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Oscars ‘Daily Bite’: 1967 Academy Awards strike settled hours before telecast

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in a scene

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in a scene from the 1966 movie "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Credit: Sunset Boulevard / Corbis

It was the Academy Awards that almost wasn’t.

The 1967 Oscar ceremony was nearly canceled because of a strike — settled just three hours before the telecast — involving the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. The incident gave host Bob Hope plenty of material for his opening monologue. “What tension, what drama, what suspense. And that was just deciding whether the show was going on or not,” he quipped.

The night’s big winner was “A Man for All Seasons,” which won six awards including best picture, director and actor (Paul Scofield), followed closely by “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” which won five Oscars, including best actress (Elizabeth Taylor) and supporting actress (Sandy Dennis). As it turned out neither actress attended the ceremony.

Taylor’s competition for best actress included Lynn Redgrave (“Georgy Girl”) and Vanessa Redgrave (“Morgan!”), only the second time two siblings went against each other for that award. (“Hold Back the Dawn” star Olivia de Havilland lost the best actress Oscar to her sister, Joan Fontaine, for “Suspicion” in 1941.)

Other highlights of the 1967 Oscarcast included a standing ovation for actress Patricia Neal, who made her first appearance at the Oscars after recovering from a debilitating stroke in 1965; an impromptu dance by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers before they presented the writing awards; and Mitzi Gaynor’s energetic rendition of best song nominee “Georgy Girl,” often cited as one of the Oscars’ finest production numbers.

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