Who is the Oscars statue modelled on?

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As the most important date on the Hollywood calendar, the Oscars are to reward the best and brightest individual talents and collective collaborations cinema has offered over the previous 12 months.

Every aspiring actor and filmmaker dreams of winning an Academy Award, with the statue itself recognisable the world over. Having been around for close to a century, everybody knows what the Oscars are and what they look like.

However, what’s lesser-known is who they look like, with the iconic trophy far from being a generic recreation of a human body. There’s a real-life inspiration there, but it’s one that often goes unmentioned when the buzz for the annual event begins to build.

Being the person immortalised forevermore as the literal embodiment of on-screen and behind-the-scenes greatness is a unique accolade, one that ensures a legacy that’s destined to endure for as long as the moving image continues to exist.

Who is the Oscar statue modelled on?

Although it’s never been officially confirmed, it’s widely believed the Oscar statue carries the likeness of Emilio Fernandez, a Mexican actor and filmmaker known by the nickname of ‘El Indio’, who told the world he was the inspiration behind the trophy, and it’s telling that nobody within the industry disagreed.

Fernandez directed 43 movies, was credited as a screenwriter on 40, and notched almost 100 on-camera credits, but his professional work has comfortably become the lesser part of his legacy. At the beginning of his career, he met fellow actor Dolores del Rio, who was dating MGM’s chief art director Cedric Gibbons at the time.

As Fernandez explained, Gibbons wanted a model who was suitably statuesque, with del Rio subsequently introducing the pair. ‘El Indio’ ended up posing nude for the sketches that would serve as the basis for the Oscars statue, and it can’t be said the ‘Golden Baldie’ doesn’t reflect the star’s distinct jawline and presence in its miniature, shinier form.

Emilio Fernandez - Mexican Actor - 1935 - Janitzio

(Credits: Far Out / Fundación Televisa Archivo División Fílmica)

What is the Oscar statue made of?

With the exception of prioritising resources during World War II, the composition of the Oscar statue has largely remained the same since the very first edition.

Each individual prize is made of solid bronze and plated in 24-carat gold, but in the period between 1939 and 1945, they were built from plaster and painted gold to maintain the illusion of prestige.

However, once the war had ended, anybody who’d won an Oscar in the interim was invited to trade their plaster version for the real thing, an offer that the majority of winners would have been quick to accept to add some extra lustre to their trophy cabinets.

What is the Oscar statue holding?

At least 99 out of 100 people would immediately recognise an Oscar if they were asked to pick it out of a line-up, but those numbers might drop if they were tasked to identify what the statue was holding.

The Oscar depicts a knight standing on a reel of film while holding a crusader’s sword to represent the winner being celebrated as a crusader of the industry, while the reel contains five spokes.

Those five are reflective of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ initial five branches covering actors, directors, producers, technicians, and writers. If additional spokes were added each time a new category was brought to the ceremony, then quite frankly, it would look a little ridiculous.

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