Could Will Smith's Oscar be revoked? What the Past Says

Only one Oscar has ever been returned in the history of the ceremony.

The audience's collective gasp was echoed globally when actor Will Smith stormed onto the Oscars stage on Sunday night to smack comedian Chris Rock, as Twitter and YouTube went into overdrive. Smith won the Best Actor Oscar for his work in King Richard moments later, sparking a social media debate about whether or not and how to punish the actor.


Will Will lose his Oscar as a result? It's improbable if history is any indication.


Only one Oscar has ever been returned in the history of the ceremony. According to the movie website IMDB, Young Americans won the Best Documentary Feature Award in 1969, but it was later discovered that it had been released too soon to have been considered for nomination.


Hollywood's Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has expelled other prominent figures from the field, but all of them have kept their honors. Harvey Weinstein, a disgraced Hollywood producer, was sentenced to 23 years in jail for sex offenses in March 2020 and expelled from the Academy; yet, he still holds onto his 1998 Oscar for Shakespeare in Love. Roman Polanski and Bill Cosby are two more individuals that were expelled from the Academy in the wake of the movement.


How about Will Smith, then? In a statement, the Academy said that it "condemns Mr. Smith's behavior during last night's performance. We have formally begun an investigation into the incident, and we will consider additional steps and penalties by our bylaws, our rules of behavior, and California law."


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