Cedric Gibbons, who was a native of Dublin, Ireland, was the designer of the Oscar statuette. Officially called the Academy Award of Merit, the Oscar is awarded in recognition of excellence in cinematic achievements. Gibbons was also a founding member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Austin Cedric Gibbons was born in Dublin in March 1893. His father Austin Gibbons was an architect. Austin Gibbons and his wife Veronica moved with their family to New York when Cedric was young. Cedric studied at the Art Students League of New York where Walter Lantz the creator of Wood Woodpecker was also a student. Cedric worked for a time as a draughtsman in his father’s architectural business. By 1915 he had started working as a set designer with Edison Studios in New York. In 1924 he became head director for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), a position he held for 32 years until he retired in 1956.
During his career with MGM Cedric Gibbons was credited with creating the sets for around 1,500 films. However the bulk of this work may have been in a supervisory role, as his contract stated that he be named head of design for all MGM films. He was ‘hands-on’ art director for 150 films. Gibbons was responsible for fundamentally changing the manner in which studio production was done and is regarded as having had a major influence on film design.
Cedric Gibbons was one of a group of thirty six people who founded the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on May 11th 1927. He was given the task of designing a special award. His design of a knight holding a sword standing on a reel of film was accepted. The gold plated statuette, called an Oscar, has remained essentially the same to this day.
The first ever Oscars award ceremony was held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, Los Angeles, California on May 16th 1929. During his career Cedric Gibbons was nominated for an Oscar 39 times, winning on 11 occasions. He was married on two occasions, in 1930 to Dolores del Río and to Hazel Brooks in 1944. His nephew Billy Gibbons plays the guitar and is a vocalist with the band ZZ Top.
Cedric Gibbons was born in Dublin, Ireland in the year 1893 On This Day.
Image from page 27 of “Bank rate and the money market in England, France, Germany, Holland, and Belgium, 1844-1900;” (1903)