I must admit I never watch the Academy Awards ceremony nowadays for two reasons. I have rarely seen the films nominated and don't really know anything about many of the nominees. However, I was once an avid fan and have just purchased from America copies of the televised award ceremonies from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. The acceptance speeches were rarely more than one sentence long and it is a joy to see so many veteran stars.

Bob Hope was the MC for many years and it is fun to watch him joke with presenters such as Humphrey Bogart. It was an honour for me to meet Bob in Hollywood back in the early 1990s thanks to the then Mayor of Hollywood.

There are fun moments when things went wrong. On one occasion Charlton Heston was supposed to host part of the ceremony but suffered a flat tyre on the way to the venue. They shoved on a nervous young Clint Eastwood, who admitted he was all at sea as he had only said a handful of words in 17 movies, which got a round of applause. As he started to read the cue cards written for Heston he started stumbling but luckily Charlton rushed on stage at the last moment. I have never met Clint but did meet Charlton at Elstree Studios. I would not describe him as a modest man, but what a career.

The tapes show two actors turning down their Oscars and not turning up. These were the only times in the Academy's history and ironically both were considered the greatest screen actors Hollywood ever produced. George C Scott declined his Best Actor award for Patton and said he was busy at home watching a hockey game. A shame as he never really rose to the heights again and died in 1999. He apparently now lays in an unmarked grave in a Hollywood cemetery.

Marlon Brando did the same thing when he was awarded an Oscar for his role in the Godfather, but he sent a young native American girl to read out a message condemning Tinsel Town's portrayal of such people, who we used to refer to as Red Indians. It got boos from the audience. Brando went on to do Last Tango In Paris but thereafter became a bloated figure selling himself to the highest bidder. His appearance in Superman earned him about $1 million dollars a day and he read his lines off what we used to call idiot boards. It was a long way from On The Waterfront and A Streetcar Named Desire. After his death his ashes were scattered in Death Valley and his script from the Godfather sold for $312,800 a world record in 2005.

What happens to the Oscar statuettes? They estimate probably 150 now reside in collectors' hands. Since the 1950s the Academy has insisted that any winner or their heirs intending to sell an Oscar must first offer it back to the Academy for one dollar. However, that rule does not apply to the early years, hence a collector owns the Best Picture Oscar for An American In Paris, which he bought for just $16,000 in 1989. Magician David Copperfield owns the Best Director award for Casablanca and another collector bought the Best Screenplay award for $861,000. In 1999 Michael Jackson bought David O Selznick's producers Oscar for Gone With The Wind for a record $1,500,000. Where is it now? Steven Spielberg stepped in and purchased the Oscar won by Bette Davis for Best Actress in Jezebel for $578,000 and donated it back to the Academy.

I have held three Oscars in years gone past. One belonged to George Bernard Shaw at his home at Shaws Corner, although I was not supposed to touch it, one that went to the late Bill Rowe for his post production work at Elstree Studios for The Last Emperor and a special that went to silent screen star Douglas Fairbanks which Douglas Fairbanks Jr showed me in his New York apartment. Happy memories.