‘Thank you’: 12 of the shortest Oscars speeches ever delivered from Joe Pesci to Billy Wilder

Annabel Nugent
·4-min read
 (AP)
(AP)

In a missive sent around to this year’s Oscar nominees, stars were told to “read the room” when delivering speeches at the Academy Awards this month. Translation: Get off the stage before the orchestra is forced to awkwardly play you out.

In 1943, Greer Garson set a Guinness World Record for Longest Oscars Acceptance Speech, with her address upon accepting her Best Actress award forMrs Miniver clocking in at five and a half minutes.

Garson isn’t the only winner guilty of indulgence though. Hilary Swank, Adrien Brody and Al Pacino have all ignored the 45-second limit and consequently found themselves at the receiving end of a passive aggressive “Will you wrap this up?” stare.

Some actors, however, know that not every story needs to be so long and that brevity is an undervalued quality. Franklin D Roosevelt’s adage – “Be sincere, be brief, be seated” – could very well be the tagline for this year’s ceremony.

From Joe Pesci to Patty Duke, these actors and their speeches (some consisting of five words or less) definitely left us wanting more. This year’s nominees, take note.

Rita Moreno and George Charkis hold their OscarsGetty Images
Rita Moreno and George Charkis hold their OscarsGetty Images

Rita Moreno (West Side Story, 1962)

Moreno kept it short and sweet when she accepted the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, stating: “I can’t believe it! Good Lord. I leave you with that!” Moreno’s award was one of 10 that West Side Story took home that evening, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor for her co-star George Chakris.

Joe Pesci (Goodfellas, 1990)

Hollywood’s favourite wise guy was brief in his gratitude when accepting his Best Supporting Actor award for his role as Tommy DeVito in Martin Scorcese’s iconic gangster film. “It’s my privilege. Thank you,” he said. Pesci’s speech was reportedly so short because he genuinely thought he had no chance of winning.

Dorothy Malone (Written on the Wind, 1957)

After winning Best Supporting Actress for Written on the Wind in 1957, Malone was cut off only 35 seconds into her speech with presenter and fellow actor Jack Lemmon interrupting her at the podium and showing Malone his watch. Rude.

O’Neal became the youngest Oscar winner ever in 1974Rex
O’Neal became the youngest Oscar winner ever in 1974Rex

Tatum O’Neal (Paper Moon, 1974)

In 1974, O’Neal became the youngest Oscar winner ever – and remains so to this day. The 10-year-old actor wore a tuxedo when she accepted the award for Best Supporting Actress for her role opposite her father Ryan O’Neal in Paper Moon. She thanked the film’s director Peter Bogdanovich and her father before leaving the stage.

Patty Duke (The Miracle Worker, 1963)

Looking overwhelmed and emotional as she grasped the statuette for Best Supporting Actress, The Miracle Worker star simply said: “Thank you.” Enough said.

Alfred Hitchcock (Irving G.Thalberg Memorial Award, 1968)

When the influential filmmaker took to the stage to accept the Irving G Thalberg Memorial Award in 1968, he had only five words to say: “Thank you… very much indeed.” By then, Hitchcock had been nominated four times previously but not yet won a single award.

Hitchcock was feted with four Oscar nods in his lifetime but only took home oneKobal/Shutterstock
Hitchcock was feted with four Oscar nods in his lifetime but only took home oneKobal/Shutterstock

Gloria Grahame (The Bad and the Beautiful, 1953)

The actor barely stopped to take a breath when she breezed onto the stage to collect her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for The Bad and the Beautiful, quickly uttering “Thank you very much” into the microphone before swiftly crossing the stage.

Dimitri Tiomkin (High Noon, 1953)

Music director Dimitri Tiomkin took home two Oscars that evening for his work on High Noon, but kept the word count at just 15 for both speeches. For his first win, he offered: “Thank you very much. Thank you”, before following up his second victory with: “I feel like a mother of the wonderful twins.”

Louie Psihoyos (The Cove, 2009)

After being presented with the award for Best Documentary, recipient Psihoyos only managed to say two words (“Thank you”) before the orchestra cued him off. Producer Fisher Stevens had eaten up the time with his own speech. Psihoyos later released a video of the Oscar speech he would have delivered had he been afforded more time.

Director Louie Psihoyos only had time for two words before the orchestra cut him offGetty Images
Director Louie Psihoyos only had time for two words before the orchestra cut him offGetty Images

Billy Wilder (The Apartment, 1961)

Although Wilder took home Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Picture for his work on The Apartment, the filmmaker kept it simple for all three. When Gina Lollobrigida presented him with the Best Director Oscar, he quipped: “Thank you so much, you lovely discerning people. Thank you.”

William Holden (Stalag 17, 1954)

So nice he said it twice, Holden offers his thanks upon accepting his Best Actor award with a simple: “Thank you. Thank you.”

Delbert Mann, (Marty, 1956)

The director picked up his first and only Oscar that night and ensured that his words weren’t minced, stating: “Thank you. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.”

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