1959 Academy Awards

The 1959 Academy Awards were held April 4, 1960 to honor best film making efforts for the year 1959. The 32nd Academy Awards ceremonies were hosted by Bob Hope at the RKO Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, California.

Some of the top 1950s names and stars presenting awards and performing during the event included Gary Cooper, Doris Day, Sammy Davis, Jr., Hope Lange, Gene Kelly, Rock Hudson, and John Wayne.

The epic film “Ben Hur” broke Oscar history records with an amazing eleven Academy Awards wins out of their twelve nominations.

1959 Academy Awards for Best Picture

Ben-Hur – Sam Zimbalist (posthumous award)
Anatomy of a Murder – Otto Preminger
Room at the Top – John Woolf and James Woolf
The Diary of Anne Frank – George Stevens
The Nun’s Story – Henry Blanke

Ben-Hur is the 1959 Oscar winning epic film directed by William Wyler and starring Charlton Heston as Judah Ben-Hur, a wealthy prince in Jerusalem who is devoted to his faith and the freedom of the Jewish people.

1959 Ben Hur Trailer
Charlton Heston in Ben Hur

With a budget of $15 million, Ben-Hur was one of the most expensive films ever made with the nine minute chariot race becoming one of the most famous scenes in movie making history.

1959 Academy Awards for Best Actor


Charlton Heston – Ben-Hur

Laurence Harvey – Room at the Top
Jack Lemmon – Some Like It Hot
Paul Muni – The Last Angry Man
James Stewart – Anatomy of a Murder

Charlton Heston won the Best Actor Oscar for his role in the epic “Ben-Hur”. The film won a record breaking eleven Oscars.

Charlton Heston was born on October 4, 1923 and died April 5, 2008 at the age of 84. He was married from 1944 to 2008 to Lydia Clarke, whom he married before his acting career was established.

As another actor who starred in at least one film a year during the fifties, Heston’s roles in “The Ten Commandments” and “Ben Hur” have been widely lauded. “Ben Hur” won him a Best Actor award for his role as Judah Ben Hur. He is still identified with the character Ben Hur.

The 1959 Oscars for Best Actress

Simone Signoret – Room at the Top
Doris Day – Pillow Talk
Audrey Hepburn – The Nun’s Story
Katharine Hepburn – Suddenly, Last Summer
Elizabeth Taylor – Suddenly, Last Summer

Simone Signoret won top female award in “Room at the Top” with Katharine Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor vying for the Best Actress award in “Suddenly, Last Summer.”

Signoret was born March 25, 1921 and died of pancreatic cancer September 30, 1985 at the age of 64. With her Best Actress win for her performance in Room at the Top”, she became the first French Actress to win an Academy Award.

The 1959 Academy Awards for Best Director

William Wyler – Ben-Hur
Jack Clayton – Room at the Top
Billy Wilder – Some Like It Hot
George Stevens – The Diary of Anne Frank
Fred Zinnemann – The Nun’s Story

1959 Oscar for Best Supporting Actor

Hugh Griffith – Ben-Hur
Arthur O’Connell – Anatomy of a Murder
George C. Scott – Anatomy of a Murder
Robert Vaughn – The Young Philadelphians
Ed Wynn – The Diary of Anne Frank

1959 Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress

Shelley Winters – The Diary of Anne Frank
Hermione Baddeley – Room at the Top
Susan Kohner – Imitation of Life
Juanita Moore – Imitation of Life
Thelma Ritter – Pillow Talk

The 1959 Academy Awards in Costume Design – Black and White

Some Like It Hot – Orry-Kelly
Career – Edith Head
The Diary of Anne Frank – Charles LeMaire and Mary Wills
The Gazebo – Helen Rose
The Young Philadelphians – Howard Shoup

The 1959 Academy Awards in Costume Design – Color

Ben-Hur – Elizabeth Haffenden
Porgy and Bess – Irene Sharaff
The Best of Everything – Adele Palmer
The Big Fisherman – Renie
The Five Pennies – Edith Head

1959 Academy Awards for Best Original Song

“High Hopes” from A Hole in the Head – Music by Jimmy Van Heusen; Lyric by Sammy Cahn
“The Best of Everything” from The Best of Everything – Music by Alfred Newman; Lyric by Sammy Cahn
“The Five Pennies” from The Five Pennies – Music and Lyric by Sylvia Fine
“The Hanging Tree” from The Hanging Tree – Music by Jerry Livingston; Lyric by Mack David
“Strange Are The Ways of Love” from The Young Land – Music by Dimitri Tiomkin; Lyric by Ned Washington

1959 Oscar for Best Original Screenplay

Pillow Talk – Russell Rouse, Clarence Greene, Stanley Shapiro and Maurice Richlin
North by Northwest – Ernest Lehman
The 400 Blows – François Truffaut and Marcel Moussy
Operation Petticoat – Paul King, Joseph J. Stone, Stanley Shapiro and Maurice Richlin
Wild Strawberries – Ingmar Bergman

1959 Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay

Room at the Top – Neil Paterson
Anatomy of a Murder – Wendell Mayes
Ben-Hur – Karl Tunberg
Some Like It Hot – Billy Wilder and I. A. L. Diamond
The Nun’s Story – Robert Anderson

1959 Academy Awards for Best Cinematography – Black and White

The Diary of Anne Frank – William C. Mellor
Anatomy of a Murder – Sam Leavitt
Career – Joseph LaShelle
Some Like It Hot – Charles Lang, Jr.
The Young Philadelphians – Harry Stradling, Sr.

1959 Academy Awards in Cinematography – Color

Ben-Hur – Robert L. Surtees
Porgy and Bess – Leon Shamroy
The Big Fisherman – Lee Garmes
The Five Pennies – Daniel L. Fapp
The Nun’s Story – Franz Planer

1959 Academy Awards in Art Direction – Black and White

The Diary of Anne Frank – Art Direction: Lyle R. Wheeler and George W. Davis; Set Decoration: Walter M. Scott and Stuart A. Reiss
Career – Art Direction: Hal Pereira and Walter Tyler; Set Decoration: Sam Comer and Arthur Krams
Some Like It Hot – Art Direction: Ted Haworth; Set Decoration: Edward G. Boyle
Suddenly, Last Summer – Art Direction: Oliver Messel and William Kellner; Set Decoration: Scot Slimon
The Last Angry Man – Art Direction: Carl Anderson; Set Decoration: William Kiernan

1959 Oscars in Art Direction – Color

Ben-Hur – Art Direction: William A. Horning (posthumous award) and Edward Carfagno; Set Decoration: Hugh Hunt

Journey to the Center of the Earth – Art Direction: Lyle R. Wheeler; Set Decoration: Franz Bachelin and Herman A. Blumenthal
North by Northwest – Art Direction: William A. Horning (posthumous nomination), Robert Boyle and Merrill Pye; Set Decoration: Henry Grace and Frank McKelvy
Pillow Talk – Art Direction: Richard H. Riedel; Set Decoration: Russell A. Gausman and Ruby R. Levitt
The Big Fisherman – Art Direction: John DeCuir; Set Decoration: Julia Heron

1959 Academy Awards in Film Editing

Ben-Hur – Ralph E. Winters and John D. Dunning
Anatomy of a Murder – Louis R. Loeffler
North by Northwest – George Tomasini
On the Beach – Frederic Knudtson
The Nun’s Story – Walter Thompson

1959’s Best Special Effects

Ben-Hur – A. Arnold Gillespie, Robert MacDonald and Milo Lory
Journey to the Center of the Earth – L. B. Abbott, James B. Gordon and Carl Faulkner

1958 Academy Awards
Red Carpet
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