×

Sammy Davis Jr. Was Given the Wrong Envelope at the 1964 Oscars (Watch)

Perhaps Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty can find some solace in the fact that they weren’t the only presenters in Oscars history to get it wrong.

53 years before the “Bonnie and Clyde” duo incorrectly announced the winner for best picture on Sunday night after being handed the wrong envelope, Sammy Davis. Jr. was also given the incorrect winner during the 1964 Oscars ceremony while presenting the award for best music score for an adaptation or treatment. Originally, Davis Jr. announced John Addison as the winner for “Tom Jones,” who was not even in the category, when in actuality the award was supposed to be given to Andre Previn for “Irma La Douce.”

Davis Jr. smoothly played off the error, joking “wait till the NAACP hears about this,” which garnered a huge applause from the audience. After he was promptly handed the correct envelope, Davis. Jr. slid on his glasses, and said “I ain’t gonna make no mistake this time, damn it.”

Though Davis Jr.’s mistake was cleaned up in a matter of seconds, Beatty’s error dragged on a bit longer. It wasn’t until the cast and producers of “La La Land” — the film Beatty incorrectly announced as the best picture winner — had started making their speeches that the mistake was noticed.

“There’s a mistake,” producer Jordan Horowitz said the the flabbergasted crowd. “‘Moonlight’ you guys won best picture.”

Pricewaterhousecoopers, the firm that has tabulated Oscar ballots for 83 years, has since apologized for the gaffe, saying that Beatty and Dunaway “had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected. We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred.”

A flustered Beatty explained to the audience that the envelope for Best Actress in a Leading Role was given to him rather than Best Picture for “Moonlight.”

“I opened the envelope and it said, ‘Emma Stone, ‘La La Land.’ That’s why I took such a long look at Faye and at you (the audience). I wasn’t trying to be funny,” he said.

“We sincerely apologize to ‘Moonlight,’ ‘La La Land,’ Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for Best Picture,” Pricewaterhousecoopers said in their statement. “We appreciate the grace with which the nominees, the Academy, ABC, and Jimmy Kimmel handled the situation.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Ken Shimura

    Ken Shimura Japanese Comedian Dies of Coronavirus Age 70

    Ken Shimura, a comedian who was a fixture on Japanese television for decades, died on Sunday evening from the coronavirus, the Japanese media reported Monday. He was 70, and immediately before his illness had been set for his first starring role in a feature film. Shimura entered a Tokyo hospital on March 20 with fever [...]

  • Gerard Schurmann, Film and TV Composer,

    Gerard Schurmann, Film and TV Composer, Dies at 96

    Gerard Schurmann, whose 1960s film scores included “The Bedford Incident” and “Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow” but who also composed extensively for the concert hall, died March 24 at his home in the Hollywood Hills. The cause of death was not announced; he was 96. Schurmann’s death was announced by his music publisher, Novello & [...]

  • Rita And Tom Hanks Coronavirus

    Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson Return to U.S. After Coronavirus Diagnosis in Australia

    Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson are back home in the U.S. after they revealed they had contracted coronavirus and were quarantined in Australia. Hanks gave an update on Twitter Saturday morning, thanking everyone who had helped them in Australia and assuring people that they are still isolating themselves in the U.S. “Hey, folks…We’re home now [...]

  • Film Comment Magazine Goes on Hiatus

    Film Comment Magazine to Go on Hiatus as Film at Lincoln Center Lays Off Half of Staff

    Many companies are being financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and the Film at Lincoln Center is the latest organization to have to lay off employees and pause some of their operations. On Friday, executive director Lesli Klainberg released a memo announcing that the center had to furlough or lay off about half of its [...]

  • "Birds of Prey" egg sandwich

    'Birds of Prey' Actor Bruno Oliver Recreates Harley Quinn's Famous Sandwich

    When actor Bruno Oliver booked the role of short order cook Sal in “Birds of Prey: (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn),” he had no idea how significant Sal and his breakfast sandwich were to the story. “You couldn’t tell from the audition necessarily and as actors, we always worry about our scenes [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content