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Top 6 Most Awkward Moments That Happened at the Oscars

Do you remember of any of these jaw-dropping scenarios?

While the Academy Awards are a sophisticated event meant to honor the most extraordinary films and best actors of our time, not everything always goes smoothly. You never know what can happen on live television! From an A-list actress stumbling down the stairs to a streaker trespassing the stage right before Elizabeth Taylor, read on to discover the six most awkward moments that have ever happened at the Oscars.

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A streaker running across stage.

Elizabeth Taylor laughs at streaker who runs across the stage.
Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

What a time to be alive during alive! What happened at the 1974 Oscars was shocking, although streaking was a huge fad back then.

While co-host of the ceremony David Niven was preparing to welcome Elizabeth Taylor to present, a naked man trespassed and ran across the stage and then proceeded to give the cameras a peace sign.

Niven then cheekily said, "Isn't it fascinating to think that probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings?"

When Taylor went on stage, she laughed and said, "That's a pretty hard act to follow." Touché.

Jennifer Lawrence falling on the stairs.

Jennifer Lawrence falling as she accepts her Oscar award.
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

During the 2013 Oscars ceremony, Jennifer Lawrence tripped on her stunning Dior dress while walking up the stairs to accept the best actress award for her role in Silver Linings Playbook.

Lawrence later told W Magazine exactly what was going through her head after her name was announced for one of the most prestigious awards of the night—and it's probably not what you think.

"I was at the Oscars, waiting to hear if my name was called, and I kept thinking, cakewalk, cakewalk, cakewalk," she explained. "I thought, Why is 'cakewalk' stuck in my head? And then, as I started to walk up the stairs and the fabric from my dress tucked under my feet, I realized my stylist had told me, 'Kick, walk, kick, walk.' You are supposed to kick the dress out while you walk, and I totally forgot because I was thinking about cake! And that's why I fell."

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Will Smith slapping Chris Rock.

Chris Rock getting slapped by Will Smith at the Oscars.
Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Who could forget this infamous 2022 moment that sent shock waves through the Oscar auditorium and the internet as a whole?

If you need a refresher, presenter Chris Rock cracked a joke about Will Smith's wife Jada Smith that referenced her shaved head. Jada suffers from a medical condition called alopecia, and shaves her head because of it. Upon hearing the joke Smith yelled out several expletives and proceeded to walk up to the stage and slap Rock across the face.

Many audience members audibly gasped while some laughed, thinking it was some sort of comical skit. Unfortunately, it was all too real. Smith went on to win the award for best actor for his portrayal of Richard Williams in King Richard and gave an intense, five-minute long acceptance speech in which he apologized to everyone besides Rock.

He has since apologized to Rock and resigned from the Academy. "I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness," he wrote on Instagram.

Announcing the wrong best picture winner.

Close up shot of error card when the wrong oscar was given out.
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Image

Best picture is the most coveted award and what audience and viewers at home are waiting for the entire (very long) night. In 2017, the final moment of the show ended up quite a mess when the wrong film was announced as the winner.

Presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were mistakenly given the wrong envelope before they got on stage. If you were watching in real time you may have noticed Beatty looking genuinely confused as he called out La La Land as the winner—we now know it was because the card was actually for best actress and read "Emma Stone, La La Land"—when in fact Moonlight was best picture of the year.

It was a painful few minutes to watch as La La Land's overjoyed team was awkwardly interrupted by producer Jordan Horowitz who stopped their acceptance speech to say, "Sorry, there's a mistake. Moonlight, you guys won best picture. This is not a joke."

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John Travolta mispronouncing Idina Menzel's name.

John Travolta and Idina Menzel on stage at The Oscars
hoto by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

During the 2014 Oscars ceremony, John Travolta was given the task to introduce the actress Idina Menzel before she sang the ever so popular "Let it Go" from Frozen. Easy enough, right? Well, not really.

Unfortunately, Travolta ended up pronouncing her name completely incorrectly, calling her "the wickedly talented Adele Dazeem."

Luckily the singer has no hard feelings for Travolta. During an appearance of Carpool Karaoke she actually told James Corden that the whole situation was the greatest thing that ever happened to her. And when asked if she had spoken to Travolta since, she said, "He's written so many nice, apologetic emails. He's sent flowers. He's so kind and he would like to make up for it. He would, like, fly wherever at this point. He's so sweet."

Travolta also apologized in a statement saying, "I've been beating myself up all day, then I thought…what would Idina Menzel say? She'd say, 'Let it go, let it go!"

Sam Smith getting his facts wrong.

Sam Smith receiving an Oscar
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

In 2016, singer Sam Smith won the award for the best original song for "Writing's on the Wall" from the James Bond film Spectre.

However, when he accepted his award, he unintentionally spread false information. "I read an article a few months ago by Sir Ian McKellen and he said that no openly gay man had ever won an Oscar, and if this is the case, even if it isn't the case, I want to dedicate this to the LGBT community all around the world," Smith said in his speech. "I stand here tonight as a proud gay man, and I hope we can all stand together as equals one day."

While the sentiment is heartfelt and genuine, openly gay men have won Oscars. McKellen was referring specifically to the best actor award.

Smith later told NME Magazine, "I messed up. I actually meant to say best male actor and I didn't. I obviously did know that I wasn't the first gay person to win an Oscar. I was gutted—there was 90 million people watching that show; I wanted to say something positive and I f**ked up. When I mucked that up, I lost a lot of confidence. I can't express enough—it really upset me. It made me realize that what I say can be damaging."

Lauren Jarvis-Gibson
Lauren Jarvis-Gibson is an Associate Editor at Best Life. Her work has been published in Teen Vogue, Allure, HuffPost, and more. Read more
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