Here’s a fun fact, compadres: the svelte, nude frame of the Oscar statue is modeled after an undocumented Mexican immigrant. Yes, American cinema’s highest honor is modeled after someone who is not an American citizen, a tidbit that is sure to make Fox News and Bill O’Reilly apoplectic.
Hollywood’s most coveted male body does not belong to Chris Evans or Chris Hemsworth. That honor goes to Emilio "El Indio" Fernández, the prolific Mexican actor, director and screenwriter who stripped down, grabbed a sword and posed for Academy Award designer Cedric Gibbons in 1928.
Fernández, a Coahuila native, came to America after escaping from a Mexican prison where he was sentenced for 20 years for his involvement in Adolfo de la Huerta’s failed uprising against President Álvaro Obregón. He fled to Los Angeles and began working in Hollywood as an extra. It was there he befriended the legendary Dolores Del Rio, and it was she who recommended to Fernández to Gibbons, her husband at the time.
But Fernández didn’t just model for awards; he won them, as well. His film Maria Candelaria won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1946, and as a director and screenwriter, he helped usher in the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema.
So when the Academy hands the an Oscar to Amy Adams today for her turn in American Hustle (as the Current predicted), they’ll also be handing over a 13.5-inch, 8.5-pound piece of Mexican history.
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