Only One Person in History Won the Best Picture Oscar Two Years in a Row

Only One Person in History Won the Best Picture Oscar Two Years in a Row
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His movies were great; his behavior was not.


  • Producer David O. Selznick remains the only person to ever win two Best Picture Oscars in a row.
  • Gone With The Wind (1939) and Rebecca (1940) were both produced by Selznick.
  • Although many still love his movies, Selznick has a complicated and violent legacy.

It's an incredible achievement for a person to win even one Academy Award, let alone two. Only one man has ever achieved the borderline impossible – winning two Best Picture Oscars back to back.

Producer Extraordinaire

David O. Selznick is best remembered for being the man behind Gone with the Wind, directed by Victor Fleming in 1939. Adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Margaret Mitchell, Gone With The Wind starred Vivien Leigh as the stubborn southern belle and plantation heiress Scarlett O'Hara.

As the civil war rages, Scarlett falls for the sweet, unavailable Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard). She remains passionately committed to Ashley even while being courted by and married to the fierce Rhett Butler (Clark Gable).

Gone With The Wind won a whopping eight Academy Awards. The Best Picture prize went to Selznick, the film's passionate producer.

Two For Two

The next year Selznick became the first (and still only) man to win an Oscar two years in a row. The second statuette went to his work on Rebecca, a gothic drama based on a novel of the same name by Daphne du Maurier.

In Rebecca, a naive young girl marries the rich, handsome widower Maxim de Winter. The honeymoon lasts until she travels with him to his old manor home, which seems to be haunted by the ghost of Maxim's former wife – who died under mysterious circumstances.

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Alfred Hitchcock made an almost-perfect adaptation of this gothic classic with Laurence Olivier as the mysterious Maxim and Joan Fontaine as his young wife. The movie received eleven Academy Award nominations, and became the only Best Picture win that Hitchcock ever had (remember that for your next trivia night).

Once again producer Selznick took home an Oscar for his work on the film.

A Fast Ascent

Selznick started off as a humble script reader, but by the age of 33 he was running his own studio. He was only 36 when he was on set supervising Gone With The Wind, one of the most expensive movies Hollywood had ever made at that time (second only to Ben-Hur).

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Selznick was famous for his passion and attention to detail, a trait which resulted in great work but which sometimes caused friction with his directors and the stars. Famously, he once sent Vivien Leigh so many notes on the set of Gone With The Wind that it took her 10 days to respond to them all.

A Complicated Legacy

Selznick changed Hollywood forever. He was responsible for bringing Alfred Hitchcock to America, and Gone With The Wind remains one of the most influential films of all time. However, his legacy is overshadowed by his reputation for gambling, womanizing, and sexual assault.

In her memoir, Shirley Temple recalls being warned not to be alone with Selznick if he was in stockinged feet – that was the sign that he was ready to pounce. Sure enough, one day she was in the office when the producer locked the door and attempted to rape her. She was 17 at the time.

The movies also have some dark history behind them. Although both Gone With The Wind and Rebecca remain beloved by many, the former's legacy is tarnished by racism both on and offscreen. The movie was protested by Black people across America for its racist portrayal of Black characters, and several Black-owned movie theaters refused to screen the film.

One of Gone With The Wind's Oscars was a Best Supporting Actress Award for Hattie McDaniel, who played Scarlett's opinionated maid Mammy. McDaniel was the first Black person to ever win an Oscar, but due to segregation at the time she was not allowed to sit with the rest of the cast. In the meantime, It would be almost a quarter century before another Black person won an Oscar (Sidney Poitier for Lilies of The Field, 1963).

Gone With The Wind is available to stream on Max, or to rent on Prime Video. Rebecca is available to watch for free on YouTube.