Stealing the Show: An Investigation Into Three Academy Awards

Olivia Rutigliano, University of Pennsylvania

This paper was part of the 2013-2014 Penn Humanities Forum on Violence. Find out more at


What began as a tiny dinner party in 1928, the Academy Award has become the film industry's most famous celebration, now capable of monitoring pop culture's transformation into nostalgia. I am interested in studying three aggressive ruptures in this tradition – specifically, three criminal cases regarding stolen Academy Awards: the cheeky, public theft of Alice Brady's 1937 award, the burglary of Vivian Leigh's 1951 award during a home invasion, and the 1960's Civil Rights protests surrounding the disappearance of Hattie McDaniel's 1939 award. In this project I analyze how, as exemplified by these violations, the Academy Awards has become a platform for violent takes on various aspects of Hollywood's legacy.


Date Posted: 17 November 2016