the Los Angeles Times published the winners, among them Gone With the Wind for best picture, before the ceremony had started. Secret envelopes were introduced the following year. Read more on how this year's blunder happened. (More Oscars stories.)

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