LOS ANGELES (AP) _ F. Murray Abraham managed to break the Academy's historical avoidance of villains Monday night with his best acting Oscar for the role of Mozart rival Salieri in ''Amadeus.''

In 57 years, only a few bad guys have collected the Oscar, notably Broderick Crawford as the crooked politico in ''All the King's Men,'' Burt Lancaster as the evil evangelist in ''Elmer Gantry,'' and Marlon Brando as the Mafia chieftain in ''The Godfather.''

''It would be a lie if I told you I didn't know what to say because I've been working on this speech for about 25 years,'' Abraham told the Music Center audience.

''You know it's easy to gamble everything when you've got nothing to lose and (director) Milos Forman had a great deal to lose when he gave the brilliant roles to Tom Hulce and me and his courage became my inspiration.''

Abraham, 45, is a newcomer to the spotlight. He has appeared in such films as ''The Sunshine Boys,'' ''Serpico'' and ''All the President's Men,'' but attracted little notice until he played a hoodlam in the remake of ''Scarface'' starring Al Pacino.

Born in El Paso, Texas, of Italian and Syrian parents, he studied drama at the University of Texas, El Paso, then tried his luck in Hollywood. Little happened and he and his wife, Kate Hannan, moved to New York, where he became active in off-Broadway plays and television.

Abraham's Oscar nomination did not bring additional work for the actor. He hasn't faced a camera since ''Amadeus,'' but has been performing free for children's theaters in New York.