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Welcome to Oscar Night! Remember These 1964 Winning Films?

'Mary Poppins' and 'My Fair Lady' duked it out for top honors — as did Julie Andrews and Audrey Hepburn

The First 'British Invasion'

Bob Hope, who hosted 18 times, opened the Academy Awards ceremony honoring 1964 films by noting the large number of foreign-born nominees: “Before you can pick up your Oscar, you have to show your passport.” Nine of the 20 acting nominees were British.

Everett Collection

A Loverly Evening

With the most nominations of any film — 13 — Mary Poppins seemed poised to chimney-sweep the awards. But Julie Andrews’ “perfect nanny” was bested by Audrey Hepburn’s Cockney flower girl, transformed (by Rex Harrison’s Professor Henry Higgins) into a high-society beauty: My Fair Lady won Best Picture.

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Julie Andrews? Never Heard of Her

The hottest show-biz buzz of the awards season may have been the hiring of Audrey Hepburn to star as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady (she beat out Julie Andrews, who originated the Broadway role in 1956). Producer Jack Warner deemed Andrews — shown serenading an animatronic robin in Mary Poppins — too unknown to be a big box-office draw.

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No Hard Feelings, Liza!

After Andrews snagged the Best Actress Oscar, she denied being rivals with Hepburn — who, unaccountably, was not among the nominees for Best Actress. “I wouldn’t say revenge was sweet,” said Andrews backstage. “There’s no ill will.” That’s presenter Sidney Poitier at right.

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Best Performance by a Snubbed Actress

Hepburn may have been overlooked as Best Actress because the tunes she “sang” in My Fair Lady were actually performed by pro Marni Nixon — the same voice dubbed over Natalie Wood’s in West Side Story. Hepburn proved herself to be our fair lady by sending Andrews a congratulatory bouquet of paper flowers. 

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He Could’ve Danced All Night

Rex Harrison took home the Best Actor statuette for his turn as the suavely manipulative Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady. After Hepburn handed him the award on stage, he hugged her five times, kissed her three times and kept his arms wrapped around her while proclaiming, “I feel in a way I should split it in half between us.”

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Here’s to a Hollywood Legend

65-year-old George Cukor (right), winless after four previous nominations, walked off with the night’s Best Director award for My Fair Lady, presented by Joan Crawford. “I’m very grateful, very happy and very lucky,” Cukor told the crowd. The film’s producer, Jack Warner (left), took the statue for Best Picture.

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'Fine, Jon, but You Can’t Keep It!'

Angela Lansbury presented Peter Ustinov’s Best Supporting Actor award for Topkapi — his second, after Spartacus in 1960 to funny man Jonathan Winters, who accepted on Ustinov’s behalf. “I don’t know if Peter expected this,” said Winters. “I certainly didn’t, or I would have been sure to wear black socks.”

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The United Nations — of Film

Lila Kedrova, a French performer of Russian descent, took the Best Supporting Actress crown for her role as an aging courtesan in Zorba the Greek opposite fellow nominee Anthony Quinn. This was the first year all four winners of the acting Oscars were foreign-born.

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The Unsinkable Debbie Reynolds

Reynolds, whose Oscar nomination for The Unsinkable Molly Brown was her first, presented Best Original Score awards to Robert and Richard Sherman for Mary Poppins. (The songwriting brothers were memorably brought to life in last year’s Saving Mr. Banks.) Reynolds returned to the stage later that night to present the Best Adapted Score trophy to André Previn for My Fair Lady.

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We Love the Way He … Sounds?!

007’s Sean Connery got in on the British Invasion when Goldfinger won for — get this — Best Sound Effects. The 23-film James Bond franchise would collect 14 nominations and three more wins: Thunderball (1965) nabbed Best Visual Effects, while Skyfall (2012) was honored for Original Song and Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures. 

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She Put a Spell on Us

Having made her screen debut in 1941’s Citizen Kane, Hollywood veteran Agnes Moorehead was in the running for Best Supporting Actress as Bette Davis’ devoted housekeeper in Hush … Hush, Sweet Charlotte. That year the 64-year-old also began her eight-season run as sharp-tongued sorceress Endora on TV’s Bewitched.

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Zorba the Sneak?

A hubbub greeted the 1963 news that Anthony Quinn had two sons by a young Italian costume designer he’d met while working in Rome on Barabbas (1961). (He also had five kids in the U.S. with his wife, Katherine B. DeMille.) The revelation did not keep Quinn from his fourth Oscar nomination as the lead in Zorba the Greek.

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Too Much for One Man?

Adding flash and splash to the evening were Claudia Cardinale and Rock Hudson. While Cardinale joined Steve McQueen and Angie Dickinson in presenting the Best Achievement in Sound award, Hudson did the Best Cinematography honors.

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