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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Spielberg's Oscar Drought Is Over

LOS ANGELES -- Steven Spielberg finally felt the touch of an Oscar on Monday, winning best director and picture for "Schindler's List," a stark epic of heroism amid the Holocaust that took seven awards in all.


"This is the best drink of water after the longest drought of my life," Spielberg said as he came to the stage a second time, for the best picture award.


But he quickly turned from celebrating his triumph to issue an emotional appeal to educators to draw on the experience of the 350,000 survivors of the Holocaust alive today.


"I implore all the educators who are watching this program to please do not allow the Holocaust to remain a footnote in history," he said. "Please teach this in your schools."


Moments earlier, as he accepted the award for directing after a prolonged standing ovation, Spielberg said: "I actually have friends who have won this before, and I swear I have never held one before. This is the first time I have ever had one of these in my hand."


He won an honorary Irving Thalberg award in 1987, but in two decades of turning out Hollywood's biggest hits from "Jaws" to "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial," Spielberg had never won for best picture or director.


"Schindler's List," which had led all competitors at the 66th annual Academy Awards with 12 nominations, also won for screenplay adaptation, art direction, film editing, John Williams' original score and its mostly black-and-white cinematography.


The Oscars for leading performances went to Tom Hanks, a lawyer fighting discrimination while dying of AIDS in "Philadelphia," and Holly Hunter, the mute mail-order bride of "The Piano."


"The Piano" also took three Oscars, including the only real surprise of the night in a major category -- 11-year-old New Zealander Anna Paquin's award for supporting actress as the precocious daughter who interprets for Hunter.


Paquin's eyes lit up with amazement when she heard her name. The actress, who said earlier that she had not prepared a speech because she doubted she would win, stood trembling and shaking after being handed her statuette, then rushed through a series of thank yous. She is the youngest Oscar winner since 10-year-old Tatum O'Neal won in the same category for "Paper Moon" 20 years ago.


Tommy Lee Jones, the lawman who doggedly pursues Harrison Ford in "The Fugitive," was best supporting actor. Jones, his head shiny and his face ebullient, came to the stage and cracked, "The only thing I can say at a time like this is that I'm not really bald. I'm happy to be working." He had shaved his head for a movie role as baseball great Ty Cobb.


"Mrs. Doubtfire," starring Robin Williams as a rejected husband who disguises himself as a nanny to be near his children, won for best makeup. "The Age of Innocence" was cited for costume design.


Spain's "Belle Epoque," a sexy romp in the 1931 pre-Franco era, was an underdog winner as best foreign language film.


The ceremonies were held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion a day after a strong aftershock to the Jan. 17 Northridge quake shook the auditorium but left no apparent damage.


Host Whoopi Goldberg, succeeding Billy Crystal, who declined to return after four years, provided most of the drama, peppering her remarks with raunchy humor that drew laughter and some gasps from the star-studded audience.