I don’t have much to say about the 2020 Oscar nominees, since I haven’t seen most of the movies up for the big awards. So, in preparation for Oscars Week, I looked back into Academy Award history. All the way back to the initial Oscar ceremony in 1929.
To my supreme delight, I found this little nugget: according to Susan Orlean, in her 2011 biography of the silent film star (and German Shepherd), Rin Tin Tin received the most votes for Best Actor, but the Academy refused to award the canine because they feared it would make the fledgling institution look silly and unimportant.
I want to hug and a kiss that story on the Eiffel Tower lawn. It’s too goddamn perfect. A bunch of Hollywood big shots start an award ceremony just to bestow some phony prestige on their movies, but they respect the art of acting so little they vote for a freakin’ dog.
This too perfect story has a too perfect kicker. Instead of Rin Tin Tin, the Academy gave the trophy to Emil Jannings. Jannings is the stereotypical Serious Actor who went on to win accolades for playing heroic figures in World War II. Except for one difference…
… his characters fought for the other side. After his career in America slowed down, Hollywood’s golden boy worked for years as Goebbels’s personal muse in Nazi war propaganda (Hitler was reportedly a big fan).
To save the reputation of the award, the Academy stole the Oscar from a dog and gave it to a Nazi. It’s like stealing the MVP from Air Bud to hand it to OJ Simpson.
I truly wanted to believe it. In the time since Orlean’s book release, the story has been picked up by the Guardian, Deadline, The Hollywood Reporter, and other mainstream outlets. She’s an accomplished author. She wouldn’t write it without some kind of evidence, right?
Alas, she did. It’s just old Hollywood gossip. The early Oscar ballots were publicly available and, because god is dead and life is pain, zero Academy members voted for Rin Tin Tin.
With this dream crushed, my only hope is that one of RTT’s descendants is dropping a hot turd on that Nazi fuck’s Walk of Fame star right now.
Note: Seriously. A Nazi got a star on the Walk of Fame… in 1960…and it’s still there. Get your shit together, Hollywood.