We know that every Hollywood actor, actress, director, writer, etc. dreams of hearing his or her name after the phrase, "And the Oscar goes to ..." We even know that Kate Winslet keeps hers in the bathroom. But do we know why it's called an "Oscar?" And if we don't even know that, what exactly do we know about this coveted little statuette?
The award's official moniker is actually the Academy Award of Merit. However, the statue is most commonly referred to by its nickname, "Oscar." Why? It's a genuine pop culture mystery, folks. According to the Academy, the most prominent rumor is that the name was bestowed on the golden statue by Academy librarian (and later executive director) Margaret Herrick, who reportedly said that the statue looked like her uncle Oscar. The name stuck and was officially adopted by the Academy in 1939.
Weighing in at 8.5 pounds, Oscar stands at the respectable height of 13.5 inches, holds a sword (in case he gets attacked by an Emmy), and sits atop a reel of film with 5 spokes -- each spoke representing the 5 original branches of the Academy: Actors, directors, producers, technicians and writers.
What's Oscar made of? Originally, the statue was made of solid bronze (gold-plated of course), but soon the Academy decided to switch to a copper, nickel and gold-plated design made of britannium. During WWII, Oscar was made out of plaster because of the metal shortage. Plaster statues were eventually redeemed for the gold-plated britannium versions after the war ended.
How much is Oscar worth on the market? One of the conditions of receiving the actual statuette is that the recipient signs a waiver that prevents the sale of the statue, by the winner or his or her heirs, without offering the Academy first right of refusal. How much would the Academy have to pay to buy back Kate Winslett's Oscar? $1. However, some pre-50s statues do make the auction block from time to time. Reportedly, Michael Jackson bought David O. Selznick's "Gone with the Wind" Oscar in 1999 for $1.54M. Just a disclaimer though: Prices may vary with historical value.