Tuesday, February 25, 2014

From the Oscar Trenches:
"Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe?"

One in a series

A veteran campaign consultant recalled this incident at the 1967 Academy Awards ceremony:

I worked on the campaign for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf.” It got nominations in every category for which it was eligible, only the second film to achieve that. (“Cimarron” was the other.)

The anticipation was heavy on awards night, to say the least. All of the stars and filmmakers were present, except for Sandy Dennis, who played Honey, the fragile, neurotic wife of George Segal. She had stayed in New York and had arranged for Mike Nichols to accept her award should she win.

Of course, she won for Best Supporting Actress. Nichols took the Oscar, gave a brief 16-second acceptance speech on her behalf, then quickly walked off the stage. I was standing in the wings. As soon has he saw me, he thrust the statuette in my hands. “Here," he said. "Take this. It’s bad luck for me!”

And it was, for while the film won five Oscars that evening, the Best Director award went not to Nichols but to Fred Zinneman for “A Man for All Seasons.”

It turned out to be a temporary bump in the road for Mike. The very next year he won for "The Graduate,” his first and only Academy Award. 

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