The Life, Death, and Legacy of the Oscar Streaker

Robert Opel made history when he ran naked across the Academy Awards stage. Forty years later, two men are working to promote his vibrant life's work and uncover the truth behind his murder.

BY Kevin OKeeffe

March 26 2014 5:00 AM ET

Castro, who spent much of his adult life researching Opel, describes seeing the exhibit come together as "a dream."

"This art and this presentation of a lifestyle — and I call this a lifestyle because of what it’s creating and conveying — is, to me, what I’ve always wanted to build at Antebellum,” Castro says. "The fact that it now has an historic edge is just the icing on the cake.”

The exhibit, which has been extended multiple times, is now running until April 12. Castro and Oppel continue to expand their promotion of Opel’s work and have screened Uncle Bob at Antebellum. In addition to extending Opel's legacy beyond his brief streak across the Oscars stage, Castro and Oppel say they hope to bring some resolution to the questions surrounding his death. According to Castro, many of Opel’s close friends at the time didn’t believe the "drug deal gone bad" narrative espoused in police reports.

"You have to think about the political climate at the time with gay rights and sexual rights. The gallery was pushing a lot of boundaries," Castro says. "The police at that time were not homo-friendly whatsoever. They were very antagonistic and would do whatever they could to close establishments down."

Castro also noted that one of the killers, Keenan, managed to escape quite easily after almost no time had passed. Distressed over the escape, O’Grady and Anthony, the two witnesses, went into hiding. Though Keenan was eventually recaptured, Oppel has never been able to meet him to ask the questions he has about his uncle’s death.

"The fact that this guy came in, tied up Anthony and Camille, put them in the back, and solely just executed my uncle, when they had no money or drugs … it was just very suspicious," Oppel says.

As the two men search for answers, they know that this gallery is part of their journey to spread Opel's name.

As Castro says, "It's just the beginning."

"My uncle pops into this universe so often and so randomly," Oppel says. "I did the documentary, and I thought, Well, I’m glad I got to know Uncle Bob. I’m glad I understand him. And then this show happens … he just pops in and out."

Tags: Oscars, Art

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