Skip to main content

The 69th Academy Awards Memorable Moments

69th Oscars

Best Picture: The English Patient

The English Patient also won Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress (Juliette Binoche), Art Direction-Set Decoration (Stuart Craig and Stephenie McMillan), Cinematography (John Seale), Costume Design (Ann Roth), Directing (Anthony Minghella), Film Editing (Walter Murch), Music – Original Dramatic Score (Gabriel Yared), and Sound (Walter Murch, Mark Berger, David Parker, and Chris Newman).

Three of the winners in the acting categories were first-time nominees: Juliette Binoche won Best Supporting Actress for The English Patient, Geoffrey Rush won Best Actor for Shine, and Cuba Gooding Jr. won Best Supporting Actor for Jerry Maguire. Frances McDormand, who won Best Actress for Fargo, had been nominated in 1988 for Best Supporting Actress for “Mississippi Burning.”

Saul Zaentz, the producer of Best Picture winner The English Patient, became the second person to have produced three Best Picture winners since 1951. Zaentz’s other winners were “ne Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest in 1975 and Amadeus in 1984. Sam Spiegel preceded him in the accomplishment. 

Zaentz also received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award at the 69th Academy Awards ceremony. 

Former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, suffering from Parkinson’s disease, came to the stage with fellow champion George Foreman after the Academy Award for Feature Documentary went to “When We Were Kings,” which profiled the 1974 Ali-Foreman championship bout in Zaire.

Billy Crystal returned as the master of ceremonies. The show opened with a specially produced video that, with the help of special effects, inserted Crystal into key scenes from some of the year’s nominated films.

In January 1996, American troops entered Northern Bosnia as part of the NATO peacekeeping force trying to end the conflict between Bosnian Serbs and Muslims.

On April 11, 1996, seven-year-old Jessica Dubroff was killed in a crash near Cheyenne, Wyoming, while attempting to set a record as the youngest person to pilot an airplane across the United States.

In May 1996, Swede Göran Kropp reached the Mount Everest summit alone and without oxygen. Kropp first bicycled from Stockholm, Sweden, to Nepal, and then biked home after his achievement.

On June 8, 1996, Steffi Graf defeated Arantxa Sánchez Vicario in the longest ever women's final at the French Open, winning her 19th Grand Slam singles title. The match lasted over 3 hours and consisted of 40 games.

On June 26, 1996, Irish crime reporter Veronica Guerin was shot and killed in her car in Dublin, Ireland.

In July 1996, Lyle and Erik Menendez were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole as a result of their convictions for the 1989 murder of their parents, José and Kitty.

On July 19, 1996, the Summer Olympics opened in Atlanta, GA. The U.S. women’s gymnastics team, nicknamed the “Magnificent 7,” won its first ever team gold on July 23.

In August 1996, Charles, Prince of Wales, and his wife, Princess Diana, formally divorced after four years of separation.

On November 5, 1996, President Clinton defeated challenger Bob Dole in the U.S. presidential election.

On November 26, 1996, the Sands Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas was imploded. The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino now stands on the site. 

On December 26, 1996, six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey was found dead in the basement of her parents’ Boulder, Colorado home.

In December 1996, the statuette that Clark Gable won for “It Happened One Night” (1934) was anonymously purchased at an auction for more than $600,000. The buyer turned out to be Steven Spielberg, who returned the statuette to the Academy.

Honorary Award

To Michael Kidd in recognition of his services to the art of the dance in the art of the screen.

Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award

To Saul Zaentz.