[Ads-l] Oscar

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue Feb 28 02:25:38 UTC 2023

Various dummies that were named "Oscar" were mentioned in these 2019
messages: (tackling dummies, ventriloquist dummy, sound engineer


I offered the highly speculative conjecture that someone referred to
the Academy Award statuette as "Oscar" because of its resemblance to a
small dummy or mannequin. Perhaps the person was a Hollywood sound
technician familiar with the high-profile experiments with the Oscar
audio dummy. Admittedly, there is no direct evidence for this

Peter Reitan offered a valuable counterpoint perspective:

Also, Peter mentioned the sound engineer dummy in his excellent round-up:


On Mon, Feb 27, 2023 at 6:14 PM Peter Reitan <pjreitan at hotmail.com> wrote:
> In addition to “Osacar” for oscillations, there was also an actual mannequin/dummy called Oscar, with microphones where ears would be, used in testing and research for stereo recording and movie sound reproduction.
> I have a discussion and pictures of the dummy on my blog post about Oscar.
> I also discuss Oscar Smith’s career and speculation that he was the original Oscar.  His great-grand daughter claimed to have heard rumors that it was true.
> https://esnpc.blogspot.com/2019/02/envelope-please-unwrapping-oscars.html
> Sent from Mail<https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=550986> for Windows
> From: dave at wilton.net<mailto:dave at WILTON.NET>
> Sent: Monday, February 27, 2023 2:33 PM
> Subject: Re: Oscar
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "dave at wilton.net" <dave at WILTON.NET>
> Subject:      Re: Oscar
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> =0AOn his Big Apple website, Barry Popik suggests that Oscar may come from =
> an industry slang term for oscillations, in reference to sonic or electro-m=
> agnetic waveforms. Popik found a 1931 glossary with the term. Also, he note=
> s that Emmy is a variation on Immy, short for "image orthicon," and Oscar c=
> ould have followed a similar path.=0A =0A1931 was the first year that the A=
> cademy gave out its Scientific and Technical Awards, and several of the fir=
> st awards were for innovations in sound engineering. The timing is right, a=
> nd it's plausible that Oscar could have originated in the technical film co=
> mmunity with these first technical awards=E2=80=94back then the S&T awards =
> were given out at the same banquet as the artistic ones. But it's still a h=
> ypothesis with no real evidence to support it.=0A =0A =0A-----Original Mess=
> age-----=0AFrom: "Bill Mullins" <amcombill at HOTMAIL.COM>=0ASent: Monday, Feb=
> ruary 27, 2023 12:32pm=0ATo: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU=0ASubject: [ADS-L] Osca=
> r=0A=0A=0A=0AI have no real evidence to support this, but here=E2=80=99s a =
> possible explanation for =E2=80=9COscar=E2=80=9D:=0A=0A=0A=0A=0A=0A1933 Hol=
> lywood Filmograph 22 Apr 3/1=0A=0AThe bootblacking business being rather du=
> ll at the Paramount studios, Oscar Smith packed up his polishing kit and to=
> day moved over to Fox Movietone City.=0A=0AOscar, who has polished up more =
> stars than Father Time, plays the role of a porter in "The Power and the Gl=
> ory," a Jesse L. Lasky production being directed by William K. Howard.=0A=
> =0AOscar is perhaps one of the most astute business men in the movie indust=
> ry.=0A=0AWhen polishing shoes isn=E2=80=99t so renumerative, he takes to ac=
> ting and vice versa. Betwixt the two professions he waxes ebullient and sto=
> ut.=0A=0A=E2=80=9CThe Power and the Glory=E2=80=9D marks the return of Coll=
> een Moore to the screen. Others featured are Spencer Tracy, Ralph Morgan an=
> d Helen Vinson.=0A=0A=0A1933 Photoplay Magazine Nov. 88/2=0A=0AOSCAR, the c=
> olored Paramount bootblack, is the idol of Central Avenue, the colored dist=
> rict of Los Angeles. Oscar played a small bit in "Gambling Ship." When the =
> picture opened on Central Avenue it was billed like this:=0A=0A"Sensational=
>  star in 'Gambling Ship,' Oscar supported by Cary Grant, Jack La Rue and Be=
> nita Hume."=0A=0AAnd on the outside of the theater, nothing but pictures of=
>  Oscar appeared.=0A=0A=0A=0A1935 Motion Picture August 59/1=0A=0AA white ma=
> n, who operates a shop in Los Angeles' Chinatown, is always sought when the=
>  studios require Chinese talent. He keeps a list of all the Chinese. Also h=
> e acts as technical adviser in Chinese films. Oscar, the Paramount bootblac=
> k, acts in the same capacity for the Negroes of Central Avenue and can furn=
> ish colored talent for anything from a Harlem Easter parade to a native sce=
> ne in darkest Africa.=0A=0A=0AOscar Smith's photo is here:=0Ahttps://archiv=
> e.org/details/photo33chic/page/n350/mode/1up?view=3Dtheater=0A=0A----------=
> --------------------------------------------------=0AThe American Dialect S=
> ociety - http://www.americandialect.org
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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