51st Academy Awards

51st Academy Awards
51st Academy Awards.jpg
Official poster
DateApril 9, 1979
SiteDorothy Chandler Pavilion
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Hosted byJohnny Carson
Produced byJack Haley Jr.
Directed byMarty Pasetta
Highlights
Best PictureThe Deer Hunter
Most awardsThe Deer Hunter (5)
Most nominationsThe Deer Hunter and Heaven Can Wait (9)
TV in the United States
NetworkABC
Duration3 hours, 25 minutes[1]
Ratings46.3 million[2]
34.6 (Nielsen ratings)[3]

The 51st Academy Awards ceremony, organized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), honored films released in 1978 and took place on April 9, 1979, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles beginning at 7:00 p.m. PST / 10:00 p.m. EST. During the ceremony, AMPAS presented Academy Awards (commonly referred to as Oscars) in 22 categories. The ceremony, televised in the United States by ABC, was produced by Jack Haley Jr. and directed by Marty Pasetta.[4] Comedian and talk show host Johnny Carson hosted the show for the first time.[5] Three days earlier in a ceremony held at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California, on April 6, the Academy Awards for Technical Achievement were presented by hosts Gregory Peck and Christopher Reeve.[6]

The Deer Hunter won five awards including Best Picture.[7] Other winners included Coming Home with three awards, Midnight Express with two awards, and The Buddy Holly Story, California Suite, Days of Heaven, Death on the Nile, The Flight of the Gossamer Condor, Get Out Your Handkerchiefs, Heaven Can Wait, Scared Straight!, Special Delivery, Superman, Teenage Father and Thank God It's Friday with one.

Ceremony

The ceremony, held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Downtown Los Angeles, California, was hosted by late night talk host Johnny Carson for the first time.[8] Jack Elliott and Allyn Ferguson served as musical directors for the telecast.[9] Singers Sammy Davis Jr. and Steve Lawrence performed a medley called "Oscar's Only Human" which was composed of movie songs that were not nominated for Best Original Song.[10] Initially the Academy's music branch protested that the segment be dropped from the ceremony, but it was kept intact after Haley threatened to leave his position as producer and pull Carson from emcee duties.[11]

It was also remembered for being the final public appearance of Oscar-winning actor John Wayne, where he was given a standing ovation before presenting the award for Best Picture.[12] On June 11, two months after the ceremony, he died from complications from stomach cancer at age 72.[13] This was also the final public appearance for Jack Haley, presenter of the Best Costume Design with his Wizard of Oz co-star Ray Bolger as well as the father of the producer, as he died on June 6 of that year.

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