On this day in 1969, the 41st annual Academy Awards are broadcast live to a television audience in 37 nations. It was the first time the awards had been televised worldwide, as well as the first Oscar ceremony to be held in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Los Angeles Music Center.
Adding to the momentous nature of the night was the first Oscar tie in a major acting category in more than three decades. “It’s a tie!” Ingrid Bergman exclaimed upon opening the Best Actress envelope. The award went to both Katharine Hepburn, for her turn as Eleanor of Aquitaine in The Lion in Winter, and Barbra Streisand, for her debut performance in Funny Girl. Reprising her role in the hit Broadway musical, Streisand earned raves for her portrayal of Fanny Brice, the quintessential “ugly duckling” who blossoms into a sophisticated and beautiful star. It was the 11th Oscar nomination for Hepburn, who had won Best Actress the previous year for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and had not been expected to repeat. She was a no-show at the April 14th ceremony, and an emotional Streisand stole the moment, cooing “Hello, gorgeous” (her opening line in Funny Girl) upon accepting her golden Oscar.
Both Streisand and Hepburn received 3,030 votes each; it was the first exact tie in a principal Oscar category. When Fredric March (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) and Wallace Beery (The Champ) split the award for Best Actor in 1932, Beery had actually received one less vote than March. The rules at the time stated that if any nominated film or artist came within three votes of winning in a principal category, the result would be considered a tie. There have been other Oscar ties over the years, twice in the Best Documentary category (1949 and 1986) and once for Best Live Action Short Film (1986).