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There are some actors you just love to see on screen. Those actors you just know will deliver a great performance, no matter what. Thelma Ritter is one of those people. You see her name in the credits, and you think, fantastic, we’re in good hands! Ritter, like Walter Brennan, Thomas Mitchell or Fay Bainter is one of the great character performers of Hollywood’s Golden Age. But, unlike Brennan, Mitchell or Bainter, Thema Ritter never won an Academy Award. She was nominated 6 (SIX!) times, which makes her one of three women to be nominated, in any category, that many times without a win, along with Deborah Kerr and Amy Adams (all three of them are surpassed by Glenn Close), as well as the most nominated actress in the Supporting category without a win – I love these Oscar tidbits!

Thelma Ritter’s quick wit, delivery, comic timing and heart made her one of the most versatile actresses of her generation. I mean, All About Eve (1950, dir. Joseph L. Mankiewicz), Rear Window (1954, dir. Alfred Hitchcock) AND Birdman of Alcatraz (1962, dir. John Frankenheimer)? Come on! She received her six nominations over the course of twelve years: All About Eve was the first, which she lost to Josephine Hull for Harvey (1950); then came The Mating Season (1951), which she lost to Kim Hunter for A Streetcar Named Desire (1951); then, With a Song in My Heart (1952), which I wrote about here. Gloria Grahame took the Oscar for The Bad and The Beautiful (1952); her last nomination in a row was for a movie I adore, Pickup on South Street (1953), which she lost to Donna Reed for From Here To Eternity (1953). A few years later, she was nominated again for Pillow Talk (1959). This time, Shelley Winters won it for The Diary of Anne Frank (1959); her last-ever nomination was for Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), and she lost to Patty Duke for The Miracle Worker (1962). Her career lasted decades, across many genres, and despite never winning an Oscar, her movies live on. Also, she’s one of the best people to do an impression of. Try it, it’s really fun!

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15 of Bob Hope’s best Oscars jokes

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Here we are again, Oscar season and isn’t that exciting! The thing is, I’ve posted about all things Oscars every February/March/April, these past 8 years and I thought I was running out of ideas. Until I went back on one of my posts, the one where I foolishly thought I could go up against Bob Hope with silly jokes, and realized… I haven’t written about Bob Hope yet! As we all know, he has hosted the Oscars a record 19 times and to put it into context, Billy Crystal (whom I adore) is in second place, with 9. So, Bob Hope really was the Oscars. And so I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite jokes from his many, many opening monologues. And for the record, I’ve included one George C. Scott joke, but I love ALL of Bob Hope’s jokes about Scott, pre and post-Patton. I’ve also dispensed with the Bing Crosby jokes and all the movies that are supposedly about him (‘Sons and Lovers’, ‘The Babymaker’, etc), because there are so many of them, it would be hard to pick just one; likewise, I also haven’t included the many things the ceremony is known as in Bob Hope’s house (‘Passover’, ‘Cape Fear’, ‘The Fugitive’, etc…) because, again, too many.

Here they are, in chronological order:

‘It (3D) is the biggest thing to hit the movies since Cecil B. DeMille began re-writing the Bible.’ 1953 – Ahh, when 3D was a new thing… What I love about this is, you can make the same joke about DeMille today and most people would probably still get immediately.

There is a special award for bravery for the producer who made a picture without Grace Kelly.’ 1954 – This was Grace Kelly’s year: Rear Window, Dial M for Murder and, of course, The Country Girl, for which she won the Oscar.

Some of the pictures were grim, but what realism. In fact, I’m surprised to see Susan Hayward here tonight.’ 1959. This only works if you’re familiar with I Want to Live! (1958), for which Hayward won an Oscar that night.

Mr William Wyler, will you please see the cop out front, your chariot is double parked.’ 1960 – William Wyler, of course, won the Best Director Oscar that night for Ben-Hur.

This was the year Marlon Brando became the director of a Western. It was the first picture ever made with Method horses.’ 1960 – Splendid.

We all know how Jack Lemmon got in there, lending his apartment to members of the Academy.’ 1961. You know why I love this joke.

Mary Poppins, or how I learned to stop worrying and love Jack Warner.’ 1965. Easily one of the best written jokes he ever did at the Oscars.

But isn’t it exciting? All over America, people are saying to each other, ‘I wonder who’ll win?’, and all over Beverly Hills, psychiatrics are dusting off their couches saying ‘I wonder who’ll lose’. 1965 – This is a dark one that I just adore.

This is the big night. What tension, what drama, what suspense. And what was just deciding whether the show was going on or not.’ 1967 – This is a reference to the fact that there was a strike that was resolved only thirty minutes before the show started.

Ladies and Gentlemen, before I begin, I have an announcement. After much soul-searching, I have concluded that the awesome job of emcee should not become involved in partisan bickering. At all costs, we must preserve unity and avoid further divisiveness in our great industry. Accordingly, I have decided that I will not seek nor will I accept an Oscar.’ 1968 – One of the best self-deprecating jokes he’s ever made.

What a fine turnout for the awards this year. So crowded, Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice had to sit in the same seat.’ 1970. If you know the film Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, this is a wonderful joke.

How about those Swedish movies? When they shoot outside the bedroom, it’s called going on location.’ 1970 – Damn.

Patton was the story of a man who wanted to win the war, but not the Oscar’ 1971. Self-explanatory. One of the best.

‘I think The Godfather Part II has an excellent chance of winning. Neither Mr Price or Mr Waterhouse have been heard from in four days.’ – 1975 Oscars – Godfather jokes will always be funny.

He (Fred Astaire) got it for Towering Inferno. You know, it’s easy to dance good when the floor below you is on fire.’ 1975 – This is seriously one of my all-time favourites. Makes me laugh every single time.

What are your favorites? Happy Oscars!

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