Hulton Archive/Getty Images/Classic Oscar Photos: The 1930s
Screenwriter Irvin S. Cobb, host of the 1935 Academy Awards, gives a special, tiny Oscar to Shirley Temple for her "outstanding contribution" to the industry in 1934, a year when the 6-year-old star made 12 movies.
Ralph Morse/Getty Images/Classic Oscar Photos: The 1950s
At the 1954 Academy Awards, Audrey Hepburn cradles the Oscar for best actress, awarded for her first lead role and her first Hollywood movie, Roman Holiday.
At the 1954 Academy Awards, Audrey Hepburn cradles the Oscar for best actress, awarded for her first lead role and her first Hollywood movie, Roman Holiday. Ralph Morse/Getty Images/Classic Oscar Photos: The 1950s
Gene Lester/Getty Images/Classic Oscar Photos: The 1960s
Sidney Poitier beams backstage after becoming the first black performer to win a lead acting Oscar, for his handyman role in Lilies of the Field in 1964.
Pictorial Parade/Getty Images/Classic Oscar Photos: The 1940s
Future U.S. president Ronald Reagan attends the 1947 ceremony in support of his then-wife, Jane Wyman, who was nominated for Best Actress for The Yearling.
Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images/Oscar Photos: 2000-Present
During the 2010 Oscars, The Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow glances back at her ex-husband, Avatar director James Cameron. Their movies had been competing all Oscar season. On the big night, Bigelow's movie came out on top, scoring six wins to Avatar's three. Bigelow became the first-ever female director to win an Oscar.
Ralph Crane/Getty Images via LIFE/LIFE's Best Oscar Photos
Through most of his career Chaplin had a contentious relationship with the Academy, due to his far-left political leanings (he was on J. Edgar Hoover's list of suspected Communists), the Academy honored him with a lifetime achievement award in 1972.
The 83rd Oscars are right around the corner and Life is looking back at some of the most iconic Academy moments through the years. See dozens of related photo galleries on their site.