Behind the Scenes: The Making of Oscar Statues

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Actors, directors, and other Hollywood elite will fly to sunny California for the 81st Annual Academy Awards this month, but the soon-to-be awarded Oscar statues have their humble roots in Chicago. Windy City-based R.S. Owens & Co. recently buffed and polished the 8.5 pound statuettes in preparation for the awards ceremony on February 22.

“R.S. Owens has been manufacturing Oscars on the city’s Northwest Side every year since 1982,” explains ABC 7 Chicago in the station’s recent video on Oscar preparation. The video notes that each Oscar is cast-molded, polished and electro-plated, ending with a dip in 24-karat gold. Meanwhile, a camera follows the journey of one Oscar called Oscar 3454 — but officially known, as with all Oscars, as the Academy Award of Merit.

Oscar 3454 now stand 13.5 inches tall, but like other freshly-minted Oscars, the little man started with brittania bars. A high-grade pewter alloy that includes tin, copper, and antimony, the brittania is melted and poured into the steel Oscar mold. Afterwards, the Oscars are buffed, polished, engraved, and dipped in liquid copper, nickel, silver, and finally, gold. Next stop for Oscar? The Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, where 3454 and his brethren can’t stay star-struck: they’ll travel home with cast and crew from Slumdog Millionaire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and other nominated films.

–Amy Edwards

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