Format Hardcover
Publication Date 01/15/11
ISBN 9781605981376
Trim Size / Pages 9.4 x 6.4 in / 336

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Bringing Up Oscar

The Story of the Men and Women Who Founded the Academy

Debra Ann Pawlak

The untold story of the innovative pioneers who helped make movies the preeminent art form of the twentieth century by founding the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The founders of the now infamous Academy were a motley crew as individuals, but when they first converged in Hollywood, then just a small town with dirt roads, sparks flew and fueled a common dream: to bring artistic validity to their beloved new medium.

Today, movies are so ingrained in our culture it is hard to imagine a time when former cowpunchers, prospectors, vaudevillians, even junk dealers made up the rules as they went along. Prohibition and the Great Depression were keeping everyone on edge, and the business was rife with murders and drug scandals. Something had to happen. And so on January 11th, 1927, thirty-six members of Hollywood's elite and not-so-elite came together at the behest of MGM chief Louis B. Mayer. From Cecil B. DeMille to Mary Pickford, Harry M. Warner, who owned a bike shop before launching the revolutionary “talkie” The Jazz Singer, even Joseph M. Schenck, freed from jail just in time to discover Marilyn Monroe—each guest was more colorful than the last. Although they didn’t know it yet, these thirty-six achievers and dreamers gave birth to a golden child.

Who were these movers and shakers who would change movies forever? And what about Oscar, their famous son? He is fast approaching his 100th birthday, and is still the undisputed king of Hollywood. Yet with such dynamic parents, what else could we expect?

Debra Ann Pawlak has spent over ten years writing about Hollywood history and is a frequent contributor to The Mediadrome. She is the author of Farmington and Farmington Hills, for Arcadia’s “Making of America” series, and has written a screenplay about Clara Bow. She lives in southeastern Michigan.

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Endorsements & Reviews

“[This] fast-paced, light look at an epoch in film history will be of interest to those seeking a quick read or a starting point on the mythology of old Hollywood.” Library Journal
“Pawlak traces the lives of the 36 key figures in the cinema community who launched the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1927, the same year talkies arrived with The Jazz Singer. By skillfully weaving such highlights of Hollywood history throughout this Tinseltown tapestry, Pawlak succeeds in recreating that colorful era when flickers turned into features and silents converted to sound.” Publishers Weekly