How Television Changed the Oscars

TIME

It was, as TIME put it in 1953, a bit of a shotgun wedding: old-time Hollywood and his “child bride” television, as Bob Hope phrased it, had already effectively gotten together, and it was too late to go back. They made it official that year by introducing TV viewers to the Oscars, with the first-ever broadcast of the annual Hollywood ceremony.

The budget for the telecast of the 25th Academy Awards was a quarter of a million dollars, and veteran host Hope was chosen to MC the night from Los Angeles. And it was clear from the beginning that television would change things for the Academy Awards:

To the movie fans outside Hollywood’s RKO Pantages Theater, the show looked familiar: klieg lights crisscrossing the wet night sky and Cadillacs disgorging jeweled and ermined cargoes. But inside the palace, surrounded by TV cameras, zoomar lenses, floodlights and monitoring screens, the 2,800…

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