MIT students awarded Good Will Hunting its third Oscar on the night after the Academy Award ceremonies -- a 185-foot version in lights.
The windows of 16 stories of Building 54 were lit in the pattern of the Oscar statuette from 8-11pm on Tuesday, March 24.
The "electric Oscar" was featured by six local TV stations and on Wednesday morning's "The Today Show" on NBC. Stories were also carried in the Associated Press, The Boston Globe and the Chronicle of Higher Education.
"This was giving the third Oscar to Good Will Hunting and the people of South Boston," said Ken Campbell, director of the News Office, who received an anonymous call from one of the pranksters. The film is about Will Hunting, a South Boston mathematical genius who works as a janitor at MIT.
The movie won an Oscar for best original screenplay (Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, who also starred in the movie) and for best supporting actor -- Robin Williams, who played a psychiatrist. Mr. Affleck and Mr. Damon are Cambridge natives who graduated from Cambridge Rindge and Latin School and attended Harvard before pursuing their movie careers.
The "electric Oscar" at MIT on Tuesday was the latest in a century-long tradition of anonymous and clever engineering hacks by MIT students. In 1994, students put the shell of a police car on MIT's Great Dome overlooking Killian Court.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 1, 1998.