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Explanations for the Academy Awards’ ‘Oscars’ Nickname

Coverage of The 84th Annual Academy Awards®

Ever wonder why Academy Award statuettes and the show are referred to as Oscars? You're not alone. There are two popular theories, and one includes a famous film star who took credit.

The first explanation involves Academy librarian Margaret Herrick. According to legend, Herrick, who would later become the Academy's executive director, remarked that the statuette looked just like her uncle Oscar. The ceremony's official site, writes, "The Academy didn't adopt the nickname officially until 1939, but it was widely known enough by 1934 that Hollywood columnist Sidney Skolsky used it in a piece referring to Katharine Hepburn's first Best Actress win."

The other theory involves iconic actress Bette Davis, who apparently claimed she named the statue after her first husband, Harmon Oscar Nelson Jr. However, according to Bette Davis Online, Davis "later withdrew that claim."

Whoever named him, Oscar has become one of the most powerful figures in Tinseltown. He's only 13.5 inches tall and weighs just 8.5 pounds, but the statue can make careers and bring in big bucks at the box office for winners.