“Reminds me of my uncle Oscar.” Legend has it that this was the phrase he uttered Margaret Herrick On seeing the small statue of the Hollywood Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Although this is the most common version to explain the origin of the noun, it is not the only one. Part-time actress Bette Davis The etymology is credited with arguing that it is inspired by her husband’s second name (although no one named him Oscar). journalist Sydney Skolsky He also got his share of glory in this episode. He was the first to write “Oscar” in a newspaper on March 16, 1934.
Now, according to an investigation he conducted Bruce Davis, Academy Executive Director between 1981 and 2011, for his book on the history of the awards, the real person in charge of the name was Eleanor LillbergWho was responsible for collecting the statues in the forge where they were made and taking them to the Foundation’s headquarters.
This entire episode, which never stops being entirely narrative, marginalizes Margaret Herrick’s career, which was vital for the awards to become the standard it is today. This is nothing that makes one think that she has been called on for such an adventure. Herrick was a librarian.
Born in 1902 in Spokane, a city near the Canadian border, she studied libraries at the University of Washington, and upon graduation found work at the public library in Yakima, a modest city near her birthplace.
Her life changed when she married Donald Gladehill in 1931. The husband found work as an assistant to the executive secretary of the Academy and the spouses moved to him Hollywood. Herrick also entered the institution, where he began to deal with administrative matters, but his knowledge of library science caught the attention of his superiors. In 1936 it was officially named Librarian of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
At the same time her husband was climbing the sites until he arrived Executive Director. In 1942, Gledhill is called up to fight in World War II and is replaced by Herrick. In theory, when the conflict is over, he should leave office, but just the opposite happened. In 1945 she was shown to him permanently, and she kept her until his retirement in 1971. It is easy to recognize her in photographs of that time because she is the only woman who usually appears in the photographs.
From that moment on, he was a major figure in the entity’s business. In 1953, for example, Margaret Herrick was the one who led negotiations with TV networks to acquire Live broadcast of the concert Awards ceremony. Until then, the party was just a dinner followed by the radio stations. In the process, he had to conquer the reluctance of the big movie studios that saw television as the main competitor and enemy (in a similar way to what is happening now with Netflix and other streaming platforms).
Additionally, he also had a vision to export this event overseas. Herrick was a major supporter of the Create a Best Foreign Language Film Category, An award that did not initially exist and for years was merely an honorary recognition. Not only that, but he was directly involved in the process Internationalization of the Oscars. Between 1963 and 1968 he toured around the world to visit the major film institutions on the planet.
Margaret Herrick remained active until she was 69, when she retired. Nevertheless, the academy appointed her an honorary director, a position she held until the time of her death in 1976.
So if you follow the Oscars, don’t forget to dedicate a memory to the librarian who turned the awards ceremony into one of the biggest media events of the year.
When she retired, in recognition of her career, the Academy decided to give its name to the library that she had established herself during her early years at the institution and which she had always taken care of. The Margaret Herrick Library, based in Beverly Hills, is one of the world’s leading cinematic themed bookstores.