The 1974 Oscars Streaker: Stealing The Show By Showing His 'Shortcomings'

By Rebeka Knott
Robert Opal (left) streaking across the stage at the 1974 Academy Awards; co-host, David Niven (right). Source: (cnn.com)

The 1974 Academy Awards ceremony will always be remembered for its least expected performer -- the Oscar streaker. Robert Opel dashed across the stage in his birthday suit just as David Niven was trying to introduce co-host Elizabeth Taylor. It was not the first shocking Oscar moment -- just the previous year, Sacheen Littlefeather had declined Marlon Brando's Best Actor award -- but it's the most colorful. In fact, it's not just the most infamous moment in Oscars history; the Oscars Streaker Robert Opel's nude dash across the stage is also the most infamous streak ever executed.


Streaking was a huge fad in 1974, so the appearance of a nude man at an event wasn't that out of the ordinary. Streaking had emerged as both a popular way for protesters to attract attention and a mindless way for college students to push boundaries. Those who witnessed streakers often didn't know whether the nude person had an agenda to promote or was just doing it for the cheap thrill. Oscar streaker Robert Opel, it turns out, did have a political viewpoint, although he was also clearly in it for the thrill as well.