Yesterday it became official: This year’s Oscars broadcast would go on without a host. The status of who would MC the 2019 Academy Awards had been in doubt ever since Kevin Hart, who was supposed to host the show, stepped down after the rediscovery of some of his 2010 tweets that used anti-gay slurs.
Something similar happened just seven years ago in 2012 when host Eddie Murphy and producer Brett Ratner both stepped down following offensive comments from Rattner. But that year Billy Crystal stepped up to host that year’s awards.
This won’t, however, be the first time the Oscars has gone hostless. It’s happened two other times since the awards started airing on television in 1953: once in 1969 and, perhaps most memorably, 20 years later.
In 1989, producer David Carr chose to focus on having more presenters rather than an MC. That year's Oscars is remembered for a near sweep by Rain Man, which won awards for best picture, best actor, best director and best screenplay. But it is also remembered for a show that the Hollywood Reporter called “Oscars biggest goof” and Academy president Gregory Peck called “an embarrassment.” And it all started with an extended number that, for anyone who has watched recent Academy Awards shows, could best be described as…odd. It included an unlicensed portrayal of Snow White doing her best Betty Boop impression while wearing Dorothy’s slippers from the Wizard of the Oz and doing a lambada with Rob Lowe as they both sang a parody version of Proud Mary. And if that sentence was not confusing enough, don’t worry, the hits keep coming. Merv Griffin performed an abbreviated version of I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts before introducing a number of senior celebrities including both Buddy and Roy Rogers who shuffled around the stage with a chorus line. And that only covers a few of the Oscar’s most perplexing 11 minutes. Watch the whole thing below. It may be the most important thing you do today.
1989's host-free Oscars featured a performance the likes of which, we probably won’t see again. At least that’s what this year’s producers should be hoping.