1966 Academy Awards®
Winners and History
Introduction, 1927/8-39, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s
Academy Awards Summaries
"Best Picture" Oscar®, "Best Director" Oscar®, "Best Actor" Oscar®, "Best Supporting Actor" Oscar®,
"Best Actress" Oscar®, "Best Supporting Actress" Oscar®, "Best Screenplay/Writer" Oscar®
The winner is listed first, in CAPITAL letters.
A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS (1966, UK)
Alfie (1966, UK)
The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming (1966)
The Sand Pebbles (1966)
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
PAUL SCOFIELD in "A Man for All Seasons", Alan Arkin in "The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming", Richard Burton in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?", Michael Caine in "Alfie", Steve McQueen in "The Sand Pebbles"
ELIZABETH TAYLOR in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?", Anouk Aimee in "A Man and a Woman", Ida Kaminska in "The Shop on Main Street", Lynn Redgrave in "Georgy Girl", Vanessa Redgrave in "Morgan!"
WALTER MATTHAU in "The Fortune Cookie", Mako in "The Sand Pebbles", James Mason in "Georgy Girl", George Segal in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?", Robert Shaw in "A Man for All Seasons"
SANDY DENNIS in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?", Wendy Hiller in "A Man for All Seasons", Jocelyn Lagarde in "Hawaii", Vivien Merchant in "Alfie", Geraldine Page in "You're a Big Boy Now"
FRED ZINNEMANN for "A Man for All Seasons", Michelangelo Antonioni for "Blow-up", Richard Brooks for "The Professionals", Claude Lelouch for "A Man and a Woman", Mike Nichols for "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
The two major front-runners of 1966 were both adaptations of stage dramas: one British (but financed in Hollywood), and one American, each with serious plots.
One was the Best Picture winner of the year, director Fred Zinnemann's biopic of the last seven years in the life of Catholic Sir Thomas More (Paul Scofield), the 16th century English Chancellor, when he battled in a moral tug-of-war against the will of heretical King Henry VIII (Robert Shaw) over his 1529 divorce. It was based upon Robert Bolt's 1961 stage play A Man for All Seasons, but it was not the picture with the most nominations - it had only eight nominations. As it ended up, A Man for All Seasons won six Oscars (Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Costume Design), one more than its closest contender.
The other contender was Mike Nichols' blistering and savage, taboo-breaking screen adaptation of Edward Albee's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1962 Broadway drama Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? with a grand total of thirteen nominations - the most-nominated picture of the year (a near-record!). All four members of its cast received nominations - one nominee in each of the four acting categories. Nichols' debut film won five Oscars (Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best B/W Cinematography, Best B/W Art/Set Direction, and Best B/W Costume Design). Its win confirmed the end to Hollywood's Production Code.
The other three nominees for Best Picture included:
- director Lewis Gilbert's British film set in mod 60s London from Bill Naughton's play, Alfie (with five nominations and no wins) about a despicable, Cockney sexual predator
- director Norman Jewison's film, The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming (with four nominations and no wins) - a satirical, star-studded comedy from Nathaniel Benchley's novel The Off-Islanders about the grounding of a Soviet submarine off the New England coast
- director Robert Wise's epic, adventure-war tale The Sand Pebbles (with eight nominations and no wins) about sailors on a gunboat on the Yangtze River in mid-1920s China with Steve McQueen as the leader of a patrol to rescue American citizens and missionaries
Three of the directors of the Best Picture nominees were denied Best Director nominations: Lewis Gilbert for Alfie, Robert Wise for The Sand Pebbles, and Norman Jewison for The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming. Mike Nichols, in his remarkable directorial debut, who brought together the controversial and unreliable husband/wife team of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor (from the financially disastrous Cleopatra), was nominated for the profane play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. [Another famous future director, Francis Ford Coppola, was experiencing his debut year for You're A Big Boy Now (with only one nomination for Best Supporting Actress).]
Taking the places of the three displaced directors were:
- writer/director Michelangelo Antonioni (with his first - and only career nominations) for the ambiguous, ultra-mod, cult/art film about a London photographer (David Hemmings) and a murder mystery involving a couple in a park in the psychological thriller Blow-Up (with two nominations, both for Antonioni, for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay - and no wins)
- Richard Brooks for the exciting western about four mercenaries hired to rescue a wealthy cattle baron's kidnapped wife in Mexico in The Professionals (with three nominations and no wins)
- Claude Lelouch for the romantic French film A Man and A Woman about two widowed people who become romantically and emotionally involved - with a familiar theme tune by Michel Legrand. [The French film won the Best Foreign Language Film Award and the Best Original Screenplay Award - it was the first foreign language film to win that particular Oscar.]
Fred Zinnemann (who directed such classics as High Noon (1952) and The Nun's Story (1959)) won the Best Director Award for A Man for All Seasons - it was his second (and last) directorial Oscar (his first was for From Here to Eternity (1953) thirteen years earlier)).
The Best Actor category included one actor from each of the Best Picture nominees:
- Michael Caine (with his first nomination in his first starring role after making films for ten years) as the sexually-frank, vile womanizing British playboy Alfie - the title character in Alfie
- Richard Burton (with his fifth nomination and fifth loss) as the self-loathing, burned-out, beaten-down, sensitive university professor George, Martha's (Elizabeth Taylor) husband in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
- Steve McQueen (with his sole unsuccessful career nomination in the peak years of his career) with one of his greatest performances as Jake Holman - the loner-sailor-expatriate engineer on the patrolling gunboat in The Sand Pebbles
- Alan Arkin (with his first of three career nominations) as Rozanov - one of the Russian sailors who comes ashore after their Soviet sub is run aground in The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming
The winner in the category was distinguished English stage actor Paul Scofield (with his first of two career nominations - and his sole Oscar win) who re-created his original stage role as the principled, dignified, resistant Sir Thomas More who was beheaded by King Henry VIII when he stubbornly refused to compromise in A Man for All Seasons. In the film, More refused to endorse King Henry's royal divorce (and break with Rome) from his barren wife Catherine of Aragon and his subsequent marriage to Anne Boleyn. [If Burton had won the category's Oscar, he could have boasted that he and his wife were the first husband-wife team in Academy Awards history to win the top two acting awards. And they would have won Oscars for playing the roles of a husband and wife! They appeared together in a total of eleven films - and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was their finest effort.]
The Best Actress Oscar was won by Elizabeth Taylor (with her fifth and final career nomination). It was her second Oscar for her role as the verbally-abusive, graying, foul-mouthed, troubled, sloppy and overweight, and shrewish wife Martha (the middle-aged daughter of a college president) in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.
The other Best Actress nominees were from non-American, international films, with the additional twist of the Redgrave sisters competing against each other in two British films: [Note: The sisters were the first to be nominated simultaneously in 25 years, when two other sisters Joan Fontaine and Olivia De Havilland were nominated for their films Suspicion (1941) and Hold Back the Dawn (1941).]
- Vanessa Redgrave (with her first of six career nominations) as Leonie Delt - the wife of Morgan (co-star David Warner) in Czech director Karel Reisz' funny satire of David Mercer's play, Morgan! A Suitable Case For Treatment (with two nominations and no wins)
- Lynn Redgrave (with her sole nomination) as Georgy Parkin - the plain, dumpy, overweight 'ugly duckling' - the title role in director Silvio Narizzano's Georgy Girl (with four nominations and no wins)
- beautiful French actress Anouk Aimee (with her sole nomination) as Anne Gauthier - the script girl involved in the romance in A Man and a Woman
- sixty-five year-old Ida Kaminska (with her sole nomination) as Rozalie Lautmannova - the old Jewish button-shop proprietress in the Czechoslovakian film The Shop on Main Street (the film's sole nomination). [This film won the Best Foreign Language Film Award in 1965.]
The supporting Actor and Actress nominees included the two other co-stars in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? - one of whom won the award:
- George Segal (with his sole nomination) as Nick - the unfortunate faculty colleague and guest invited to visit drunken and battling husband/wife academics George and Martha
- Sandy Dennis (with her sole career nomination - and sole Oscar win) as Honey - his frail, bewildered, falsely-pregnant, mousy and naive wife
[This was only one of three instances when a film's entire cast had been nominated. The other instances were Sleuth (1972), with a cast of two - Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine, and Give 'em Hell, Harry! (1975).]
The Best Supporting Actor award was presented to Walter Matthau (with his first of three career nominations - and his sole Oscar win) as shyster lawyer 'Whiplash' Willie Gingrich who takes advantage of his brother's (Jack Lemmon) supposed injuries in director Billy Wilder's witty satire The Fortune Cookie (with four nominations and one win - Best Supporting Actor). [Matthau's major acting performance was placed in the supportive category to help guarantee the win. The role teamed Matthau with Jack Lemmon, for the first time - it led to their re-teaming in The Odd Couple (1968).]
The following are the additional Best Supporting Actor nominees: actor/novelist/playwright Robert Shaw (with his sole nomination) for his role as virile young King Henry VIII in A Man for All Seasons, Makoto (Mako) Iwamatsu (with his sole nomination) for his debut film role as coolie engine-room worker Po-Han, who is tortured and mercifully executed by co-star Steve McQueen in The Sand Pebbles, and James Mason (with his second of three unsuccessful career nominations) for his role as James Leamington - a wealthy older man in pursuit of his employee Lynn Redgrave in Georgy Girl. [Coincidentally, Mason had played a similar pursuit role in his un-nominated performance as Humbert Humbert in Kubrick's Lolita (1962).]
The four losing nominees in the Best Supporting Actress category included:
- Wendy Hiller (with her third and last career nomination) as Thomas More's long-suffering, practical wife Alice in A Man for All Seasons
- inexperienced, phonetically-trained Jocelyne LaGarde (in her first and only film) as the large (over 400 lbs), naive, non-English speaking Hawaiian (Maui) Queen Alii Nui (Malama) in George Roy Hill's Hawaii (with seven nominations and no wins) - the epic tale of missionaries bringing Christianity to the island natives from James Michener's novel
- Vivien Merchant (with her sole nomination) as Lily, one of Alfie's pregnant victims in Alfie
- Geraldine Page (with her fourth of eight career nominations) as smothering, Long Island mother figure Margery Chanticleer in director Francis Ford Coppola's commercial directorial debut - a coming-of-age comedy film, You're a Big Boy Now (the film's sole nomination)
Director Gillo Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers (It.) was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film this year, but lost to A Man and a Woman (Fr.). Other nominees included Pharaoh (Pol.), Loves of a Blonde (1965, Czech.), and Three (1965, Yugo.). The Battle of Algiers was eligible for additional Oscar nominations during the 1968 awards season, receiving Best Director and Best Original Screenplay nominations.
Oscar Snubs and Omissions:
Another psychological thriller from Roman Polanski, Cul-de-Sac, was again denied nominations (similar to the previous year) in any of the awards categories. Sean Connery was un-nominated in A Fine Madness, and Anne Bancroft was worthy of a nomination for Seven Women.
Zero Mostel (who never received a nomination during his entire career) was un-nominated for his role as Pseudolus the slave in Richard Lester's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (with only one winning nomination for Best Score). His two cast-mates Phil Silvers and Jack Gilford were also un-nominated.
Ernest Lehman's script for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? might have won the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, instead of the actual winner, Robert Bolt for A Man For All Seasons. [Lehman had written previously-nominated scripts for Sabrina (1954), North By Northwest (1959), and West Side Story (1961) - he never won an Oscar for his four career nominations.]
Eli Wallach was denied a nomination as crazed bounty hunter Tuco in Sergio Leone's spaghetti western The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (aka Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo), and Liv Ullman was also bypassed as ailing mute patient Elisabet Vogler in Ingmar Bergman's Swedish classic Persona.
One of the top grossing films of the year, director John Huston's religious epic The Bible - In the Beginning, had no nominations. And director/actor Orson Welles' Chimes at Midnight (aka Falstaff) (nominated for the Golden Palm at Cannes, and the winner of the 20th Anniversary Prize and the Technical Grand Prize) was omitted from recognition in numerous awards categories.