Typewriters on the Oscars

Penelope Cruz and Robert De Niro present at the 86th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California March 2, 2014.  REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES TAGS: ENTERTAINMENT) (OSCARS-SHOW)

Penelope Cruz and Robert De Niro present at the 86th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California March 2, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES TAGS: ENTERTAINMENT) (OSCARS-SHOW)

I’ve been scouring the internet trying to get some information about the typewriters used as a backdrop in last night’s Oscars broadcast during the Best Writing categories. Did you see them? I haven’t been able to find any information about the typewriters, who owns them or where they came from (the Museum The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, maybe?). If anyone finds any information, please leave a note in the comments.

Somehow, in my searching, I found this photo instead:

 ( New York Public Library ) Nine women pose on a really big typewriter on display at the Underwood Elliott Fisher Exhibit at the New York World's Fair, 1939-40.

( New York Public Library )
Nine women pose on a really big typewriter on display at the Underwood Elliott Fisher Exhibit at the New York World’s Fair, 1939-40.

Thank you, internet non sequitur.

7 thoughts on “Typewriters on the Oscars

  1. I believe they are different brands, but at least one of them–the one at DeNiro’s left elbow–is a 1940-50 vintage Royal upright.

    • I couldn’t find a lot of photos of this portion of the Oscars broadcast but there were dozens of typewriters, all different models from an array of decades. I’m curious who provided them to the show. Did they buy them, borrow them? Are they the machines screenwriters used? I SO wanted more details!

      • An odd bit of trivia from grad-school research: The screenwriters at Columbia Pictures notoriously worked in separate out-buildings on upright Underwoods during the Forties and Fifties. Ergo Harry Cohn notoriously referred to them (including Scott Fitzgerald) as “schmucks with Underwoods.” I would imagine there are companies that rent old typewriters, much as they rent old cars, for period films. There’s a friend of the Pen Addict who started out long ago as a collector but now supplies period-correct pens and pencils to “Mad Men.”

  2. Sorry I can’t help with more info on the typewriters on the Oscars, but your post reminded me of a film I really liked that I saw on the plane last summer. It’s a 2012 french film called Populaire, and it’s about typing and typing competitions back in the day. It gives a cool history of typewriters and how our current (so to speak) ones came about. It was an enjoyable movie. Have you seen it?

  3. Remember how much oomph it took to type on a manual? My mother-in-law was a tiny birdlike woman, but she could type hard enough to make several carbons.

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