On April 2nd, 1974, just as David Niven was about to introduce Elizabeth Taylor so that she could announce that The Sting had won Best Picture of the year, the Oscar telecast was interrupted by a naked man running across the stage.
The streaker was a man named Robert Opel. A former student activist who had reportedly briefly worked as a speechwriter for future President Ronald Reagan, Opel was employed as a teacher when he made his Oscar debut. He lost his job as a result but he found a new fame as a professional streaker. He also went on to open his own photography business and ran for President in 1976. His slogan was reportedly, “Not Just Another Crooked Dick.” Five years after making his television debut, the 39 year-old Opel was murdered in his apartment.
There’s some debate as to whether or not this was actually a spontaneous moment. It’s been reported that Niven wrote down his famous quip about short comings during a rehearsal. It’s also interesting to note that the camera seemed to be perfectly positioned to not catch anything that could actually get the broadcast fined by the FCC. If this had been truly a spontaneous event, I’m not sure that would have been the case.
Anyway, that was 1974 for you. Who knows what might happen tonight?
(Of course, there’s no host so, if something does happen, there won’t be any quips. Oh well.)