Carol Burnett, Michael Caine, Charlton Heston, and Rock Hudson shared the hosting duties.
Charlton Heston got a flat tire on the way to the ceremony and arrived late. Clint Eastwood was grabbed out of the audience to briefly stand in for him.
A musical salute to Walt Disney Studios' 50th anniversary featured, among others, Mickey Mouse.
Rosalind Russell received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.
Along with the late Raymond Rasch and Larry Russell, Charlie Chaplin won the Original Dramatic Score award for Limelight, a movie that was released in New York in 1952. Its belated eligibility was due to the fact that the film had not been shown in Los Angeles until 1972, and so only then did it qualify for Academy Award consideration.
On February 6, 1972, Bob Douglas became the first African-American man to be elected as an individual to the Basketball Hall of Fame. Douglas, the owner and coach of the New York Renaissance from 1922 to 1949, was known as The Father of Black Professional Basketball.
In March 1972, Clifford Irving and his wife, Edith, pleaded guilty to federal and state charges of conspiring to defraud publisher McGraw-Hill by selling a fake autobiography of Howard Hughes.
In June 1972, five men were arrested while trying to break into and bug the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate Hotel.
In July 1972, the first female FBI agents to serve in over forty years were appointed. There were three female agents in the 1920s.
On July 21, 1972, comedian George Carlin was arrested at Summerfest in Milwaukee for disorderly conduct after reciting his Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.
In August 1972, John Wojtowicz and Sal Naturale held seven Chase Manhattan Bank employees hostage for 14 hours in Brooklyn, New York. The event was later dramatized in the 1975 film Dog Day Afternoon.
On August 26th, 1972, the Summer Olympics opened in Munich, Germany.
On September 5, 1972, eight Palestinian terrorists stormed the Olympic Village apartments, killing two Israeli athletes and taking nine others hostage. Those nine were killed the next day.
On November 7, 1972, President Nixon defeated Senator George McGovern in the U.S. presidential election.
Atari began production on Pong, one of the earliest of the new generation of arcade video games, in November 1972.
On December 26, 1972, former President Harry Truman died in Kansas City, Missouri.
On December 31, 1972, baseball player Roberto Clemente was killed in a plane crash. He was on his way to bring food and other relief supplies to the survivors of an earthquake in Nicaragua.
Special Achievement Award (Visual Effects)
To The Poseidon Adventure L. B. Abbott, A. D. Flowers
Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award
To Rosalind Russell.
To Charles S. Boren, Leader for 38 years of the industry's enlightened labor relations and architect of its policy of non-discrimination. With the respect and affection of all who work in films.
To Edward G. Robinson who achieved greatness as a player, a patron of the arts and a dedicated citizen...in sum, a Renaissance man. From his friends in the industry he loves.