David Niven Interrupted by Streaker at the 1974 Oscars

Robert Opel dashed naked from across from the backstage during the 46th Academy Awards ceremony, and flashed a peace sign with his fingers as he jogged offstage. David Niven was in the middle of an introduction for Elizabeth Taylor as this, the first televised streak occurred, on April 2, 1974, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles.

Streaking was an epidemic in 1973/1974, although there had been multiple situations where ‘non-crazy’ people ran off into the public without clothes, usually to make a point or win a bet. Often, drinking was involved.

Robert, part time photographer for The Advocate, a LGBT publication, became a minor celebrity after the incident. Rumors persist that the event was actually planned, with Oscar producer Jack Haley, Jr. in on the plot.

“Well, ladies and gentlemen, that was almost bound to happen… But isn’t it fascinating to think that probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings?”

The Sting, featuing Paul Newmman and Robert Redford was the other big winner that night, earning 7 Oscars, including best picture.