Oscar

Oscar

[os-ker]
Lewis, Oscar, 1914-70, American anthropologist, b. New York City, grad. City College of New York (B.S.S., 1936) and Columbia (Ph.D., 1940). He was a professor of anthropology at Washington Univ. (St. Louis) from 1946 to 1948 and after that at the Univ. of Illinois. His theory of the culture of poverty holds that the poor in modern capitalist societies represent an identifiable culture that transcends national differences, and that the social and psychological consequences of poverty are severe and difficult to overcome. Much of his work describes the lives of poor Hispanics in the United States and Latin America. Among his works are Five Families (1959), The Children of Sánchez (1961), La Vida (1966), and Anthropological Essays (1970).
Niemeyer Soares, Oscar, 1907-, Brazil's foremost 20th-century architect, b. Rio de Janeiro. Influenced by Le Corbusier, Niemeyer developed an architecture noted for its daring conception, purity of line, and formal lyricism; it is frequently characterized by curving forms and soaring spans of reinforced concrete. Offering an alternative to the strict rectangles of the International style, he frequently worked with organic shapes and is often credited with introducing sensuality into modernist architecture. He was one of the chief collaborators in the design of the ministry of education in Rio de Janeiro (1937-43), which marked the first use of the modernist curtain wall. With Lúcio Costa and P. L. Wiener, Niemeyer designed the Brazilian Pavilion for the New York World's Fair in 1939. For Pampulha, in Belo Horizonte, he planned several major buildings, notably its casino. In 1947 he collaborated on the design for the United Nations headquarters in New York City.

Niemeyer directed the creation of Brazil's new capital, Brasília (1950-60), within Costa's master plan. His remarkable original work on this project brought him enormous acclaim, and it is usually considered his masterpiece. In later years, the city has been widely criticized as a mistake in urban planning, ill-conceived because it has no relation to its jungle site or, with its wide soulless spaces, to the patterns of life in Brazil. Nonetheless, the government buildings designed by Niemeyer—particularly the presidential residence, foreign ministry, and Supreme Court—continue to win high praise for their graceful moderninsm. Niemeyer's later buildings include the headquarters for the French Communist party in Paris (1965), the Mondadori Publishing House in Milan (1968), Constantine Univ. in Algeria (1969), and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Niterói, just outside Rio (1996). In 1988 Niemeyer was awarded the Pritzker Prize.

See his memoir, The Curves of Time (tr. 2000); biographical studies by S. Papadaki (1960) and R. Spade, ed. (1971); studies by D. K. Underwood (1994), M. Salvaing (2002), and A. Hess (2006).

Handlin, Oscar, 1915-, American historian, b. Brooklyn, N.Y. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1940 and has taught there since 1939. Most of his work is in U.S. social and economic history, particularly in the influence of immigration on American culture. With his wife, Mary F. Handlin, he wrote Commonwealth (1947), a study of the economy and of the role of government in Massachusetts during the period 1774-1861. He won the 1952 Pulitzer Prize in history for The Uprooted (1951, 2d enl. ed. 1973), a history of the immigration movements to America after 1820. Among his other works are Boston's Immigrants, 1790-1865 (1941, rev. and enl. ed. 1959); Adventure in Freedom; 300 Years of Jewish Life in America (1954); Race and Nationality in American Life (1957); The Newcomers—Negroes and Puerto Ricans in a Changing Metropolis (1959); and The Dimensions of Liberty (1961).
Arias Sánchez, Oscar, 1941-, president of Costa Rica (1986-90, 2006-). He was financial adviser to the president (1970-72), minister of national planning (1972-77), and congressman (1978-82). As president, he attempted to address Costa Rica's massive economic problems; his chief concern, however, was to work for the restoration of peace in Central America. Intent on preserving his nation's historic role as a neutral and demilitarized country, he opposed the previous administration's policy of allowing U.S.-backed Nicaraguan contras to operate from Costa Rican territory. In 1987, he led a regional peace initiative that called for a cease-fire, the granting of amnesty to political prisoners and the holding of free and democratic elections in each of the Central American countries. In 1987, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He was elected president for a second time, by a narrow margin, in 2006.
de La Renta, Oscar, 1932-, French fashion designer, b. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He studied in Madrid and began a career in fashion with Balenciaga. Moving to France in the 1960s, he became known for his luxurious clothes, especially evening wear, of extravagant materials. He designed for Elizabeth Arden in New York and also established his own firm that produced romantic and opulent clothes. His designs encompass everything from bathing suits to wedding dresses, furs, perfumes, and linens.
Hammerstein, Oscar, 1846-1919, German-American operatic impresario. In 1888 he built the Harlem Opera House, and in 1906 the Manhattan Opera House, where he gave noteworthy productions. He brought many fine singers to the United States, and introduced Louise, Pelléas et Mélisande, and Elektra to the American public. In 1910 the Metropolitan Opera Company bought his interests. Upon the failure (1913) of an operatic venture in London, he returned to New York and built the Lexington Theater, where he produced varied entertainments.
Hammerstein, Oscar, 2d, 1895-1960, American lyricist and librettist, b. New York City, grad. Columbia Univ., 1916; grandson of Oscar Hammerstein. His first success was Wildflower (1923), with music by Vincent Youmans. Thereafter, he collaborated with Rudolf Friml on Rose Marie (1924); with Jerome Kern on Sunny (1925) and Show Boat (1927); and with Sigmund Romberg on Desert Song (1926) and The New Moon (1928). With the composer Richard Rodgers he brought to the stage musicals such as Oklahoma! (1943; Pulitzer Prize), Carousel (1945), South Pacific (1949; Pulitzer Prize), and The King and I (1951)—all of which gave new distinction to the American musical through their integration of musical, dramatic, and dance elements. Hammerstein wrote the lyrics to many famous songs, including "The Last Time I Saw Paris" and "It Might As Well Be Spring," which won Academy Awards.

See biographies by D. Taylor (1953), S. Green (1963), J. F. Cone (1966), J. Hammond (1970), and H. Fordin (1977); E. Mordden, Rodgers and Hammerstein (1992); S. Citron, Wordsmiths: Oscar Hammerstein 2nd and Alan Jay Lerner (1995).

Wilde, Oscar (Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde), 1854-1900, Irish author and wit, b. Dublin. He is most famous for his sophisticated, brilliantly witty plays, which were the first since the comedies of Sheridan and Goldsmith to have both dramatic and literary merit. He studied at Trinity College, Dublin, and at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he distinguished himself for his scholarship and wit, and also for his elegant eccentricity in dress, tastes, and manners. Influenced by the aesthetic teachings of Walter Pater and John Ruskin, Wilde became the center of a group glorifying beauty for itself alone, and he was famously satirized (with other exponents of "art for art's sake") in Punch and in Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta Patience. His first published work, Poems (1881), was well received. The next year he lectured to great acclaim in the United States, where his drama Vera (1883) was produced. In 1884 he married Constance Lloyd, and they had two sons, Cyril and Vyvyan.

Later he began writing for and editing periodicals, but his active literary career began with the publication of Lord Arthur Savile's Crime and Other Stories (1891) and two collections of fairy tales, The Happy Prince (1888) and The House of Pomegranates (1892). In 1891 his novel Picture of Dorian Gray appeared. A tale of horror, it depicts the corruption of a beautiful young man pursuing an ideal of sensual indulgence and moral indifference; although he himself remains young and handsome, his portrait becomes ugly, reflecting his degeneration.

Wilde's stories and essays were well received, but his creative genius found its highest expression in his plays—Lady Windermere's Fan (1892), A Woman of No Importance (1893), An Ideal Husband (1895), and his masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), which were all extremely clever and filled with pithy epigrams and paradoxes. Wilde explained away their lack of depth by saying that he put his genius into his life and only his talent into his books. He also wrote two historical tragedies, The Duchess of Padua (1892) and Salomé (1893).

In 1891, Wilde met and quite soon became intimate with the considerably younger, handsome, and dissolute Lord Alfred Douglas (nicknamed "Bosie"). Soon the marquess of Queensberry, Douglas's father, began railing against Wilde and later wrote him a note accusing him of homosexual practices. Foolishly, Wilde brought action for libel against the marquess and was himself charged with homosexual offenses under the Criminal Law Amendment, found guilty, and sentenced (1895) to prison for two years. His experiences in jail inspired his most famous poem, The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898), and the apology published by his literary executor as De Profundis (1905). Released from prison in 1897, Wilde found himself a complete social outcast in England and, plagued by ill health and bankruptcy, lived in France under an assumed name until his death.

See his collected works, ed. by R. Ross (1969); letters, ed. by R. Hart-Davis (1962); complete letters, ed. by M. Holland and R. Hart-Davis (2000); notebooks, ed. by P. E. Smith 2d and M. S. Helfant (1989); biographies by R. Ellman (1988) and P. Raby (1988); studies by M. Fido (1974), N. Kohl (1989), and G. Woodcock (1989).

Straus, Oscar, 1870-1954, Austrian composer; studied in Vienna and with Max Bruch in Berlin. After a brief career as conductor he turned entirely to composition. His operas and instrumental works are eclipsed by his successful operettas, particularly A Waltz Dream (1907) and The Chocolate Soldier (1908; based on G. B. Shaw's Arms and the Man). During the early 1930s Straus wrote scores for films in Hollywood. In 1939 he became a French citizen, and in 1940 he moved to the United States.
Robertson, Oscar, 1938-, U.S. basketball player, b. Charlotte, Tenn. Passionately devoted to basketball as a youth, Robertson led his high school team to 45 consecutive victories. After an athletically brilliant college career at the Univ. of Cincinnati, Robertson, known as the "Big O," joined the Cincinnati Royals of the National Basketball Association. Robertson, only 6 ft 4 in. (193 cm) in height, scored 26,710 points for the Royals (1960-70) and the Milwaukee Bucks (1970-72). His career total of 9,887 assists marks him as a superb playmaker.
Osorio, Oscar, 1910-69, president of El Salvador (1950-56). A peasant farmer, he joined the army and rose to the rank of major. As a member of the junta that seized power in 1948, he served as provisional executive until his election in 1950. Under his rule, the country's first social-security legislation was enacted, a more liberal constitution was adopted, housing was improved, and labor unions were legalized. Osorio was succeeded (1956) by his hand-picked successor, Lt. Col. José María Lemus.
Hertwig, Oscar, 1849-1922, German embryologist. He studied medicine with Haeckel and Gegenbaur. In 1875 he established the fact that fertilization consists of the union of the nuclei of a male and a female sex cell. He studied the germ-layer theory (introducing the term coelom) and malformations of vertebrate embryos.

Oscar Wilde, 1882.

(born Oct. 16, 1854, Dublin, Ire.—died Nov. 30, 1900, Paris, France) Irish poet and dramatist. Son of an eminent surgeon, Wilde attended Trinity College, Dublin, and later Oxford University, becoming widely known for his wit while still an undergraduate. A spokesman for Aestheticism, in the early 1880s he gave a lecture tour in the U.S. and established himself in London circles by his wit and flamboyance. His only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), combines gothic elements with mockery of bourgeois morality. His macabre play Salomé (1893) was later adapted as the libretto of Richard Strauss's opera; his other plays, all successes, include Lady Windermere's Fan (1893), A Woman of No Importance (1893), and An Ideal Husband (1895). His greatest work was the comedy The Importance of Being Earnest (1899), a satire of Victorian social hypocrisy. Two critical dialogues, “The Decay of Lying” and “The Critic as Artist,” are admired as equally brilliant. Though happily married, in 1891 he began an intimate relationship with the young Lord Alfred Douglas, son of the marquess of Queensberry. Accused by Queensberry of being a sodomite, Wilde sued for libel and lost, then was arrested for sodomy and convicted in a trial that became internationally notorious. Imprisoned at Reading Gaol (1895–97), he wrote a recriminatory letter to his lover that was edited and published as De Profundis (1905). After his release, he moved to Paris; his only later work was The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898), on inhumane prison conditions. He died suddenly of acute meningitis.

Learn more about Wilde, Oscar (Fingal O'Flahertie Wills) with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(born Nov. 24, 1938, Charlotte, Tenn., U.S.) U.S. basketball player. He was the first African American to play for the University of Cincinnati. Drafted by the Cincinnati Royals of the NBA in 1960, he averaged double figures in points (30.8), rebounds (12.5), and assists (11.4) per game in 1961–62, a feat unmatched by any other player. He played for the Milwaukee Bucks (1970–74) and helped the team win a championship in 1970. He ended his career with 26,710 points, 7,804 rebounds, and 9,887 assists.

Learn more about Robertson, Oscar (Palmer) with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(born Nov. 24, 1938, Charlotte, Tenn., U.S.) U.S. basketball player. He was the first African American to play for the University of Cincinnati. Drafted by the Cincinnati Royals of the NBA in 1960, he averaged double figures in points (30.8), rebounds (12.5), and assists (11.4) per game in 1961–62, a feat unmatched by any other player. He played for the Milwaukee Bucks (1970–74) and helped the team win a championship in 1970. He ended his career with 26,710 points, 7,804 rebounds, and 9,887 assists.

Learn more about Robertson, Oscar (Palmer) with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Oscar Wilde, 1882.

(born Oct. 16, 1854, Dublin, Ire.—died Nov. 30, 1900, Paris, France) Irish poet and dramatist. Son of an eminent surgeon, Wilde attended Trinity College, Dublin, and later Oxford University, becoming widely known for his wit while still an undergraduate. A spokesman for Aestheticism, in the early 1880s he gave a lecture tour in the U.S. and established himself in London circles by his wit and flamboyance. His only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), combines gothic elements with mockery of bourgeois morality. His macabre play Salomé (1893) was later adapted as the libretto of Richard Strauss's opera; his other plays, all successes, include Lady Windermere's Fan (1893), A Woman of No Importance (1893), and An Ideal Husband (1895). His greatest work was the comedy The Importance of Being Earnest (1899), a satire of Victorian social hypocrisy. Two critical dialogues, “The Decay of Lying” and “The Critic as Artist,” are admired as equally brilliant. Though happily married, in 1891 he began an intimate relationship with the young Lord Alfred Douglas, son of the marquess of Queensberry. Accused by Queensberry of being a sodomite, Wilde sued for libel and lost, then was arrested for sodomy and convicted in a trial that became internationally notorious. Imprisoned at Reading Gaol (1895–97), he wrote a recriminatory letter to his lover that was edited and published as De Profundis (1905). After his release, he moved to Paris; his only later work was The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898), on inhumane prison conditions. He died suddenly of acute meningitis.

Learn more about Wilde, Oscar (Fingal O'Flahertie Wills) with a free trial on Britannica.com.

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