The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) was formed 85 years ago. The Academy is a professional honorary organization dedicated to the advancement of the arts and sciences of motion pictures. The Academy’s corporate management and general policies are overseen by a Board of Governors, which includes representatives from each of the craft branches.
The notion of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) began with Louis B. Mayer, head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). He wanted to create an organization that would mediate labor disputes and improve the industry’s image. So, on a Sunday evening, May 11, 1927, Mayer and three other studio big-wigs – actor Conrad Nagel, director Fred Niblo, and the head of the Association of Motion Picture Producers, Fred Beetson – sat down and discussed these matters. The idea of this elite club having an annual banquet was tossed around, but there was no mention of awards just yet. They also established that membership into the organization would only be open to people involved in one of the five branches of the industry: actors, directors, writers, technicians, and producers.
After their brief meeting, Mayer gathered up a group of thirty-six people involved in the film industry and invited them to a formal banquet at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on January 11, 1927. That evening Mayer presented to those guests what he called the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and it was open to those who had contributed to the motion picture industry. Everyone in the room that evening became a founder of the Academy. It wasn’t until later, when Mayer’s lawyers wrote up the charter, did the name change to “Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences”.
Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. was elected as the first president of the Academy. As one of his first acts, he added an activity of bestowing “awards of merit for distinctive achievement.” However, they were on the brink of forming something historical. A year later the voting system for the Awards was established, and the nomination and selection process began. This “award of merit for distinctive achievement” is what we know now as the Academy Award.
In 1929, the Academy, in a joint venture with the University of Southern California, created America’s first film school to further the art and science of moving pictures. The School’s founding faculty included Fairbanks (President of the Academy), D. W. Griffith, William C. deMille, Ernst Lubitsch, Irving Thalberg, and Darryl F. Zanuck.
The Academy is composed of over 6,000 motion picture professionals. While the great majority of its members are based in the United States, membership is open to qualified filmmakers around the world.
The Academy is known around the world for its annual Academy Awards, informally known as the “Oscars”. In addition, the Academy gives Student Academy Awards annually to filmmakers at the undergraduate and graduate level; awards up to five Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting annually; and operates the Margaret Herrick Library (at the Fairbanks Center for Motion Picture Study) in Beverly Hills, California and the Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California.
Douglas Osborne “Doug” McClure (May 11, 1935 – February 5, 1995) was an American actor whose career in film and television extended from the 1950s to the 1990s. Born in Glendale, California, he is best known for his appearances as Trampas in the NBC Western series The Virginian and the 70’s sci-fi adventure films, The Land That Time Forgot and Warlords of Atlantis.
McClure’s acting career included minor roles in The Enemy Below, South Pacific, The Unforgiven, and Because They’re Young, before landing the part of Trampas on The Virginian – a part that would make him famous. He also starred in three other series: as Frank “Flip” Flippen on NBC’s western, Overland Trail (1960), as Jed Sills on the CBS Detective series Checkmate (1960–1962), and finally in the sci-fi/detective series Search (1972-73) in which he rotated the lead with Hugh O’Brian and Anthony Franciosa as a high-tech PROBE agent.
In 1967, he played the Errol Flynn role in a re-make of Against All Flags titled The King’s Pirate. He also played the lead in two World War II adventures, The Longest Hundred Miles and The Birdmen.
In 1975, McClure starred in The Land That Time Forgot, the film is a fantasy/adventure film based upon the 1924 novel of the same name by Edgar Rice Burroughs, with a screenplay written by Michael Moorcock. Produced by Britain’s Amicus Productions, the movie tells the story of the survivors of a sinking British merchant ship who are taken on board a German U-Boat that has torpedoed their ship. Along with a few surviving British officers, Bowen Tyler convinces the other men to take over the surfacing submarine, this being their only chance for survival. After confronting the Germans on the deck, a fight ensues and they seize the German U-boat. Off course and running out of fuel in the South Atlantic, the U-boat and its crew happen across an uncharted sub-continent called Caprona, a fantastical land of lush vegetation where dinosaurs still roam, co-existing with primitive man. There are also reserves of oil which, if the Germans and British can work together, can be refined and enable their escape from the island.
Amicus was to make two more Burroughs adaptations, At the Earths Core (1976), with McClure, Peter Cushing, and Caroline Munro; and The People That Time Forgot (1977), a direct sequel to The Land That Time Forgot starring Patrick Wayne,Sarah Douglas and McClure in a cameo appearance.
In 1978, McClure made Warlords of Atlantis, a British science fiction/fantasy film. McClure plays Greg Collinson whose ship is chartered for a diving expedition, however the y are secretly searching for proof of the existence of the lost city of Atlantis. First, they are attacked by a reptilian sea monster, which comes through the bottom of the diving bell, before they discover a statue made of solid gold.There’s a mutiny on board the ship as everyone wants the gold. Then a gigantic octopus, sent by the inhabitants of Atlantis, attacks the ship. Our heroes end up in Atlantis where they encounter an array of mythical creatures. I loved these movies when I was a kid and have been tempted to revisit them on DVD, however I’ve resisted as I don’t want my childhood memories ruined…
He also made Humanoids from the Deep (1980) updating of many similarly plotted genre offerings from the 1950s, with the addition of lots of graphic violence and nudity. Thanks to good word of mouth among teenage boys, the film was a modest financial success for New World Pictures, and it continues to be a cult favourite today.
In 1994, McClure was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Television at 7065 Hollywood Blvd. It was unveiled in what was his final public appearance. On February 5, 1995, McClure died from lung cancer in Sherman Oaks, California. He was 59.