The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in 1927 held in the Crystal Ballroom of the Biltmore a meeting to discuss goals. They wanted a way to honor outstanding achievements to further the quality of the industry, to encourage others to reach higher at all levels. Many meetings followed, one of which saw MGM art director Cedric Gibbons sketch a figure of a knight gripping a sword in front of a reel of film. The five spokes of the reel stood for the original five branches of the academy: actors, directors, producers, technicians and writers. The sword was the protector of the welfare and advancement of the industry. This was the original design for the award. Los Angeles sculptor George Stanley in 1928 was chosen by Gibbons to make this design come to life. After several versions were discussed the now iconic statue was given birth between this collaboration.
Since then over 3,000 statuettes have been presented each January hand cast in bronze by New York-based Polich Tallix Fine Art Foundry before receiving their 24-karat gold finish by Epner Technology, a renowned high tech electroplating company out of Brooklyn. The statue is 13-1/12 inches tall and weights 8-1/2 pounds. The original design has never varied, except the base has changed until the present standard was adopted in 1945. It was officially named The Academy Award of Merit, then nicknamed The Oscar. The original of this name are not clear. Legend has it an Academy librarian and then later executive director Margaret Herrick though the statue looked like her Uncle Oscar and thus nicknamed it so. Academy star then began calling the statue Oscar. By the sixth Academy Awards in 1934 Sidney Skolsky, a Hollywood writer of the time known for articles like Hollywood Is My Beat, referenced the statue Oscar in his article on Katharine Hepburn’s first Best Actress award for 1933’s Morning Glory. Later the bronze and gold plated Oscar was replaced with Britannia metal and pewter-like alloy which gave Oscar a smooth finish. During WWII’s metal shortage, Oscar was made of painted plaster for three years. Following the war and metal shortage Oscar returned in gold-plated form and is still in that form today.