This was the year in which Jack Palance turned an Oscar acceptance speech into an uproarious display of his physical agility. While accepting his Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for City Slickers he fumbled through a few scattered thoughts about the history of his career and the age problem for actors.
Then, at a loss for words he flopped down on the floor and began doing a series of one-handed push-ups. Afterwards when he was asked about the stunt he simply said, "I didn't know what the hell else to do".
Audrey Hepburn presented an honorary award to Indian film legend Satyajite Ray who was bedridden in his home in Calcutta. It was originally planned to have Mother Theresa present the award but the idea was dismissed because the producers felt it would be inappropriate to have the elder humanitarian mingling amidst the Hollywood glitz.
Due to safety concerns, the crew aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis, who delivered a congratulatory message to Thalberg recipient George Lucas via a large viewscreen, taped their message earlier in the week. It was broadcast on the show as if it were being shown live.
Beauty and the Beast became the only animated feature film to be nominated for Best Picture.
When 100 year-old film pioneer Hal Roach was honored the show's producers decided to have him give his acceptance speech from his seat. However, he didn't have a microphone and, not realizing this, proceeded to speak anyway. The home audience (and 95% of those in the auditorium) watched him speak though they heard nothing. The gaffe was quickly covered by host Billy Crystal who jibed "I think that's appropriate because Mr. Roach started in silent films".
The program won 3 Emmy Awards forOutstanding Costume Design for a Variety or Music Program,Outstanding Music Direction andOutstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program.
A week before the awards, host Billy Crystal developed a cold that by awards night had turned into the flu. Show producer Gil Cates suggested getting a replacement but Crystal wanted to go on anyway. For his performance, he would receive some of the best reviews of his career plus an American Comedy Award and an award from the Television Critics Association.
Silence of the Lambs became only the third film in history to win Oscars for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay. It happened previously to the 1934 Frank Capra comedy It Happened One Night and Milos Forman's 1976 comedy drama One Flew Over the Coo Coo's Nest
Silence of the Lambs became the first film to win Best Picture that was already on home video by the time the award was presented.
Laura Dern and Diane Ladd became the first mother and daughter ever nominated in the same year. Dern was nominated for Best Actress and Ladd for Best Supporting Actress, both for Rambling Rose.
Audrey Hepburn presented an honorary award to Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray. Both would die within the year.
The 61st Annual Academy Awards
After an elaborate stage performance of "Be Our Guest" from Beauty and the Beast, as the performers dressed as large Disney characters from the film were leaving the stage, host Billy Crystal commented "Is Allan Carr producing the show again?" This is a reference to the producer of The 61st Annual Academy Awards who has become infamous for his embarrassing, overproduced Rob Lowe/Snow White production number that opened that show.