Drifter solves case of the lost Oscars

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The Independent US

He didn't thank his agent or his mother. He didn't burst into tears or proclaim himself the king of the world. But Willie Fulgear, the man who found this year's missing Oscars next to a rubbish tip behind a discount supermarket, had something not even the great Hollywood legends could compete with.

"I've got more Oscars than any of the movie stars," the 61-year-old drifter beamed as the television networks rushed to interview him on Sunday night.

Fifty-three Oscar statuettes, to be precise, more than the tally chalked up by Katharine Hepburn, Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks combined. Not that Mr Fulgear really got to enjoy the glamour of his find. Instead of being handed his statuettes by a tuxedoed Jack Nicholson, he accidentally rammed his foot into one of the chunky, gold-tipped icons and realised that he had stumbled upon more than just a discarded crate of Coke cans.

The case of the missing Oscars thus took another bizarre twist, guaranteeing that the hosts of Sunday's big night at the Shrine Auditorium would be overflowing with bad jokes.

The statuettes, 55 of them, went missing in an industrial suburb of Los Angeles on or about 8 March while in transit from their manufacturers in Chicago to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Meanwhile, thousands of ballots went missing as they were being sent out to the academy's voting members. Strangely, they were "misrouted" - as the post office's delightful euphemism had it - in the same suburb where the statuettes vanished.

Having handed over the loot, Mr Fulgear had high hopes of receiving the $50,000 reward offered by the manufacturers. But Police said it would depend on whether his discovery helped them track down the thieves.

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