Bette Davis claimed to have named the Academy Award “Oscar” after her first husband, band leader Harmon Oscar Nelson. Another story has it that the Academy’s librarian, Margaret Herrick, named it after her Uncle Oscar. But the real Oscar, the man who posed nude for the trophy in 1928, was Mexican film director Emilio Fernández. The woman he was in love with, film actress Dolores del Rio (a fellow Mexican), convinced him to do it. She never reciprocated Fernández’s love, but she went on to star in six of his films including the love story Maria Candelaria, which didn’t win an Oscar but won the Grand Prix at the 1946 Cannes Film Festival. It’s success made her a Hollywood star.
Two years after del Rio convinced Fernández to pose nude for the trophy, she married the designer of the Oscar statuette, Irish American Cedric Gibbons, who was one of the original 36 founding members of The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. For art direction, Gibbons won 11 Oscars for films like The Bridge of San Luis Rey and An American in Paris.