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These 12 people have won the most Oscars of all time

Academy Awards.
Academy Awards.Al Seib/A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images
  • The 96th Academy Awards are on Sunday, March 10.

  • Some of the recipients of the most Oscars in history never set foot in front of the camera.

  • Walt Disney holds the record for the most wins, taking home 22 from 59 nominations.

When you think of Oscar winners, your mind might go to some of the biggest names in Hollywood, like Meryl Streep, Denzel Washington, or Greta Gerwig.

But some of the winningest individuals in Oscars history actually made their impacts on film behind the scenes, designing costumes for "Roman Holiday," bringing dinosaurs to life in "Jurassic Park," and composing songs for "The Little Mermaid."

While stars such as Streep, Frances McDormand, and Daniel Day-Lewis have won three acting Oscars each, some lesser-known names have won many more.

Get to know the achievements and contributions of the 12 people with the most competitive Academy Awards in history.

Gordon Hollingshead won seven Oscars throughout his career, including one for best assistant director, a category that no longer exists.

Gordon Hollingshead's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Gordon Hollingshead's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.Walter Cicchetti/Shutterstock

Hollingshead — whose movie career spanned from 1916 to his death in 1952 — won his first competitive Oscar for best assistant director in 1933, a category that would only exist through 1937.

He also won three best short subject (two-reel) awards, two best short subject (one-reel) awards, and one best documentary (short subject) award, according to the official Academy Awards Database.

These categories have also been redefined since his victories in the 1940s and 1950s; they are now known as the awards for best live action short film and best documentary short film.

"Tom and Jerry" producer Fred Quimby won seven Oscars for his work in animation.

Poster for "The Two Mouseketeers."
Fred Quimby won the Oscar for best short subject (cartoon) for "The Two Mouseketeers."LMPC via Getty Images

Quimby received his first Oscar nomination and trophy in 1944 for best short subject (cartoon) for "Yankee Doodle Mouse."

His other six wins would all come from the same category, which is now called best animated short film.

Director and sound designer Gary Rydstrom has won seven Academy Awards for movies including "Jurassic Park" and "Titanic."

Gary Rydstrom (L) and Richard Hymns (R) pose with their Academy Awards in 1999.
Gary Rydstrom (left) and Richard Hymns (right) pose with their Academy Awards in 1999.Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Rydstrom's seven awards have all come from his work in the sound department.

He's been awarded best sound and best sound effects editing for films "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," "Jurassic Park," and "Saving Private Ryan."

He also has a best sound award for "Titanic."

Art director Richard Day also won seven Academy Awards.

"The Dark Angel" lobby card featuring Frederic March, Merle Oberon, and Herbert Marshall.
Richard Day won his first Oscar in Best Art Direction for "The Dark Angel."LMPC via Getty Images

Day won seven awards for best art direction (now known as best production design), beginning in 1936 with "The Dark Angel" and concluding in 1954 with "On the Waterfront."

Makeup artist Rick Baker has won seven Academy Awards for movies including "Men in Black" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

Rick Baker (L) and Dave Elsey (R) pose with their Academy Awards in 2011.
Rick Baker (left) and Dave Elsey (right) pose with their Academy Awards in 2011.Jason Merritt/Staff/Getty Images

Described as a "lifelong 'monster kid'" on his official Oscars page, Baker has made significant contributions to the world of movie makeup across genres.

In 1981, Baker received his first nomination and win for best makeup for "An American Werewolf in London."

He had multiple wins in the '90s with "Ed Wood" (1995), "The Nutty Professor" (1997), and "Men in Black" (1998).

Another memorable contribution includes transforming Jim Carrey into the Grinch for the 2000 movie "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

Set designer Edwin B. Willis won eight Academy Awards in 15 years.

A poster for "An American in Paris" from 1951.
Edwin B. Willis won an Academy Award for Art Direction for his work on "An American in Paris."LMPC via Getty Images/Contributor

Working alongside esteemed art director Cedric Gibbons, Willis won eight Oscars for his contributions to set design within the art direction category.

His first win came in 1941 for his work in interior direction on "Blossoms in the Dust," and his final win came in 1956 for his work in Set Decoration on "Somebody Up There Likes Me."

Composer Alan Menken's work on classic Disney films has won him eight Academy Awards.

Alan Menken attending the world premiere of the live-action version of "The Little Mermaid" in 2023.
Alan Menken attending the world premiere of the live-action version of "The Little Mermaid" in 2023.Matt Winkelmeyer/GA/Contributor

Disney fans can say a big thank you to Menken, the mind behind the music in "The Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast," "Aladdin," and "Pocahontas."

Menken won two Academy Awards for each of these films, winning in the scoring and original song categories.

Dennis Muren won eight Academy Awards for his contributions to visual effects on iconic films like "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" and "Jurassic Park."

From left to right: Dennis Muren, Michael J. McAlister, Lorne Peterson, and George Gibbs pose with their Academy Awards for "Best Visual Effects" for "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom."
(L to R): Dennis Muren, Michael J. McAlister, Lorne Peterson, and George Gibbs pose with their Academy Awards for best visual effects for "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom."ABC Photo Archives/Contributor

Muren's work had a significant impact on popular films throughout the '80s and '90s, like "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial," "Innerspace," and "Terminator 2: Judgment Day."

In addition to his competitive Oscars, Muren also won a technical achievement award for "the development of a Motion Picture Figure Mover for animation photography," the Academy Awards Database reported.

Edith Head won eight Oscars for costume design, the most by any woman in history.

Edith Head poses with some of her Academy Awards in 1975.
Edith Head poses with some of her Academy Awards in 1975.Mark Sullivan/Contributor/Getty Images

The beautiful costumes worn by Audrey Hepburn in the classics "Roman Holiday" and "Sabrina" came from Oscar-winning costume designer Edith Head.

Known for her "distinctive personal style" and "forthright personality," Head built a career dressing some of the most famous movie stars of her time, like Elizabeth Taylor, Marlene Dietrich, Grace Kelly, and Steve McQueen, as reported by Oscars.org. In all, she received 35 nominations.

Other winning films she designed costumes for include "The Heiress," "All About Eve," "Samson and Delilah," "A Place in the Sun," "The Facts of Life," and "The Sting."

Composer Alfred Newman won nine Oscars.

Postage stamp dedicated to award-winning Hollywood composer Alfred Newman, circa 1999.
Postage stamp dedicated to Alfred Newman, circa 1999.neftali/Shutterstock

Newman, who was known for films like "The King and I," won his awards for his work as a composer.

He won his first Oscar in 1938 for scoring "Alexander's Ragtime Band" and his final Oscar in 1967 for "Camelot."

Cedric Gibbons won 11 Oscars, all for best art direction.

Cedric Gibbons at his desk.
Cedric Gibbons at his desk.John Springer Collection/Contributor

Gibbons won best art direction 11 times out of 38 nominations.

His first award came in 1930 at the 2nd annual Academy Awards ceremony for "The Bridge of San Luis Rey." He won his final Oscar in 1957 for "Somebody Up There Likes Me"

Walt Disney holds the record for the most competitive Academy Awards: 22 wins from 59 nominations.

From left to right: Jane Wyman, Walt Disney, and Ray Milland. Disney poses with his Oscar at the 25th Academy Awards in 1953.
Walt Disney poses alongside actors Jane Wyman and Ray Milland at the 25th Academy Awards in 1953.Bettmann/Contributor

Walt Disney dominated the best short subject (cartoon) category (now awarded as best animated short film) throughout the 1930s with projects like "Flowers and Trees," "Ferdinand the Bull," and "The Ugly Duckling."

His films continued to win awards throughout his life, and he won his final competitive Oscar posthumously in 1969 for "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day."

In addition to his competitive awards, Disney was also the recipient of four non-competitive special awards for the creation of Mickey Mouse, the significance of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" in animation, the use of sound in "Fantasia," and his work as a creative producer, for which he won the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award.

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