The 95th Academy Awards will reveal the winner of its 23 categories on Sunday night at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, during a ceremony packed with Hollywood’s biggest names and hosted by Jimmy Kimmel. Directors, actors, producers and other film industry members will have a chance to take home their very own Oscar statue.
Made in solid bronze and plated in 24-karat gold, the 1-foot tall, 8-pound golden statuette has become one of the most recognizable and desired trophies in the world since the first Academy Awards in 1929. Shaped like a male body, the statue is said to be modeled after a Mexican man — and no, his name is not Oscar.
Famous Mexican movie star and filmmaker Emilio Fernandez, also known as “El Indio,” claimed to be the model who inspired the trophy’s design.
Fernandez was captured while fighting in the Mexican Revolution and fled to the United States in exile. In the 1920s, he started his career working as an extra in Hollywood and met Mexican actress and Hollywood star Dolores del Río.
Río was dating MGM chief art director Cedric Gibbons at the time — they later got married in 1930. According to Fernandez, Gibbons was looking for a model who would serve as an inspiration for a trophy, so Río introduced him to Gibbons.
Gibbons designed the statue with Fenandez’s help, creating a knight standing on a film reel, holding a crusader’s sword, which was meant to represent a crusader of the industry. The statue was then sculpted by Stanley and has remained the same 94 years later.
Fernandez move back to Mexico and his career progressed as a famous actor and director. He was never nominated for an Academy Award. However, he won a Palme d’Or award at the 1946 Cannes Film Festival for his film “María Candelaria” (1944) and Best Cinematography and a mention for Best Film at the 1947 Venice Film Festival for “La Perla.”