Only one Academy Award has ever been revoked in the history of the Oscars, and it was for a documentary that had been nominated in the wrong year.
UPDATE (3/31/22): This story has been updated with comments from Whoopi Goldberg, who is on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences board of governors, and from Chris Rock.
After Will Smith marched on stage and slapped presenter Chris Rock during the March 27 Academy Awards, Will Smith accepted the Oscar for best actor. He received the award for his role as Richard Williams in “King Richard.”
“The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show,” the organization said in a statement the next day. “We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our bylaws, standards of conduct and California law.”
Many social media users debated whether Smith deserved to be punished for his actions. Some argued that he should be stripped of his award, while others claimed the academy doesn’t even revoke the awards of members expelled from its organization.
Has an actor ever been stripped of an Academy Award?
No, an actor has never been stripped of an Academy Award.
WHAT WE FOUND
Although the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which oversees the Academy Awards, has expelled individuals from its organization before, it has not stripped an actor of their Academy Award.
The academy has revoked an Oscar before, but for a film, not an actor. That happened in 1969, when the film “Young Americans” was awarded 1968’s best documentary. It was later declared ineligible because the film had actually been released in 1967, according to the Academy Awards database. The academy gave the film’s award to the runner-up in the best documentary category, “Journey into Self.”
In a brief profile of “Young Americans’” director Alex Grasshoff, Texas A&M states the occasion marked the first time where an Academy Award was first awarded and then revoked.
There have been no other instances of awards being rescinded, including for actors’ conduct that resulted in expulsion from the organization.
In 2017, shortly after sexual assault allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein came to light, the academy released a statement confirming it had voted to expel him from the academy. But Weinstein, who has since been convicted of rape and sexual assault, still retains his award for best picture in 1999, according to the Academy Awards database.
The academy expelled Roman Polanski and Bill Cosby in 2018, also over sexual abuse allegations. The Academy Awards’ database still lists Polanski as the winner of the 2003 best directing award. At the time Polanski received the award, his 1977 guilty plea for the charge of “unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor” was publicly known, and he could not accept his award in person because he has been a fugitive of the U.S. justice system since fleeing the country just before sentencing.
“We’re not going to take that Oscar from him,” said Whoopi Goldberg, a member of the academy’s board of governors, said the next day on “The View.”
The Standards of Conduct all academy members must adhere to states its members must uphold “values of respect for human dignity” and “there is no place in the Academy for people who abuse their status, power or influence in a manner that violates recognised standards of decency.” It makes no direct mention to any form of violence, or any behavior at the Oscars.
On Tuesday March 30, Rock told the audience at the beginning of a stand-up comic routine in Boston, “I don’t have a bunch of (expletive) to say about [Smith’s slap at the Oscars].” He added that he is “still processing what happened” but he will talk about what happened “at some point.”