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The shortest Academy Awards ceremony took about 15 minutes.

That speedy awards presentation, held in 1929, was also the first. Why so swift? “It was very much an experiment,” says Tariq Khan, FoxNews.com’s Oscar expert. The winners had been announced three months earlier, “so it was a chance to just gather and see friends and colleagues and celebrate [their] work.” The fancy festivities included entertainment and a banquet, but when it was time for the honors, names were read with little fanfare and sans skits. Since coming to TV in 1953, the Oscars have gotten longer—last year’s ran 3.5 hours—but at least they’ve increased in entertainment value (Ellen DeGeneres hosts on March 2). We’d like to thank the Academy for that.

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