|Hosted by Johnny Carson|
Directed by Marty Pasetta
Most awards The Deer Hunter (5)
Other ceremonies 1978, 1980
Producer Jack Haley Jr.
|Produced by Jack Haley, Jr.|
Best Picture The Deer Hunter
Date 9 April 1979
Host Johnny Carson
Site Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
|Most nominations The Deer Hunter and Heaven Can Wait (9)|
Location Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles, California, United States
The 51st Academy Awards ceremony, organized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), honored films released in 1978 and took place on April 9, 1979, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles beginning at 7:00 p.m. PST / 10:00 p.m. EST. During the ceremony, AMPAS presented Academy Awards (commonly referred to as Oscars) in 22 categories. The ceremony, televised in the United States by ABC, was produced by Jack Haley, Jr. and directed by Marty Pasetta. Comedian and talk show host Johnny Carson hosted the show for the first time. Three days earlier in a ceremony held at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California on April 6, the Academy Awards for Technical Achievement were presented by hosts Gregory Peck and Christopher Reeve.
- Winners and nominees
- Academy Honorary Awards
- Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award
- Special Achievement Award
- Presenters and performers
The Deer Hunter won five awards including Best Picture. Other winners included Coming Home with three awards, Midnight Express with two awards, and The Buddy Holly Story, California Suite, Days of Heaven, Death on the Nile, The Flight of the Gossamer Condor, Get Out Your Handkerchiefs, Heaven Can Wait, Scared Straight!, Special Delivery, Superman, Teenage Father and Thank God It's Friday with one.
The ceremony, held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Downtown Los Angeles, California, was hosted by late night talk host Johnny Carson for the first time. Jack Elliott and Allyn Ferguson served as musical directors for the telecast. Singers Sammy Davis Jr. and Steve Lawrence performed a medley called "Oscar's Only Human" which was composed of movie songs that were not nominated for Best Original Song. Initially the Academy's music branch protested that the segment be dropped from the ceremony, but it was kept intact after Haley threatened to leave his position as producer and pull Carson from emcee duties.
It was also remembered for being the final public appearance of Oscar-winning actor John Wayne, where he was given a standing ovation before presenting the award for Best Picture. On June 11, two months after the ceremony, he died from complications from stomach cancer at age 72.
Winners and nominees
The nominees for the 51st Academy Awards were announced on February 20, 1979. The Deer Hunter and Heaven Can Wait tied for the most nominations with nine each. The winners were announced during the awards ceremony on April 9. Best Director nominees Warren Beatty and Buck Henry became the second pair of directors nominated in that category for the same film; Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise had won for co-directing 1961's West Side Story. Furthermore, Beatty was the first person since Orson Welles to earn acting, directing, producing, and screenwriting nominations in the same year. With Jon Voight and Jane Fonda's respective wins in the Best Actor and Best Actress categories, Coming Home was the fourth film to win both lead acting awards. Best Supporting Actress winner Maggie Smith became the only person to win an Oscar for playing an Oscar loser.
Winners are listed first, highlighted in boldface and indicated with a double dagger ().
Academy Honorary Awards
Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award
Special Achievement Award
Presenters and performers
The following individuals (in order of appearance) presented awards or performed musical numbers: