Oscar History: Academy Award Winning Movies and Actors of 1939

A look at Oscar winners and nominees, behind the scenes on the decisions for best picture, actor, etc for 1939, Gone With the Wind gets top honors, the first Academy Award to a black performer.

1939

Best Picture

NOMINEES: Dark Victory, Good-bye, Mr. Chips, Love Affair, Gone with the Wind, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Ninotchka, Of Mice and Men, Stagecoach, The Wizard of Oz, Wuthering Heights

THE WINNER: Gone with the Wind (MGM)

DIRECTOR: Victory Fleming

PLAYERS: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Leslie Howard, Olivia De Havilland

Best Actor

NOMINEES: Clark Gable (Gone with the Wind); Laurence Olivier (Wuthering Heights); Mickey Rooney (Babes in Arms); Robert Donat (Good-bye, Mr. Chips); James Stewart (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington)

THE WINNER: Robert Donat

Best Actress

NOMINEES: Irene Dunne (Love Affair); Vivien Leigh (Gone with the Wind); Bette Davis (Dark Victory); Greta Garbo (Ninotchka); Greer Garson (Good-bye, Mr. Chips)

THE WINNER: Vivien Leigh

Behind the Oscar

The voting was almost a clean sweep for Gone with the Wind in the major categories. The only Wind casualty in the landslide was favorite Clark Gable, who lost out to Robert Donat's Mr. Chips. Hattie McDaniel became the 1st black to carry off an Academy Award. Incidentally, as movie historian Robert Osborne reports it, "not once did anyone mention the name of Margaret Mitchell, the small woman who had simply written the book on which the victorious movie was based."

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