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How the Oscars have changed in 90 years

Actress Janet Gaynor accepts a merit trophy from

Actress Janet Gaynor accepts a merit trophy from actor Douglas Fairbanks, president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences on May 16, 1929, for her performance in "7th Heaven." Credit: AP

He may be turning 90, but that golden guy known as Oscar looks exactly the same. The same can’t be said for the Oscar ceremony, which has grown in both prestige and in length over nine decades.

THE GUEST LIST A mere 270 people attended the $5 black-tie dinner at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on May 16, 1929. By comparison, more than 3,300 folks filled the Dolby Theatre last year.

TOTAL AWARDS While 24 Oscars will be presented on March 4, only 12 awards were handed out the first time — along with 20 honorable mention certificates and two special awards.

TWO DIRECTIONS The initial ceremony featured two best director categories — one for drama and one for comedy. It was also the only year that all of the honorees were silent films.

NO SURPRISES The names of the inaugural winners had been revealed to the press three months earlier. Sealed envelopes containing the winners’ names weren’t instituted until 1941.

LENGTH In a matter of 15 minutes, all of the awards and speeches were handed out at the first event. At three hours and 49 minutes, last year’s festivities were the fifth-longest ever.

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