The Untold Truth Of Miracle On 34th Street

The film that few believed would succeed made an impressive showing at the 1948 Academy Awards with four nominations. “Miracle on 34th Street” would take honors for three of its Oscar nods: Valentine Davies took home a statuette for Best Writing, Original Story. Writer/director George Seaton won for Best Screenplay, and Edmund Gwenn, Santa himself, was honored for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Although the film was nominated for Best Picture, it lost to the drama “Gentleman’s Agreement.”

As documented by Oscars.org, Gwenn faced stiff competition for Best Supporting Actor with his iconic turn as Kris Kringle pitted against such talents as Charles Bickford, Thomas Gomez, Robert Ryan, and Richard Widmark. Gwenn accepted his Oscar with a relieved exhalation proclaiming, “Now I know there’s a Santa Claus!” Praising “Miracle on  34th Street’s” director, the actor joked, “[Santa] is a most elusive little fellow! … The first time I ever met him, he told me his name was George Seaton. And wonderfully, George Seaton had his revenge by bringing him to life!”

According to Sarah Parker Danielson, author of “Miracle on 34th Street: A Hollywood Classic,” Gwenn regarded his Oscar win as a recognition for his comedic skills. Danielson writes that Gwenn maintained his impish wit to the very end, “When on his deathbed, he was visited by [Seaton], who seeing him in pain, said, ‘Oh, Teddy, it must be awfully hard,'” Danielson writes. “‘Yes,’ Gwenn gamely replied with a smile, ‘but not as hard as playing comedy.'”

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