For 9 decades, the Oscars have been an important part of American life. As I’ve said on this site many times, Oscar Sunday is as much of an unofficial holiday as Super Bowl Sunday. For many of us, the new year doesn’t even begin until the morning after the Oscars.
However, some of the most memorable Oscar winners didn’t even exist! The Academy Awards have been used as a plot device in any number of movies. Here are four of my favorite fictional Oscar winners:
- Johnny Fontane (Al Martino) in The Godfather (1972)
Oh, Johnny Fontane. He had such a good singing career going until he started to lose his voice. But, fortunately, there was a part for him in an upcoming picture. As Johnny explained it, the part was a guy just like him. “I wouldn’t even have to act.” The only problem was that studio head Jack Woltz didn’t want to give him that role.
It’s a good thing that Johnny had a Godfather like Vito Corleone. And it’s a good thing that the Godfather had a lawyer like Tom Hagen, a lawyer who didn’t mind arranging for a horse to be beheaded. Khartoun may not have survived but Johnny Fontane got his part and his Oscar.
(Johnny’s adventures at the Oscars are detailed in all their loving glory in Mario Puzo’s novel. Perhaps not wanting to harm its own Oscar chances, the film left out the majority of Johnny’s Hollywood adventures.)
2. Margaret Elliott (Bette Davis) in The Star (1953)
“C’mon, Oscar! Let’s get drunk!”
Listen, you may think that winning an Oscar means that you’re set for life but often, the exact opposite is true. Winning an Oscar has killed many a career. They even have a name for it: The Oscar Curse.
Take Margaret Elliott for instance. She won an Oscar. And now, just a few years later, she’s broke, drunk, and deeply in denial. Can her daughter (Natalie Wood) convince Margaret that it’s time to stop drinking and admit that fame is a hideous bitch goddess? Or will Margaret continue to get drunk with her Oscar staring at her in judgment?
3. Vicki Lester (Judy Garland) in A Star is Born (1954)
Sadly, Vicki is better remembered for what happened during her acceptance speech than for the speech itself. When her husband, notorious alcoholic Norman Maine (James Mason), took the stage and struck his wife while drunkenly motioning, it shocked Oscar watchers everywhere. But Vicki never stopped loving him and, after his tragic death, she let the world know that, “This is Mrs. Norman Maine.”
4. Jerilee Randall (Pia Zadora) in The Lonely Lady (1983)
“I don’t suppose I’m the only one whose had to fuck her way to the top.”
Greatest fake Oscar acceptance speech ever!