Oscars at home in Signal Museum
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

On Sunday, Hollywood's brightest stars will turn out en masse to find out if films such as Up, The Blind Side or The Hurt Locker will take home Tinseltown's highest honor - the Oscar.

However, years before people like Sandra Bullock, Meryl Streep and George Clooney made their grand entrances down the red carpet to find out if they'd won the coveted award, another group of Hollywood legends produced award-winning films for the Army leaving a piece of Hollywood on display at the Signal Corps Museum.

Darryl Zanuck, who headed 20th Century Fox and received the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Irving Thalberg Memorial Award, was a colonel in the Signal Corps during World War II. Also in the Signal Corps during World War II was Oscar winning director Frank Capra, and Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.

The efforts of these and others who served in Astoria, N.Y. with the 834th Signal Service Photographic Detachment at the Signal Corps Photographic Center produced military training films as well as Academy Award winning documentaries after the war, according to Signal Corps Museum director Robert Anzuoni. The Photographic Center was later renamed the Signal Corps Pictorial Center.

"We have three Oscars," said Anzuoni.

Two post-war documentaries were awarded the golden statuette in 1946 and 1948. Seeds of Destiny won in 1946, and Toward Independence won in 1948. An exhibit in the Signal Corps Museum pays tribute to those pioneering motion picture makers.

The 13 and a half inch tall golden statuette as well as the original 1946 film Seeds of Destiny are part of the exhibit.

Anzuoni said the exhibit is one of those eyebrow raisers in the museum as most patrons don't expect to see such an artifact alongside Army uniforms and vintage radios.

A third Oscar for Frank Capra's Prelude to War is currently at the Museum and will be on display throughout the 150th Anniversary of the Signal Corps.

In addition to its Oscar-winning status, the pictorial center had another landmark distinction.

Percy Ricks Jr., an Augusta resident who died in 2002, had the distinction of being the first African-American first sergeant in a racially integrated unit with the pictorial center in 1946. He was 26 years-old at the time.

Ricks' uniform as well a photograph and biography are on display. A room in the Signal Corps Museum was named in his honor.