Lionel Richie, Cher, Bruce Springsteen and more: Celebrities you didn't know won an Academy Award

With the 93rd Academy Awards coming up on Sunday, a slew of notable stars will earn recognition from the Academy for the first time.

Since 1929, a wide range of talent has been honored, from chart-topping singers like Elton John and Bob Dylan to legends on and off the court, like the late Kobe Bryant.

Check out these past Oscar winners:

Stevie Wonder

The legendary singer won an Academy Award for best original song for his hit, “I Just Called To Say I Love You,” in 1985.

PHOTO: Stevie Wonder holds his Oscar award for the category of Best Song, 
March 25, 1985,

“I cannot, I cannot believe it. I really cannot believe it,” he said during his acceptance speech. “I must share this with you … All through Europe I had dreams — and I would always wake up — that I was at an awards show and the nominees were coming up, and they’d say this song and this song, and the winner is … And I would wake up. But I never thought that this would happen.”

“I would like to accept this award in the name of Nelson Mandela,” he added, also thanking Dionne Warwick, Gene Wilder and his family, among others.

Elton John

John and his collaborator Tim Rice won an Oscar for best original song for their hit “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from “The Lion King” in 1995. He dedicated the award to his grandmother, Ivy Sewell, who died a week before the show.

PHOTO: Elton John attends the The 67th Annual Academy Awards, March 27, 1995.

“She was the one that sat me down at the piano when I was three and made me play, so I’m accepting this in her honor,” he said during his acceptance speech.

Carly Simon

Simon took home the original song award for “Let The River Run” from “Working Girl” in 1989.

PHOTO: Carly Simon attends the 61st Annual Academy Awards, March 29, 1989, at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

“Thank you to my husband, Jim Hart, for writing the best lines in the song,” she said while accepting the award, acknowledging her ex, who she divorced in 2007.

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Bob Dylan

PHOTO: Bob Dylan is shown on a giant screen at the 73rd Annual Academy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, March 25, 2001. Dylan won the Oscar for Best Original Song for "Things Have Changed" from the movie "Wonder Boys."

His hit “Things Have Changed” from “Wonder Boys” won him an Academy Award in 2000.

Kobe Bryant

The late NBA legend won an Oscar for his animated short film “Dear Basketball” in 2018. It was his first Oscar nomination and win.

PHOTO: Kobe Bryant poses at the 90th Annual Academy Awards, March 4, 2018, in Hollywood, Calif.


His hit “Lose Yourself” helped him become an Academy Award-winning rapper in 2003. He did not attend the ceremony to receive the award in-person.

PHOTO: Eminem attends the New York premiere of "Southpaw," July 20, 2015, in New York.

Eminem made a surprise appearance at the 2020 Oscars, taking the stage to perform his hit, “Lose Yourself,” from the 2002 film “8 Mile.”


She won an Academy Award for for “Skyfall” from the 2012 James Bond film.

PHOTO: Adele, winner of the Best Original Song award for 'Skyfall,' poses in the press room during the Oscars, Feb. 24, 2013, in Hollywood, Calif.

Watch her acceptance speech here.

This is the first song I ever wrote for a motion picture, so I guess it’s all downhill from here.

Bruce Springsteen

He took home the best original song award for “Streets Of Philadelphia” from “Philadelphia” in 1994.

PHOTO: Musician Bruce Springsteen holding his Oscar in Press Room at the Academy Awards, March 21, 1994.

“This is the first song I ever wrote for a motion picture, so I guess it’s all downhill from here,” he joked during his acceptance speech.

“You do your best work and you hope that it pulls out the best in your audience and some piece of it spills over into the real world and into people’s everyday lives, and it takes the edge off of fear and allows us to recognize each other through our veil of differences,” he added.

Three 6 Mafia

The group not only became the first hip-hop group to perform at the Academy Awards in 2006, but they also won the best original song award for “It’s Hard Out Here For a Pimp” from “Hustle & Flow” at the show.

PHOTO: Cedric Coleman, Jordan Houston and Paul Beauregard of Three 6 Mafia, win the Oscar for Best Song, March 5, 2006, in Hollywood, Calif.

Lionel Richie

Another artist who has taken home the award for best original song? Lionel Richie for his hit “Say You, Say Me” from “White Nights” in 1986.

PHOTO: Lionel Richie attends the Oscars, March 24, 1986.

“In the truest sense of the word I will say to you that this represents a dream come true,” he said while accepting the award. “Many, many years of believing and dreaming and a lot of friends and a lot of family that said, ‘You can do it, just keep on trying hard.’ I want to say to all of them and to all the people that have supported me over the years, thank you very much for keeping up with my foolishness.”

This represents a dream come true.

Check out his acceptance speech here.


The singer won a best actress Oscar for her performance in 1987 drama “Moonstruck.”

PHOTO: Cher shows off both her Oscar and Bob Mackie black-sequined gown after winning the award for best actress for her role as the superstitious young widow of "Moonstruck" at the 60th Annual Academy Awards, April 12, 1988 in Los Angeles.

Sam Smith

The singer’s acceptance speech for “Writing’s on the Wall” at the 88th Academy Awards in 2016 was fraught with controversy.

Smith said, “I read an article a few months ago by Sir Ian McKellen, and he said that no openly gay man had ever won an Oscar … and if this is the case, even if it isn’t the case, I want to dedicate this to the LGBT community all around the world.”

PHOTO: Sam Smith poses with the Oscar for Best Original Song during the 88th Oscars in Hollywood, Calif., Feb. 28, 2016.

Several openly gay performers, including Elton John and Dustin Lance Black, have previously won Oscars. Smith later acknowledged the mistake.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published on Feb. 6, 2020.

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