On This Day in History: May 16

In this day in 1929, the first Academy Awards by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) were presented at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel to an audience of 270 people. The tickets were $5 and the ceremony lasted 15 minutes and the only ceremony that was not broadcast on the radio or, later, television.

The “Oscars”, as they were known later, were presented by the first AMPAS President, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and director William C. deMille for outstanding achievement in the film industry for 1927 and 1928. It was no surprise to the winners or the public since the winners had been announced 3 months prior. The talking films were eliminated for consideration because it was felt that they would have an unfair advantage .

And the Winners were:

Outstanding Picture, Production: Wings

Outstanding Picture, Unique and Artistic Production: Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

Best Director, Dramatic Picture: Seventh Heaven – Frank Borzage

Best Director, Comedy Picture: Two Arabian Knights – Lewis Milestone

Best Actor in a Leading Role: Emil Jannings – The Last Command as August Schiller and The Way of All Flesh as General Dolgorucki

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Janet Gaynor – Seventh Heaven as Diane, Street Angel as Angela  and Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans  as The Wife

Best Writing, Original Story: Underworld – Ben Hecht

Best Writing, Adapted Story: Seventh Heaven – Benjamin Glazer

Best Cinematography: Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans  – Charles Rosher and Karl Struss

Best Art Direction: The Dove and Tempest – William Cameron Menzies

Best Engineering Effects: Wings – Roy Pomeroy

Best Writing, Title Writing: (No specific film) – Joseph Farnham

Honorary Awards:

   Charles Chaplin, “For versatility and genius in acting, writing, directing and producing The Circus”.

   Warner Brothers Production, “For producing The Jazz Singer, the pioneer outstanding talking picture, which has revolutionized the industry”.


1204 – Baldwin IX, Count of Flanders is crowned as the first Emperor of the Latin Empire.

1527 – The Florentines drive out the Medici for a second time and Florence re-establishes itself as a republic.

1532 – Sir Thomas More resigns as Lord Chancellor of England.

1568 – Mary, Queen of Scots, flees to England.

1717Voltaire is imprisoned in the Bastille

1770 – 14-year old Marie Antoinette marries 15-year-old Louis-Auguste who later becomes king of France.

1771 – The Battle of Alamance, a pre-American Revolutionary War battle between local militia and a group of rebels called “The Regulators”, occurs in present-day Alamance County, North Carolina.

1822 – Greek War of Independence: The Turks capture the Greek town of Souli.

1836 – Edgar Allan Poe marries his 13-year-old cousin Virginia.

1843 – The first major wagon train heading for the Pacific Northwest sets out on the Oregon Trail with one thousand pioneers from Elm Grove, Missouri.

1849New York City establishes hospital for cholera victims: The New York City Board of Health is finally able to establish a hospital to deal with a cholera epidemic that, before it ends, kills more than 5,000 people.

1861 – Tennessee officially admitted to the Confederacy

1863Battle of Champion’s Hill, Mississippi: The Union army seals the fate of Vicksburg by defeating the Confederates at the Battle of Champion’s Hill. General Ulysses S. Grant had successfully run the Confederate gauntlet at Vicksburg and placed the Army of the Tennessee south of the stronghold, the Rebels’ last significant holding on the Mississippi River.

1866 – The U.S. Congress eliminates the half dime coin and replaces it with the five cent piece, or nickel.

1866 – Charles Elmer Hires invents root beer.

1868President Andrew Johnson is acquitted in his impeachment trial by one vote in the United States Senate.

1910 – The United States Congress authorizes the creation of the United States Bureau of Mines.

1914 – The first ever Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final is played. Brooklyn Field Club defeats Brooklyn Celtic 2-1.

1918The Sedition Act of 1918 is passed by the U.S. Congress, making criticism of the government an imprisonable offense.

1919 – A naval Curtiss aircraft NC-4 commanded by Albert Cushing Read leaves Trepassey, Newfoundland, for Lisbon via the Azores on the first transatlantic flight.

1920 – In Rome, Pope Benedict XV canonizes Joan of Arc as a saint.

1943 – Holocaust: The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising ends.

1948 – Chaim Weizmann is elected the first President of Israel.

1951 – The first regularly scheduled transatlantic flights begin between Idlewild Airport (now John F Kennedy International Airport) in New York City and Heathrow Airport in London, operated by El Al Israel Airlines.

1960 – Nikita Khrushchev demands an apology from U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower for U-2 spy plane flights over the Soviet Union thus ending a Big Four summit in Paris.

1960 – Theodore Maiman operates the first optical laser, at Hughes Research Laboratories in Malibu, California.

1965 – The Campbell Soup Company introduces SpaghettiOs under its Franco-American brand.

1966 – The Communist Party of China issues the ‘May 16 Notice’, marking the beginning of the Cultural Revolution.

1969 – Venera program: Venera 5, a Soviet spaceprobe, lands on Venus

1974 – Josip Broz Tito is re-elected president of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. This time he is elected for life.

1975 – India annexes Sikkim after the mountain state holds a referendum in which the popular vote is in favour of merging with India.

1975 – Junko Tabei becomes the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

1983 – Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement rebels against the Sudanese government.

1986 – The Seville Statement on Violence is adopted by an international meeting of scientists, convened by the Spanish National Commission for UNESCO, in Seville, Spain.

1988 – A report by United States’ Surgeon General C. Everett Koop states that the addictive properties of nicotine are similar to those of heroin and cocaine.

1992 – STS-49: Space Shuttle Endeavour lands safely after a successful maiden voyage.

2003 – In Casablanca, Morocco, 33 civilians are killed and more than 100 people are injured in the Casablanca terrorist attacks.

2004 – The Day of Mourning at Bykivnia forest, just outside of Kiev, Ukraine. Here during 1930s and early 1940s communist bolsheviks executed over 100,000 Ukrainian civilians.

2005 – Kuwait permits women’s suffrage in a 35-23 National Assembly vote.


1921 – Harry Carey, Jr., American actor, 89

1929 – John Conyers, American politician, 81

1931 – Lowell P. Weicker, Jr., American politician, 79

1951 – Christian Lacroix, French fashion designer, 59

1953 – Pierce Brosnan, Irish actor, 57

1955 – Olga Korbut, Belarussian gymnast, 55

1955 – Debra Winger, American actress, 55

1959 – Mare Winningham, American actress, 51

1964 – Boyd Tinsley, American violinist (Dave Matthews Band), 46

1966 – Janet Jackson, American singer, 44

1966 – Scott Reeves, American actor and singer, 44

1966 – Thurman Thomas, American football player, 44

1969 – David Boreanaz, American actor, 41

1969 – Tucker Carlson, American television commentator, 41

1969 – Tracey Gold, American actress, 41,

1973 – Tori Spelling, American actress, 37

1986 – Megan Fox, American actress, 24


  1. This feature is always so interesting.  

    Sometimes it could be easy to wonder if anyone looks at these.

    Too bad there is no way to give you ponies, but please consider this comment as the best available equivalent.

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