Oscar Winners with Wisconsin Ties

Only 24 Oscars are awarded each year, but a surprising number of Badgers have earned prestigious bronze statues.

Ahead of the 2023 Academy Awards, we thought it would be fun to look back at past winners with Wisconsin ties. From actresses and composers to the man behind the greatest movie of all time– the Badger State is well-represented, both on-screen and behind-the-scenes.

Don Ameche

Best Supporting Actor, “Cocoon” (1986)

Wisconsin Tie: From Kenosha, Attended Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison

fun fact: Ameche’s cousin, Alan, played football at Wisconsin and won the Heisman Trophy in 1954.

Justin Hurwitz

Best Original Score, “La La Land” (2017)

Best Original Song, “City of Stars” (2017)

Wisconsin Tie: Nicolet High School (Glendale) alum

fun fact: After graduating from Nicolet, Hurwitz attended Harvard, where he roomed with Damien Chazelle. Chazelle went on to direct “La La Land” and hired Hurwitz to write the score.

Frederic March

Best Actor, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde” (1932)

Best Actor, “The Best Years of Our Lives” (1946)

Wisconsin Tie: From Racine, Attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison

fun fact: The UW had named a 168-seat theater at the Memorial Union after March, but the school removed his name in 2018 after student protests, citing the actor’s membership in a student organization called the Ku Klux Klan. (That group is not believed to have been affiliated with the notorious organization; March was active in the civil rights movement and worked closely with the NAACP.)

Hattie McDaniel

Best Supporting Actress, “Gone With the Wind” (1940)

Wisconsin Tie: Performed as a singer in Milwaukee for two years

fun fact: After the stock market crashed in 1929, McDanniel could only find work as a washroom attendant at Sam Pick’s “Club Madrid” near Milwaukee. One night, the owner reluctantly allowed her to take the stage, and she soon became a regular performer.

Walter Mirisch

Best Picture, “In the Heat of the Night” (1967)

Irving G Thalberg Memorial Award (1978)

Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award (1983)

Wisconsin Tie: University of Wisconsin-Madison Alum

fun fact: In 1989, Mirisch received an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from the UW-Madison.

Errol Morris

Best Documentary, “The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamera” (2003)

Wisconsin Tie: University of Wisconsin-Madison alum

fun fact: After graduating from the UW in 1969 with a Bachelor of Arts in history, Morris used the unorthodox approach of “trying to get accepted at different graduate schools by showing up on their doorstep.” It worked– Morris talked his way into Princeton, but eventually dropped out to pursue film.

John Ridley

Best Adapted Screenplay, “12 Years a Slave” (2014)

Wisconsin Tie: From Mequon

fun fact: Ridley’s dad was an ophthalmologist and his mom was a special education teacher for Milwaukee Public Schools.

Jim Rygiel

Best Visual Effects, “The Fellowship of the Ring” (2001)

Best Visual Effects, “The Two Towers” ​​(2002)

Best Visual Effects, “The Return of the King” (2003)

Wisconsin Tie: From Kenosha, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee alum

fun fact: Rygiel majored in architecture at the UW-Milwaukee, but also dabbled in experimental film and art– following in the creative footsteps of his mother and sister who painted.

Mark Rylance

Best Supporting Actor, “Bridge of Spies” (2016)

Wisconsin Tie: University School of Milwaukee alum

fun fact: Both of Rylance’s parents were English teachers at the University School of Milwaukee.

Adam Stockhausen

Best Production Design, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (2015)

Wisconsin Tie: From Wauwatosa, Marquette University alum

fun fact: Stock receivedhausen Marquette’s “Professional Achievement Award” in 2017. His friend and fellow Class of ’95 alum Erin Slattery Black has won three Emmy Awards for her work designing Muppets costumes for “Sesame Street.”

Spencer Tracy

Best Actor, “Captain’s Courageous” (1937)

Best Actor, “Boys Town” (1938)

Wisconsin Tie: From Milwaukee, Attended Ripon College

fun fact: Tracy formed an acting company called the Campus Players at Ripon in 1921. He left the school the following year for training at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in NYC.

Orson Welles

Best Original Screenplay, “Citizen Kane” (1941)

Honorary Academy Award (1971)

Wisconsin Tie: Born in Kenosha, Lived in Madison

fun fact: Welles moved to and from Wisconsin several times throughout his childhood. His parents separated and moved from Kenosha to Chicago in 1919, when Welles was 4. In fourth grade, he moved back to Wisconsin and attended Washington School in Madison.
The 2023 Academy Awards will air Sunday, March 12th on ABC and Hulu. Click here for a list of this year’s nominees.

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