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The Oscars (Academy Awards) Hosts: Past & Present, Plastered & Pleasant

By Dudepins @dudepins

The Oscars is Hollywood’s chance to celebrate excellence in their own field with a ceremony now in its 85th year. But steering the ship each time is the host, who sets the tone and ushers us through. With Seth MacFarlane taking the reins this year for the first time, Dudepins took a look at some standout hosts of years gone by, what made them great, and maybe a peek at what can happen when you don’t quite get it right….


The Oscars (Academy Awards) Hosts: Past & Present, Plastered & Pleasant


Bob Hope

A truly classic Oscars host, Hope holds the record for the most number of Oscars hosted (18 times!) by an individual, and was the host of the first ever televised Oscars. Always stylish and classy, Hope’s history as a Vaudeville performer gave him the quick wit and confidence that shone on stage and endeared him to audiences for decades. A true master of ceremonies, his playful ribbing of the assembled Hollywood elite is a tradition that continues today


Johnny Carson

Carson follows the same pedigree as Hope, having been a broadcaster and performer for years in radio and television, he stepped into the role with ease and brought his charming and relaxed rapport to his Oscars hosting duties. The long-time host of the Tonight Show brought the same humor and popularity to hosting the Oscars as he did his own show, to great success, seeing him invited back another four times.


Billy Crystal

Billy Crystal is probably the most recognisable Oscars host for anyone under the age of 40. Having hosted 10 times and having introduced the “Best Picture Medley” song tradition during his monolog (something other hosts since him have done), Crystal is probably the most popular host in the last 30 years. Another long time performer and comedian (Are you seeing the trend?) his wit and confidence have made many a long Oscars broadcast infinitely more enjoyable and brought to us many lasting Oscars memories.


Whoopi Goldberg

Whoopi Goldberg made history when she was not only the first African American person to host the Oscars, but also the first woman to host the Oscars by herself (women had co-hosted since the earliest days of the show). She broke the ‘boy’s club’ barrier of Oscar hosting, but, being a comedienne from way back, she knew it still needed what it always had: charm and humor. She delivered in spades and kept the show light, no small feat as that year Schindler’s List was heavily featured in the nominations and media buzz.


Jon Stewart

Stepping into the big shoes of some heavyweights of past Oscars shows (see above!) Stewart swung his irreverent sense of humor all over the room and the audience, both in the crowd and at home, loved it. Like the best hosts, he understood that the combination of respect for the job at hand and balancing it with having fun is what makes a good show and a good host, two things he’s become a master at over the years of his career and skills he brought to the Oscars.


Seth MacFarlane

In a move touted by many as an attempt to draw in a younger crowd to the Oscars, Seth MacFarlane will be hosting the 2013 Oscars on Sunday the 24th of February. He has presented awards and done live stage performances in a variety of arenas but none so hallowed as the Oscars. He is an inspiration to many, having built an empire on humor and irreverence, two things mentioned in this article that are vital ingredients to a successful show and a successful host, only time will tell, hopefully the decision to skew for a younger audience doesn’t have the same results as when James Franco and Anne Hathaway hosted (see below).


And what would an Oscars roundup be without a couple of not so excellent examples?


Chris Rock

The largest criticism levelled at Chris Rock for his hosting in 2005 was that he had failed to raise ratings and that his hosting style was more of the irreverence, but very little of the respect. The respect didn’t need to be for the Oscars themselves, but for the job at hand, and the people involved. Rock poked what some felt was slightly too much fun at fellow actors and strayed off topic and into stand-up routine material.


James Franco & Anne Hathaway

A lot has been said about this duo. The most obvious issue with the entire vibe of the performance is that James Franco looked… ‘Tired’. There’s been speculation that he was either bored or on some sort of substance, drunk, possibly exhausted, jet lagged, the list goes on. Either due to comparative energy, or an active attempt to lift things from monotonous and flat, Anne Hathaway seemed manic and over-excited, like a child who’d been given far too much sugary drink. Again, it came down to the fact that at least one half of the team had no respect for the job they were doing, or if they did, it certainly didn’t come out on stage.

It has been argued that James and Anne were chosen to host to appeal to a younger demographic (Hathaway playfully winks at this in the opening lines of their monologue). Perhaps younger isn’t better without the benefit of experience in taking on the responsibility of hosting the whole show.


That’s a wrap! Don’t forget to watch the Oscars 2013 and let us know what you thought of it. In the mean time, have a look at

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