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IMAGE: Hailee Steinfeld
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Hailee Steinfeld is the 73rd first-time performer to compete for an Oscar.
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updated 2/25/2011 11:42:55 AM ET 2011-02-25T16:42:55

The Academy Awards have been kind to actresses making their big-screen debuts. But men in debut performances? Not so much.

With her supporting-actress nomination for the Western "True Grit," 14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld is the 73rd first-time performer to compete for an Oscar in the show's 83-year history.

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Fifty-year-old veteran Melissa Leo is considered the favorite to win supporting actress for "The Fighter." But Steinfeld is nominated in the category that has been especially competitive for beginners — and for child actors.

Slideshow: Young Oscar nominees (on this page)

Of the 72 previous Hollywood novices nominated for Oscars, 31 were up for supporting actress. Eight won, including Jennifer Hudson for 2006's "Dreamgirls," Eva Marie Saint for 1954's "On the Waterfront" and Jo Van Fleet for 1955's "East of Eden."

Two first-timers who won supporting actress were even younger than Steinfeld — 10-year-old Tatum O'Neal for 1973's "Paper Moon" and 11-year-old Anna Paquin for 1993's "The Piano." The only other child actor to win an Oscar, 16-year-old Patty Duke, also earned it in the supporting-actress category, for 1962's "The Miracle Worker."

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Men in debut roles have earned 22 nominations for supporting actor, but only one took the Oscar, Haing S. Ngor for 1984's "The Killing Fields" (that was a fruitful year for male big-screen debuts; along with Ngor, two others were nominated for supporting actor, Adolph Caesar in "A Soldier's Story" and John Malkovich in "Places in the Heart").

Story: Shootout at the 'True Grit' corral: Which film wins?

Sixteen lead actresses picked up Oscar nominations for their first films, most recently, Gabourey Sidibe a year ago for "Precious." Four first-timers won best-actress Oscars: Marlee Matlin for 1986's "Children of a Lesser God," Barbra Streisand for 1968's "Funny Girl," Julie Andrews for 1964's "Mary Poppins" and Shirley Booth for 1952's "Come Back, Little Sheba."

Oscar fans: Cast your vote for best picture

Best-actor nominations have been hard to come by for men in their first big-screen jobs. Only three have been nominated: Lawrence Tibbett for 1930's "The Rogue Song," Orson Welles for 1941's "Citizen Kane" and Montgomery Clift for 1948's "The Search." All three lost.

With "Citizen Kane," Welles also was the first of 21 first-time filmmakers to earn best-director nominations (he lost that one, too, though he did win for original screenplay).

theGrio: Few roles for black actresses

Six first-time filmmakers won the best-directing Oscar, including Robert Redford for 1980's "Ordinary People" and Kevin Costner for 1990's "Dances With Wolves."

Among other supporting players earning Oscar nominations for their first time on screen are Oprah Winfrey (1985's "The Color Purple"), Glenn Close (1982's "The World According to Garp"), Edward Norton (1996's "Primal Fear"), Mikhail Baryshnikov (1977's "The Turning Point"), Lily Tomlin (1975's "Nashville"), Angela Lansbury (1944's "Gaslight") and Sydney Greenstreet (1941's "The Maltese Falcon").

Story: Playing real people can boost Oscar chances

Other best-actress nominees for debut roles include Catalina Sandino Moreno (2004's "Maria Full of Grace"), Keisha Castle-Hughes (2003's "Whale Rider"), Emily Watson (1996's "Breaking the Waves"), Julie Walters (1983's "Educating Rita"), Martha Scott (1940's "Our Town") and Greer Garson (1939's "Goodbye, Mr. Chips").

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Young Oscar nominees

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  1. Quvenzhane Wallis

    Quvenzhane Wallis was nominated for a best actress Oscar on Jan. 10, 2013, for her role in "Beasts of the Southern Wild." If she wins, she will be the youngest Oscar winner ever, beating Tatum O'Neal, who won for "Paper Moon" when she was 10. But she's not the youngest nominee ever -- Justin Henry was nominated for 1979's "Kramer vs. Kramer" when he was 8. (Fox Searchlight Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Girl on a mission

    Hailee Steinfeld was just 13 when she played Mattie Ross, who hires a U.S. marshal played by Jeff Bridges to track down her father's killer in 2010's "True Grit." She was nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar in 2011, but lost to Melissa Leo in "The Fighter." (Paramount Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Irish rose

    Irish actress Saoirse Ronan was 13 when she was nominated for best supporting actress for her role in 2007's "Atonement," losing to Tilda Swinton in "Michael Clayton." (Focus Features) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. So excited

    Abigail Breslin plays Olive, a girl who dreams of competing in a beauty pageant in "Little Miss Sunshine." At just 10 years old, she was nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar. She lost to Jennifer Hudson in "Dreamgirls." Co-star Alan Arkin said he did not want Breslin to win so that she might have a more normal life. (20th Century Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Riding high

    Keisha Castle-Hughes surprised everyone when she was nominated, at just 13, for a best actress Oscar for her role in 2002's "Whale Rider." In the film she played Paikea, a young Maori girl who wants to break through the patriarchy and become the first female chief, proving herself by riding on the back of a whale. Charlize Theron took home the prize that year for her role in "Monster." (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Dead on

    Haley Joel Osment was only 11 when he saw dead people as Cole Sear in 1999's "The Sixth Sense." He was nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar but lost out to Michael Caine's role in "The Cider House Rules." ( Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Hitting the right note

    Anna Paquin starred as Flora McGrath in 1993's "The Piano." In the film, she and her mother (Holly Hunter) are sent to 1850s New Zealand for her mother's arranged marriage to a wealthy landowner (Sam Neill). At age 11, Paquin became the second-youngest person ever to win an Academy Award, beating out Winona Ryder ("Age of Innocence") and Emma Thompson ("In the Name of the Father") for the best supporting actress honor. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Record holder

    Justin Henry was just eight years old when he was nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar for his role as Billy Kramer in 1979's "Kramer vs. Kramer." In the film, he plays a kid caught between divorced parents (Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman). Though Melvyn Douglas took home the Oscar that year for "Being There," Henry still holds the record as the youngest nominee in Oscar history. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Goodbye, obscurity

    In 1977's "The Goodbye Girl" Quinn Cummings and Marsha Mason starred as a mother and daughter who are tired of getting dumped on by men. Cummings lost the best supporting actress Oscar to Vanessa Redgrave in "Julia," but went on to a co-starring role on the TV series, "Family." ( Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Scorsese's gal

    Jodie Foster was only 14 when she took on the role of prostitute Iris Steensma in Martin Scorsese's 1976 film, "Taxi Driver." Cabbie Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) decides he needs to save Foster's character from her life. She was nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar, but lost out to Beatrice Straight for her role in "Network." (Courtesy Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Devilish performance

    Linda Blair was just 14 when she starred as Regan Teresa MacNeil in the 1973 film "The Exorcist." In the William Friedkin-directed film, she played a young girl possessed by the devil. She was nominated for best supporting actress but lost out to Tatum O'Neal in "Paper Moon." (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Little darling

    Tatum O'Neal starred with dad Ryan in 1973's "Paper Moon," in which the pair played a couple of con artists on the road. Tatum became the youngest person ever to win an Oscar when she took home the best supporting actress statuette at age 10. She beat out co-star Madeline Kahn, Candy Clark ("American Graffiti") and Linda Blair ("The Exorcist"). (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Picking a pocket or two

    Jack Wild starred as the Artful Dodger in the 1968 Oscar-winning musical "Oliver!" He was nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar but lost out to Jack Albertson for his role in "The Subject Was Roses." (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Sweet 16

    Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke starred together as Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller in 1962's "The Miracle Worker." Both actresses took home Oscars, Duke for best supporting actress and Bancroft for best actress. At 16, Duke became the youngest actress to win up to that point, beating out favorite Angela Lansbury ("The Manchurian Candidate"). (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Scouting out Oscar

    Mary Badham, just 10, was nominated for her role as Jean Louise "Scout" Finch in 1962's "To Kill a Mockingbird." She lost to another child actress, Patty Duke in "The Miracle Worker." Badham's on-screen dad (Gregory Peck) did take home the best actor Oscar. "To Kill a Mockingbird" was Badham's first film role. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. 10 ain't too young

    Jackie Cooper, 9, was nominated for a best actor Oscar for his role in the 1931 film "Skippy," in which he played a boy who made friends with a boy from the wrong side of the tracks, and then tries to prevent the destruction of the shantytown where his new friend lives. At the time, he was the youngest actor ever nominated. He lost out to Lionel Barrymore for his role in "A Free Soul." (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Fox Searchlight Pictures
    Above: Slideshow (16) Young Oscar nominees
  2. Image: Cher
    Eugene Adebari / Rex USA
    Slideshow (15) Most unforgettable Oscar looks
  3. Image: Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow
    Steve Granitz / WireImage
    Slideshow (10) 10 best Oscar looks

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