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Steven Miessner, 48; polished and prepared Oscar statuettes for the Academy Awards

Steve Miessner packaged Oscar statuettes for transport to the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles in preparation for the 81st Academy Awards this year. Steve Miessner packaged Oscar statuettes for transport to the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles in preparation for the 81st Academy Awards this year. (Chris Carlson/ Associated Press)
By Steve Loeper
Associated Press / August 3, 2009

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LOS ANGELES - Steven Miessner, the motion picture academy’s devoted “Keeper of the Oscars’’ who each year donned his signature white gloves to prepare the golden statuettes for their close-up before a worldwide audience, died Wednesday of a heart attack at his home. He was 48.

Leading up to the Academy Award ceremony, Mr. Miessner would take custody of the Oscars as they arrived from the R.S. Owens foundry in Chicago, logging them into a computer file, keeping them safe and secure, and then on the big night giving the coveted statuettes one last rubdown backstage before handing them to the show’s trophy presenters.

He would record which individually-numbered Oscar was presented to whom and later arrange with the winners to get their statuettes properly engraved.

Academy colleagues, stagehands, and reporters marveled at Mr. Miessner’s dedication and enthusiasm as he worked with the statuettes - a job that was a year-round process, according to Leslie Unger, spokeswoman for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

“He maintained the computer files on the current whereabouts, so far as can be known, of every Oscar ever awarded,’’ Unger said. “He also was the liaison with R.S. Owens when a vintage statuette needed refurbishing.’’

In addition to his Oscar duties, Mr. Miessner was an executive assistant to academy executive director Bruce Davis and president Sid Ganis.

A member of the academy staff since 2002, Mr. Miessner “was central to the day-to-day operations of the organization,’’ said Unger.

He leaves his mother, Virginia, a sister, and a brother.