Special Oscar Given for the Clark Gable Classic ‘It Happened One Night’ Was Found in a Kentucky Food Pantry Donation

A relic from the Golden Age of Hollywood was found in the unlikeliest of places this weekend, as a special Oscar given for the 1935 Clark Gable classic “It Happened One Night” was placed in a donation box to a food pantry in Covington, Kentucky.

Cincinnati newspaper CityBeat reported that the Oscar was included in a box for Be Concerned, a community food pantry that also operates a thrift shop. The organization’s executive director Andy Brunsman said that they received the award this past summer and have had it sitting on their shelves for sale seemingly unnoticed.

“Some generous donor rang the back doorbell, gave us a box of what we like to call treasures – could be junk, could be good stuff. We didn’t really know what [the statuette] was, so it went up with the trinkets and knick-knacks on the shelf for a bit,” he said.

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But while the award had long since lost its golden luster, the Be Concerned team suspected that it may not have simply been a cheap tourist gift shop item. So they reached out to the Academy Museum in Los Angeles, which was able to verify that the award sitting in the thrift shop was given out in 1935 for the classic Frank Capra film “It Happened One Night.”

At what was just the sixth Academy Awards held, “It Happened One Night” became the first film to sweep the top five categories — Best Picture, Director, Lead Actor, Lead Actress and Screenplay. Capra took the awards for Best Picture and Director, with screenwriter Robert Riskin also taking honors with lead stars Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert winning for their performances as a jobless newspaper reporter and a spoiled heiress, who famously hitchhikes by showing off her leg in the film to get a driver’s attention.

In the history of the Oscars, only two other films have won all five of these categories: “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” in 1975 and “The Silence of the Lambs” in 1991. The mini statuette found by Be Concerned was a special award given to the cast and crew of “It Happened One Night” to commemorate this rare achievement, though it is unknown exactly to whom the award belonged.

The statuette is now heading to the Academy Museum to be displayed alongside other Oscars won over the decades, with Be Concerned receiving $1,000 for returning it. The org says that it will be taking that money and using it to feed more families in need in the Cincinnati area.