The Academy and the Award: The Coming of Age of Oscar and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Bruce DavisE-book: $39.95
For all the near-fanatic attention brought each year to the Academy Awards, the organization that dispenses those awards—the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences—has yet to be understood. To date, no one has ever produced a thorough account of The Academy’s birth and its awkward adolescence, and the few reports on those periods from outside have always had a glancing, cursory quality. Yet the story of the Academy’s creation and development is a critical piece of Hollywood’s history.
Now that story is finally being told. Bruce Davis, executive director of the Academy for over twenty years, was given unprecedented access to its archives, and the result is a revealing and compelling story of the men and women, famous and infamous, who shaped one of the best-known organizations in the world. Davis writes about the Academy with as intimate a view of its workings, its awards, and its world-famous membership. Thorough and long overdue, The Academy and the Award fills a crucial gap in Hollywood history.
With a discerning eye and a wealth of experience, Bruce Davis transforms what could have been dry and academic into an erudite and witty saga. He buries a number of myths and rumors surrounding the Oscars, and reveals how the organization survived its chaotic early years. THE ACADEMY AND THE AWARD is a major contribution to Hollywood history—and a great read.
—Leonard Maltin, film critic and historian
Wide ranging in his objective perspective, but always humanly intimate, Davis examines the in-house records of the Board of Governors, memos of its Presidents, and letters from the Academy’s more activist members, with much added flavoring and gossip. Davis’s seminal history of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences reads with all the honed stagecraft and drama of an Oscar nominated screenplay.
—John Bailey, cinematographer, Academy President 2017-2019
In this entertaining, well-researched history, Bruce Davis traces how a marginal organization that teetered on the brink of bankruptcy for years became a major cultural institution that awards a coveted prize.
—Charles Solomon, Author of The Man Who Leapt Through Film
There are few people who know (and can explain) the inner machinations of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, but if anyone can do it, Bruce Davis is that man. I am thrilled that there is finally a serious history of the organization and the people behind it, with names that you'll recognize and those you won't. This is the definitive history of the Academy: it deserves a place on one's shelf, or inside one's Kindle. Mr. Davis’s magnum opus is essential reading for any serious cinephile.
—Robert Harris, Motion Picture Archivist
With the skill and wit of a great story teller, Bruce Davis transports us into the secret boardrooms filled with powerful moguls and charismatic stars, the screenwriters and directors, the cinematographers and visionary scientists who frame-by-frame crafted the movies into the art form we cherish today. Here is the fascinating tale of how the coveted golden statuette of Oscar almost wasn’t and came to be. How I wish I had known this history when I joined the Academy. Pure magic!
—Kathy Bates, Oscar recipient, past Academy Governor
I recommend this book to everyone who loves the movies and the Oscars!
—Walter Mirisch,, Academy President 1973-1977
This wonderful book is often funny, sometimes shocking, and always incredibly informative as we get the inside story at the Academy, from its humble beginnings at the Biltmore, to today.
—Ed Begley, Jr., Actor, past Academy Governor
A fond look at the genesis and growing pains of the world’s foremost film organization.
Bruce Davis joined the Academy staff in 1981, after serving as Theater Department chair at Juniata College. He was the organization's Executive Director for twenty years, overseeing the establishment of one of the world's great film archives and finding handsome new quarters for the Academy's Herrick Library. Davis has described his tenure as "thirty years among the masters of an art form." He lives in Los Angeles.