There’s no way around it: The colossal screw-up at Sunday night’s (Feb. 26) Oscars that resulted in La La Land being handed the best picture award intended for Moonlight was a whopper. But it wasn’t the first time a presenter read the wrong name at the show.
Sure, back in 1964 there was no Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or any other social media that would GIF-ify and meme Sammy Davis Jr.’s embarrassing moment, but rest assured, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, it happened before.
Back then, Davis Jr. got his hands on the wrong envelope and announced that the winner for best music score — adaptation or treatment was going to John Addison for his work on the Albert Finney British comedy Tom Jones. In that case, Jones wasn’t even nominated, so Beatty and Dunaway can take some solace in that.
The whole thing was quickly sorted out though, when Addison threw up his hands in confusion and Davis Jr. walked hurriedly back up to the podium and stammered, “they gave me the wrong envelope… wait til the NAACP hears about this,” which got a big laugh as the Rat Packer patiently, (and somewhat nervously) waited for a tuxedoed Oscars staffer to bring out the correct envelope.
“Putting on his reading glasses,” Sammy quipped, “I ain’t gonna make no mistake this time,” and announced the real winner, Andre Previn, who won for his work on the music to the Shirley MacLaine/Jack Lemmon musical comedy Irma La Douce.
Check out footage of the original Oscars flub: