Best Picture: Gone with the Wind
Gone with the Wind won eight Academy Awards: Best Picture, Actress (Vivien Leigh), Supporting Actress (Hattie McDaniel), Art Direction (Lyle R. Wheeler), Color Cinematography (Ernest Haller, Ray Rennahan), Directing (Victor Fleming), Film Editing (Hal C. Kern, James E. Newcom) and Writing – Screenplay (Sidney Howard). It received five other nominations.
Gone with the Wind was the first color movie to win an Academy Award for Best Picture.
Sidney Howard was the first posthumous winner in a competitive category (for the screenplay of Gone with the Wind).
Bob Hope was the master of ceremonies for the first time.
This was the last year that the names of winners were given to the press in advance of the awards presentation.
In April 1939, John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath was published.
On May 2, 1939, Major League Baseball’s Lou Gehrig, the legendary Yankee first baseman known as The Iron Horse, ended his 2,130 consecutive games played streak after a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
On August 15, 1939, MGM’s classic musical film The Wizard of Oz, starring Judy Garland as Dorothy, had its Hollywood premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland, marking the beginning of World War II.
In February 1939, the DuPont Company revealed its latest invention, nylon stockings, at the San Francisco’s World Fair.
On November 16, 1939, Al Capone was released from Alcatraz.
To Douglas Fairbanks (Commemorative Award) - recognizing the unique and outstanding contribution of Douglas Fairbanks, first President of the Academy, to the international development of the motion picture.
To The Motion Picture Relief Fund - acknowledging the outstanding services to the industry during the past year of the Motion Picture Relief Fund and its progressive leadership. Presented to Jean Hersholt, President; Ralph Morgan, Chairman of the Executive Committee; Ralph Block, First Vice-President; and Conrad Nagel.
To Judy Garland for her outstanding performance as a screen juvenile during the past year.
To William Cameron Menzies for outstanding achievement in the use of color for the enhancement of dramatic mood in the production of Gone with the Wind.
Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award
To David O. Selznick.