Oscar Statuette Modeled After Mexican Director

The smoothly muscular, golden silhouette of an Oscar statuette wasn't just based on anyone. It was actually modeled in 1929 after the nude body of a Mexican director.

Filmmaker, screenwriter, and actor Emilio Fernandez, nicknamed "El Indio," fled Mexico for Los Angeles in the 1920s, exiled after supporting a failed revolutionary uprising led by Adolfo de la Huerta.

Working in Hollywood, Fernandez befriended Mexican actress Dolores del Rio, then wife of studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's art director and Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences member Cedric Gibbons. Del Rio introduced Fernandez to Gibbons, who was in charge of supervising the statuette's design.

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Gibbons asked Fernandez to pose in the buff for a sketch to create the basis for the 8.5-pound trophy. Reluctantly, Fernandez did, and the design became the foundation for artist George Stanley's famous sculpture of the statuette, given out at the very first Academy Awards in L.A. in 1929.

That design remains to this day.

Fernandez acted in dozens of movies. He directed more than 40 films, including "Maria Candelaria," starring del Rio, which won the Grand Prix prize for best feature film at the 1946 Cannes International Film Festival. He passed away in 1986.

The 84th annual Academy Awards, honoring films in 24 categories, airs Feb. 26 on ABC.

Yahoo! Contributor Network writer Solvej Schou is a Los Angeles-based journalist with more than a decade of experience, from hourly breaking news to entertainment and lifestyles features. Solvej's stories for The Associated Press, as a staffer and then as a freelancer, have been published by hundreds of websites. Her work appears in the Los Angeles Times and other outlets and she is a fill-in producer for public affairs talk shows "Patt Morrison" and "AirTalk" on NPR affiliate KPCC 89.3 FM in Los Angeles. Follow her on Twitter at @solvej_schou.