LOS ANGELES (AP) _ It was a typically wide-ranging performance, laughter and tears and a touch of modesty: Al Pacino must have wondered if he'd ever have a chance to give it.

Pacino, 52, won the best actor award Monday night for his portrayal of an blind, embittered Army veteran in ''Scent of a Woman.''

Holding his prize above his head, he acknowledged a standing ovation for his first Academy Award after eight nominations by joking: ''You broke my streak.''

But he admitted he had balked when the role was first offered to him.

''I didn't want to do the part for some reason,'' said Pacino, who earlier lost a bid in the supporting actor category (''Glengarry Glen Ross'') to Gene Hackman (''Unforgiven'').

He also got sentimental. He offered a lengthy supply of ''Thank you's,'' urging the audience to indulge him since he had never given this kind of sppech before. He recalled his early years as an actor, and at one point his eyes filled with tears.

''I've been lucky. I found desire for what I do early in my life and I'm lucky because I had people who encouraged that desire,'' Pacino said after pulling a speech from his tuxedo pocket and putting on reading glasses.

The New York native recalled a recent encounter with a girl he had known when he was growing up. The girl said Pacino had encouraged her.

''I just can't forget that girl, and I can't forget the kids out there who may be thinking tonight that if he can do it I can do it,'' Pacino said. ''This is really a proud and hopeful moment for me.

''I want to thank the academy for giving us a gift of encouragement.''

Pacino in past years was nominated twice as supporting actor (''The Godfather'' and ''Dick Tracy'') and four times as leading actor (''Serpico,'' ''The Godfather Part II,'' ''Dog Day Afternoon'' and ''... And Justice for All'').

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