The show's theme was "Oscar Salutes Women and the Movies"; in recognition of this "Year of the Woman", several winners and presenters made comments regarding women in film and women who had influenced them.
Audrey Hepburn had been selected in December to receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for her work with UNICEF. Sadly, she passed away on January 20th and the award was accepted by her son Sean.
The board of governors of the Academy had decided this year to eliminate the Live Action and Animated short films category because of its limited appeal, citing it as just a series of student films that nobody ever sees. The idea was shot down by a resounding protest, and oddly enough one of this year's nominees was Kenneth Branagh.
Billy Crystal did not want to host this show and refused many offers from producer Gil Cates to change his mind. After refusing the third time, Cates sent Crystal a stuffed horse's head made up to look like the horse he rode in City Slickers (1991). Crystal changed his mind, but after the show there were so many bad reviews about his performance (many critics wrote that "The Year of the Woman" should have been hosted by one) that it would be another three years before he would host again.
Adriana Caselotti, who provided the voice for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), was offended that the Disney didn't ask for her services to provide the voice for the character who was presenting the award for Best Live Action Short Subject, stating that "Uncle Walt never would have permitted this, to just let some girl do it". Further proof of Snow White's shaky association with the Academy came during the presentation of the award itself when the film of the animated character froze in mid-sentence before announcing the winner.
A year after the ceremony, a reporter from the New York Post began a rumor that eventually became one of the Academy Awards most infamous urban legends. The theory was that an inebriated Jack Palance read the wrong name when presenting the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, that he read Marisa Tomei's name off the teleprompter, but that the name on the envelope was actually Miranda Richardson. The rumor circulated and eventually got back to the Academy which conducted its own investigation. Price Waterhouse (the firm that tabulates the results) confirmed that Tomei actually did have more votes than the other nominees, and the Academy, looking at the tape of the show, confirmed that Palace was clearly reading the name from the envelope and not the teleprompter.
Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins created a controversy when, prior to presenting the award for Best Editing, they made a personal plea on behalf of 200 HIV-positive Haitians who were being detained at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba after having tried to reach Florida.