How Oscar Got His Name

Popular American award shows are some of the most anticipated annual events, drawing huge audiences around the world. Whenever somebody mentions the Oscars or the Golden Globes, most people can immediately form a mental picture of the awards. However, not many people know about the history of the names behind these awards.


Presented by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences every year, the Academy Awards honor actors, directors, and writers for their achievements in film. Originally named the “Academy Award of Merit,” it somehow acquired the nickname “Oscar,” and since 1939, people have affectionately referred to the Academy Awards as Oscars. However, it’s not so clear how the name came into existence. A popular account has Bette Davis calling her 1935 Academy Award for Best Actress “Oscar” after she found out that the “O” in her husband’s name was actually “Oscar.” However, Walt Disney had earlier used the term to refer to his Academy Award in 1932, and an article about the 1934 Academy Awards appearing in TIME magazine also mentioned the term “Oscar.” The term could also have originated from Margaret Herrick, the Academy librarian, who proclaimed how much the gold-plated naked knight statuette resembled her “Uncle Oscar,” when she first looked at it in 1931.


The Emmy awards are television’s Oscars. They are presented annually by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Initially, Syd Cassyd, founder of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, wanted to name the award “Ike” after a television iconoscope tube. As the name would inevitably be linked with General Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower, they backtracked and settled on “Immy,” which referred to the image-orthicon camera tube. To match the statuette featuring a woman with wings holding an atom, “Immy” became “Emmy.”


The Grammies are given for outstanding achievements in the field of music. Presented by the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences every year, the award features a small scale gilded gramophone player. Before cassettes, CDs, and mp3 players were invented, there was the gramophone. It made sense that the academy named the highest awards in music as the Gramophone Awards. Later, it became known as the Grammy Awards.


The Tony Awards, otherwise known as the Antoinette Perry Awards for Excellence in Theatre, are given for outstanding achievements in live American theatre. Presented annually by the American Theatre Wing and the Broadway League, the award is represented by a medallion showing the dramatic and comedic masks, normally associated with theatre. After Antoinette Perry passed away in 1946, the award was named after her in memory of her contributions to theater. As well as the co-founder of the American Theatre Wing, Perry was also an accomplished actress, director, and producer of a number of Broadway hits. As her nickname was Tony, logically, the awards came to be known as the Tony Awards.

Golden Globe

The Golden Globes are given for excellence in entertainment, covering domestic and foreign films and television. Presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association every year, the award depicts a globe with a strip of film spiraling around it. The name of the award was derived from the statuette. The idea came from Marina Cisternas, President of the Hollywood Foreign Correspondents Association in 1945-46.