Denzel Washington won the Oscar as best supporting actor Monday night for his performance as a runaway slave turned Civil War soldier in ``Glory.'
``My son said he was going to make one of these out of clay for me, now I've got a model for him,' an exultant Washington said in thanks as he held up his gold statuette, first award of the evening.``Is that for me or are you just glad I'm not Snow White?' host Billy Crystal cracked as he stepped out a few minutes earlier to applause from the crowd that packed the Los Angeles Music Center for the 62nd annual Academy Awards. He was referring to last year's widely panned opening dance between actor Rob Lowe and a life-size replica of the fairy tale heroine.
The show got under way before a live television audience estimated worldwide at 1 billion.
Among the nominees for best picture was ``Driving Miss Daisy,' the gentle story of a Jewish widow and her black chauffeur, ``Born on the Fourth of July,' an explosive view of the Vietnam War and its aftermath, and three underdog contenders: ``My Left Foot,' ``Dead Poets Society' and ``Field of Dreams.'
Opinions were mixed among fans at the Music Center, where scores with sleeping bags began the long wait on Sunday night and traffic was already congested by midday. A banner proclaimed: ``Best actress - Jessica Lange, Best actor - Morgan Freeman.' Lange was nominated for her performance as a lawyer defending her father against Nazi war crime charges in ``The Music Box'; Freeman as the patient chauffeur in ``Daisy.'
Most of the younger crowd favored Tom Cruise, who played paraplegic vet Ron Kovic in ``Fourth of July.'
No matter whom they favored, the waiting fans were unanimous on one point: the seating was lousy.
``We have only 1,250 bleacher seats this year, compared to 2,000 in past years at the Music Center,' said Bob Werden, Academy publicist. ``We had even more at the Shrine Auditorium in the past two years.'
Bleacher seating was reduced to make room for a huge tent in the Music Center plaza, where the Board of Governors Ball will be staged.
Monday night's show marked the first time the Oscars have gone truly international. Besides the announcements at the Music Center, envelopes were sent to entertainers for unsealing in four other cities:
Art direction by Glenn Close and Mel Gibson in London; foreign language film by Jack Lemmon and Russian actress Netalya Negoda in Moscow; sound and sound effects editing by Bryan Brown and Rachel Ward in Sydney; documentaries and shorts by Charlton Heston and Norma Aleandro in Buenos Aires.
``I looked at every awards show since 1955, and one thing stands out: how much the Oscars reflect the times,' said the show's producer, Gilbert Cates.