The 12th Academy Awards were held on Thursday, February 29, 1940, and were hosted by comedian and actor Bob Hope. The ceremony was held at the Ambassador Hotel at the Coconut Grove in Los Angeles, California. This was an exciting time because 1939 had been the year when classic movies such as “Gone With the Wind”, “The Wizard of Oz”, and “Wuthering Heights” were released.
Other top movies which came out that year were “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” starring James Stewart and Jean Arthur, for fans of the western “Stagecoach” starring John Wayne and “Destry Rides Again” starring James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich, “Ninotchka” starring Greta Garbo, the horror classic “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” starring Charles Laughton, “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” starring Robert Donat and Greer Garson, and “Dark Victory” starring Bette Davis.
This was the last year that the winners were announced before the ceremony in the Los Angeles Times. Since then the winners have always been kept a secret. “Gone With the Wind” swept away with a total of eight Academy Awards.
And the top winners were:
Best Picture: Gone With the Wind
Best Actor: Robert Donate (“Goodbye, Mr. Chips”)
Best Actress: Vivien Leigh (“Gone With the Wind”)
Supporting Actor: Thomas Mitchell (“Stagecoach”)
Supporting Actress: Hattie McDaniel (“Gone With the Wind”)
Director: Victor Fleming (“Gone With the Wind”)
Song: “Over the Rainbow” (“The Wizard of Oz”)
As you can see that year it was surely difficult to decide on the winners because from the list of movies that came out that year most of the actors and actresses deserved to be nominated or to win. I have to say that Vivien Leigh was really to be admired for portraying Scarlett O’Hara and making the character come to life. She actually won against such tough competition. The other nominees for Best Actress that year were Bette Davis, Irene Dunne, Greta Garbo, and Greer Garson. Also hats off to Hattie McDaniel for keeping Scarlett in line as Mammy a performance which will not be forgotten.