Hollywood was abuzz and aglitter with Oscar fever on February 29, 1940, at the Cocoanut Grove of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. The 8:30 p.m. event was the twelfth annual awards presentation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

As was the custom, the names of the Oscar winners were revealed in advance to the press, with newspapers making a solemn promise not to break the news before the ceremonies. But one newspaper couldn’t contain the excitement.

The Los Angeles Times printed the names of the winners and splashed Gone With the Wind in banner headlines across the front page. The results greeted Academy Award-goers as they arrived for the banquet and prompted the academy to initiate a protocol for future award presentations.

Since then, the names of the winners have been sealed in envelopes by a multinational professional services firm. This ensures that the results are, indeed, kept secret until the presenter says, “And the winner is…”

Best PictureGone With the Wind 

 Other Nominees:

  • Dark Victory
  • Goodbye, Mr. Chips
  • Love Affair
  • Smith Goes to Washington
  • Ninotchka
  • Of Mice and Men
  • Stagecoach
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • Wuthering Heights

    Best Actress
    – Vivien Leigh, Gone With the Wind 

    Other Nominees:

  • Betty Davis, Dark Victory

  • Irene Dunn, Love Affair
  • Greta Garbo, Ninotchka
  • Greer Garson, Goodbye, Mr. Chips

    Best Actor – Robert Donat, Goodbye, Mr. Chips    
    Other Nominees:

  • Clark Gable, Gone With the Wind
  • Laurence Olivier, Wuthering Heights
  • Mickey Rooney, Babes in Arms
  • James Stewart, Smith Goes to Washington

    Best Supporting Actress
    – Hattie McDaniel, Gone With the Wind

   Other Nominees:

  • Olivia de Havilland, Gone With the Wind
  • Geraldine Fitzgerald, Wuthering Heights
  • Edna May Oliver, Drums Along the Mohawk
  • Maria Ouspenskaya, Love Affair   

Best Supporting Actor – Thomas Mitchell, Stagecoach  

 Other Nominees:

  • Brian Aherne, Juarez
  • Harry Carey, Smith Goes to Washington
  • Brian Donlevy, Beau Geste
  • Claude Rains, Smith Goes to Washington  

Best Director – Victor Fleming, Gone With the Wind

Other Nominees:

  • Frank Capra, Smith Goes to Washington
  • John Ford, Stagecoach
  • Sam Wood, Goodbye, Mr. Chips
  • William Wyler, Wuthering Heights   

Other Competitive Academy Awards for Gone With the Wind 

  • Best Screenplay – Sidney Howard
  • Best Photography – Ernest Haller and Ray Rennahan 
  • Best Art Direction – Lyle Wheeler
  • Best Film Editing – Hal C. Kern and James E. Newcom  

Honorary Awards from the Academy

  • David O. Selznick received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award “for the most consistent high quality of production during 1939.” 
  • William Cameron Menzies received a special plaque “for outstanding achievement in the use of color for the enhancement of dramatic mood in the production Gone With the Wind.” 

Gone With the Wind Did Not Win in Every Nomination Category 

  • Clark Gable lost Best Actor
  • Jack Cosgrove lost Best Special Effects
  • Max Steiner lost Best Musical Score
  • Thomas Moulton lost Best Sound Recording

Here’s One for the Record Books 

  •  Gone With the Wind won a record-breaking eight competitive Academy Awards.


  •  That record stood until 1958 when Gigi was victorious in every category for which it was nominated and captured nine Oscars. However, one Oscar was for Best Costume Design, a category that did not exist in 1939.


  • Gone With the Wind’s record was broken for good with the 1959 appearance of Ben-Hur, which earned 11 Academy Awards, exactly 20 years after Gone With the Wind’s own record-setting win.

Source: The Complete GONE WITH THE WIND Trivia Book (second edition) by Pauline Bartel


2023 Twin Year: The 2023 calendar matches the days of the 1939, making 2023 a twin year to 1939. That’s the premise of Pauline’s new book Gone With the Wind: 1939 Day by Day. In that book, she chronicles the production, premieres and reception of GWTW from January 1, 1939 to December 31, 1939. Fans will love following the drama and intrigue of GWTW’s production on each event’s exact day and date. #GWTW1939DaybyDay

Blogger Bio: Pauline Bartel is the author of Gone With the Wind: 1939 Day by Day, The Complete GONE WITH THE WIND Trivia Book, and an expert on the film and its history. Follow Pauline on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Request a personally inscribed bookplate by sending a request to PaulineBartel@cs.com. Visit her Amazon.com Author Page and leave a review telling other GWTW fans why you love Gone With the Wind: 1939 Day by Day. #GWTW1939DaybyDay

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