People have been calling Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the 94th Academy Awards the ‘darkest moment in Oscars history’. However, the award ceremony is littered with controversial and much darker moments, just like the racist treatment of Hattie McDaniel.
On Sunday, March 27, Rock was on stage to present an award. However he made a joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith’s hair – the star suffers from alopecia – and the camera then panned to Jada and Will Smith.
Smith was seemingly laughing but he then walked up on the stage and proceeded to slap Rock. There was a brief moment when Smith sat down and shouted at the comedian. Since then people have been calling it the ‘ugliest’ or ‘darkest’ moment in Oscars history. But that simply isn’t true.
The Treatment Of Hattie McDaniel
Hattie McDaniel starred in the iconic movie Gone With The Wind, for which she was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress award. This meant she was the first black actor to be nominated for an Academy Award.
However, things got ugly when it came to the actual Oscars ceremony. The Twelfth Academy Awards took place at the Coconut Grove Restaurant of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles which, at the time, had a strict ‘no blacks’ policy (disgusting, I know). So McDaniel wasn’t actually going to be allowed to attend and was only admitted as a ‘favour’ to the film’s producer, David O. Selznic.
Things got worse at the ceremony when McDaniel wasn’t allowed to sit with her co-stars – including Olivia de Havilland, who was nominated for the same award for the same film. Instead she was placed at a small table in the back of the room with just her escort and her agent.
This treatment carried on after the ceremony when her white co-stars went to a club, where McDaniel was also denied entry.
Another black woman wouldn’t win an Oscar again for 50 years when Whoopi Goldberg was named Best Supporting Actress for her role in Ghost.
John Wayne Tried To Stop Sacheen Littlefeather
In 1973 Marlon Brando boycotted the Oscars due to the treatment of Native Americans in the film industry and instead sent Native American actress and activist Sacheen Littlefeather to refuse his Best Actor award, won for his role in The Godfather, on his behalf. Some people applauded Littlefeather. Others booed.
During Littlefeather’s time on stage John Wayne was reportedly waiting in the wings and tried to rush the stage to remove her. She told the Guardian: ‘During my presentation, he was coming towards me to forcibly take me off the stage, and he had to be restrained by six security men to prevent him from doing so.’
Seth MacFarlane’s Sexist Song
When Seth MacFarlane hosted in 2013 he didn’t hold back with his sexism. The Family Guy creator made a joke about Rihanna’s experiences with domestic violence and made a horrible joke about nine-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis almost being old enough to date George Clooney.
He completed his horrible hosting by singing and dancing to his own musical number called ‘We Saw Your Boobs’ – during which he called out a list of actresses who had done nude scenes in their films.
Roman Polanski’s Oscar Applause
In the late 1970s, to avoid sentencing after pleading guilty to unlawful sex with a minor, Roman Polanski fled the US for a life in Paris.
In 2003, Polanski won the Best Director award for The Pianist – despite his offence – and even received a standing ovation from the audience.