Oscar History: Academy Award Winning Movies and Actors of 1959

A look at Oscar winners and nominees, behind the scenes on the decisions for best picture, actor, etc for 1959, Ben-Hur gets top honors.

1959

Best Picture

NOMINEES: Anatomy of a Murder, Ben-Hur, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Nun's Story, Room at the Top

THE WINNER: Ben-Hur (MGM)

DIRECTOR: William Wyler

PLAYERS: Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Haya Harareet, Stephen Boyd

Best Actor

NOMINEES: Laurence Harvey (Room at the Top); Charlton Heston (Ben-Hur); Jack Lemmon (Some Like It Hot); Paul Muni (The Last Angry Man); James Stewart (Anatomy of a Murder)

THE WINNER: Charlton Heston

Best Actress

NOMINEES: Doris Day (Pillow Talk); Audrey Hepburn (The Nun's Story); Katharine Hepburn (Suddenly, Last Summer); Simone Signoret (Room at the Top); Elizabeth Taylor (Suddenly, Last Summer)

THE WINNER: Simone Signoret

Behind the Oscar

Not quite a grand slam, but Ben-Hur set an Academy record by winning 11 out of its 12 nominations. Stars stayed away from this one, still stinging from the defects of the previous year's proceedings. There was a pall on the affair from a 4-week actors' strike, plus the final pullout of studio financial support for the Academy. The prevailing studio sentiment was echoed by Paramount: "Why should Paramount support a show that sells only MGM's Ben-Hur?" Why, indeed?

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