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The Oscars

Freeze Frames: Politics take the stage

March 23, 2003|Susan King

The 50th Year

When: April 3, 1978

Where: The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

Host: Bob Hope

Winners: Best picture: "Annie Hall"; best actress: Diane Keaton for "Annie Hall"; best actor: Richard Dreyfuss for "The Goodbye Girl"; best supporting actor: Jason Robards for "Julia"; best supporting actress: Vanessa Redgrave for "Julia"; best director: Woody Allen for "Annie Hall"

Milestones: Several former Oscar winners and stars from the golden age of Hollywood were assembled as presenters for the 50th anniversary telecast, including William Holden and Barbara Stanwyck, who first starred together in 1939's "Golden Boy," Joan Fontaine, Kirk Douglas, Greer Garson, Eva Marie Saint, Natalie Wood, Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, Fred Astaire, Stanley Kramer and Paddy Chayefsky. Even Janet Gaynor, the first best actress winner, was on hand to present the best actress award to Keaton. Other former Oscar winners including Ernest Borgnine, Louise Fletcher and Burl Ives appeared in the opening sequence. Notably missing from the proceedings was best director and screenwriter Allen, who eschewed the ceremony to keep his regular Monday evening gig playing the clarinet at Michael's Pub in New York.

The anniversary hoopla almost took a back seat to politically charged atmosphere. Outside the Chandler Pavilion, approximately 75 members of the Jewish Defense League protested the pro-Palestinian Redgrave. Not to be outdone, an estimated 200 PLO members and friends demonstrated in support of the political Redgrave. Because of the explosive situation, the actress arrived incognito at the stage door in an ambulance surrounded by bodyguards. When Redgrave won her best supporting actress Oscar, she elicited boos from several members of the audience when she stated, "I think you should be very proud that in the last few weeks you've stood firm and you have refused to be intimated by the threats of a small bunch of Zionist hoodlums whose behavior is an insult to the stature of Jews all over the world and their great and heroic struggle against fascism." Despite the gasps and boos during her speech, Redgrave and presenter John Travolta walked off the stage to a round of applause. Outside the Chandler, though, Redgrave was burned in effigy.

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