I took part in a trivia night last week, an annual event organised by the company I work for. Our team came a respectable sixth out of twenty five teams, but as always with these things a couple of questions really got under my skin.
In the Entertainment round, one of the questions was Which individual has won the most Oscars (28 in total)?
Now I should know this sort of thing. Ask me about which film has won the most, or which actor or actress has won the most, or even which three films have won all five major Oscars, and I’ll answer spot on, but this one had me stumped.
The rest of my team immediately suggested famous actors. I knew it wouldn’t be this – most actors do one thing and one thing only, with a small handful of people spreading their talents to directing or producing. Somebody else suggested Hitchcock, but if there’s one thing I do know, it’s that the Academy famously snubbed Hitch (he was nominated five times for Best Director, never winning, and only won once for Best Picture with 1940’s Rebecca).
Somebody else suggested Weta Workshop, Peter Jackson’s special effects studio – as New Zealanders love to talk about their own accomplishments, so the quiz writers could have put this in purposefully – but the question did state ‘individual’, and anyway, if it had been Weta Workshop all of New Zealand would know about it (and I’m sure a long-standing effects house like ILM would have won more craft Oscars than a relative newbie like Weta).
It had to be a producer, I thought, somebody who would spread their mark over a number of projects or even take the credit for the work of others. The mention of Hitchcock led me to think of Hitchcock’s American producer before he broke away and signed with Universal. But what the hell was his name? A big name producer, the kind of man with a name as big as the movies he made.
Hitchcock’s producer, Hitchcock’s producer, damn, what was his name? This reminded me of the time I started my GCSE History exam question on the development of the assembly line and mass production, looked at the question and immediately pulled a blank on the name of Henry Ford. Without remembering his name, I couldn’t tackle the question and had to resort to answering the alternative question instead.
What the hell was Hitchcock’s producer’s name? At any other time, I’d be looking on my phone for the answer, but they tend to frown on that sort of thing when you’re in the middle of a pub quiz. I had to rely on my failing memory instead.
Of course, if I had remembered David O. Selznick’s name, it would have been wrong anyway. He only won two Oscars for Best Picture (Rebecca and Gone With The Wind).
The answer – the individual who won the most Oscars – was Walt Disney of course; all for short films and documentaries. Everybody around the table kicked themselves, and we moved onto the music round, which we aced.
Just like I had predicted with my original idea around a producer taking the credit for the work of somebody else, I wonder if Walt had won his Oscars fair and square? Maybe it was a case of – to paraphrase a joke – What’s the difference between Walt Disney and Bing Crosby? Bing Crosby gives credit to others, but Walt Disney.
Hit: The Haunted And The Haunters (The Pirate’s Curse)
Hidden Gem: Johnny Takes A Dare (The More The Merrier)