The A-listers are currently sweeping into Hollywood as the biggest event in the movie industry calendar looms tonight, Oscars 2012.
For all the star quality brought to the red carpet by the likes of Angelina Jolie, Kate Winslet, Rooney Mara and Halle Berry, it is the enduring icons of the golden age that still show the A-listers how it should be done.
The golden generations’ pictures capture the sophistication and allure of stars on awards nights more than half a century ago.
In one, Audrey Hepburn grins and sports an elfin haircut while clutching her Oscar in 1953, for her breakout role in Roman Holiday alongside Gregory Peck.
Frank Sinatra’s career was on the wane when he won the Best Supporting Actor award in the same year for the wartime drama From Here To Eternity.
After Marlon Brando won the Academy Award for On The Waterfront it was stolen, finally turning up in a London auction house who contacted the actor and informed him that they had it. Before that the two-time Best Actor winner had been using it to help hold his front door open.
A teenage Natalie Wood glances excitedly in the mirror as she is primped and preened in preparation for the Oscars in a Warner Brothers studio dressing room – the night she won a Best Supporting Actress Award for her role in the 1955 film Rebel Without A Cause.
Kirk Douglas is seen charming the crowd in 1954 as he enters the Academy Awards ceremony. He was nominated three times for Best Actor but never won. Kirk Douglas received a Honorary award in 1996 for “50 years as a moral and creative force in the motion picture community”.
In other pictures, Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly wait with apparent nerves backstage to present an award. They are both dressed in full-skirted gowns with evening gloves and hair in elegant chignons.
A dashing Clark Gable arrives with Kelly, wrapped in a fur stole, at another ceremony while one of Tinseltown’s greatest romances – Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart radiate glamour.
The first awards were handed out to a select 15 in front of a crowd of 270 on May 16, 1929, at a private brunch in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.
The root of where the name Oscar comes has become a highly contested Hollywood legend. One biography of Bette Davis claims that she named the Oscar after her first husband – band leader Harmon Oscar Nelson.
Another claimed origin is that the Academy’s secretary, Margaret Herrick, first saw the award in 1931 and made reference to the statuette reminding her of her “Uncle Oscar”. The trophy was officially dubbed the Oscar in 1939 by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.
The 84th Academy Awards will be hosted by Billy Crystal at the Kodak theatre tonight. It is televised live across the U.S. and is watched by around 40 million Americans.