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Introducing the EGOT Crowd

All mentioned films in article
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Award season is a little different this year, as the Emmys have found themselves in cinema territory after they were postponed in September 2023 because of the SAG-AFTRA strike. However, the delayed ceremony has thrown up some showbiz history, as Cinema Paradiso reveals.

On 15 January 2024,Tiny Fey and Amy Poehler announced from the stage at the Peacock Theatre in Los Angeles that someone had just joined the select band of EGOT winners - in other words, those artists who have completed the career grand slam of an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony for their respective work in television, recording, film, and theatre.

By winning the Emmy for Variety Special (Live) with Elton John Live: Farewell From Dodger Stadium, our very own Elton John had become the 19th EGOTist. But who are the others fortunate four-timers and who is close to joining them?

Four For All

EGOT became a thing in 1962, when composer Richard Rodgers became the first person to win American showbusiness's four major awards. But what are they and how have they changed over the decades?

The oldest of the quartet was the brainchild of Louis B. Mayer. The head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer formed the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1927, as a way of coercing Hollywood actors, directors, producers, writers, and technicians into co-operating with one another. The Academy Award of Merit was devised to allow members to show respect across the branches by rewarding excellence. The work honoured had been released between 1 August 1927 and 31 July 1928 and the winners in the inaugural 12 categories were notified three months in advance of a private dinner for 270, which was held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on 16 May 1929.

The recipients took home an Art Deco statue depicting a knight holding a sword and standing on a reel of film. Designed by Cedric Gibbons and sculpted by George Stanley, it earned the nickname 'Oscar' because AMPAS librarian Margaret Herrick thought the figure resembled her Uncle Oscar. Some claim, however, that the award was named after an upstanding Norwegian ex-soldier known to Academy secretary, Eleanore Lilleberg. One thing is for sure, the nomenclature claims of actress Bette Davis and columnist Sidney Skolsky have long been debunked.

A still from La La Land (2016)
A still from La La Land (2016)

Fourteen categories have come and gone over 96 editions in order to reach the current total of 24. There are also six special honours that can be bestowed, although the announcement of these don't require the famous sealed envelope that was introduced in 1941 and caused so much fuss in 2017, when Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty mistakenly announced Damien Chazelle's La La Land as Best Picture instead of Barry Jenkins's Moonlight (both 2016).

With increasing numbers of American households owning a television set in the period immediately after the Second World War, it was decided to launch a small-screen equivalent to the Oscars. First presented on 25 January 1949, the Emmys were awarded by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Winners received a statue of a woman holding an atom, which had been designed by Louis McManus in 1948. Its name came about in a rather convoluted way, as it was decided to feminise 'Immy', which was an abbreviation of the image orthicon tube that was a common feature in early TV cameras.

The awards were divided into the Primetime and Daytime Emmys in 1974, with cable programmes becoming eligible in 1988. As viewing habits changed, online-only shows were accepted for nomination from 2013. But a further shift came a decade later to reflect the growing importance of catch-up and streaming platforms. As a consequence, magazine, talk, and quiz shows were reassigned across the Primetime/Daytime divide, while the new Children's & Family Emmys were launched alongside the rejigged News & Documentary Emmys, which had first been presented in 1980. Just to complicate matters further, there are also separate awards for achievements in technology and engineering, as well as annual regional, international, and sports editions.

Founded by producer-director Brock Pemberton, the Antoinette Perry Awards for Excellence in Broadway Theatre were first presented on 6 April 1947. They were named after an actress and administrator who had died at the age of 58 the previous June after having done much to raise the profile of the American Theatre Wing and the Broadway League.

Held on the second Sunday of June, the Tonys present a spinnable medallion on a black plinth that depicts classical comedy and tragedy masks on one side and the winner's name on the other. It was designed by Herman Rosse in 1949 and was originally given out in 11 categories, but this has now expanded to 26.

As a consequence, the evening flies by in comparison to the Grammys. When the Recording Academy of the United States first presented the Gramophone Awards at simultaneous ceremonies in Beverly Hills and New York on 4 May 1959, there were 28 categories. Nowadays, there are 94, although this is down from the all-time high of 109 reached in 2010.

A still from The Current War (2017)
A still from The Current War (2017)

The founders considered naming their award the 'Eddie' after Thomas Alva Edison, who was played by Benedict Cumberbatch in Alonso Gomez-Rejan's The Current War (2017). But a member of the public suggested that it would be more suitable to honour Émile Berliner's invention, as the gramophone had always been more popular than the phonograph. This decision spared us from having to talk about the 'Phonies', although, given the recent furore over perceived bias against female and Black performers, this might not have been the worst nickname for awards that many feel have much to do to restore their former reputation.

Same Old Song

It would appear it's easier for a composer, conductor, or songwriter to become an EGOTist than it is for camel to be threaded through the eye of a needle. Nine of the 19 winners have a musical connection, with the first and the fastest coming from the brethren, as they are all male.

Best known for his collaborations with lyricists Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II, composer Richard Rodgers became the first person to complete the EGOT sweep. His Oscar came with a Best Song win for 'It Might As Well Be Spring' from Walter Lang's State Fair (1945). However, he was more successful in the Tony stakes, following 1950 triumphs for Best Musical, Score, and Producer for South Pacific, with Best Musical success for The King and I and The Sound of Music, in 1952 and 1960 respectively. While these were famously filmed by Joshua Logan (1958) , Walter Lang (1956) , and Robert Wise (1965) , no one ever adapted No Strings, for which Rodgers won Best Score in 1962. Perhaps this was because he had broken the race taboo on Broadway by casting Diahann Carroll as the model who falls for Richard Kiley's blocked writer and no one in Hollywood was brave enough to do likewise, despite Seven Arts purchasing the rights for $2 million in 1964.

The pair were part of the ensemble that won the 1962 Grammy for Best Original Cast Album, which gave Rodgers his second victory in the category after The Sound of Music. He would only have to wait a couple of years to complete his set, as Anthony Bushell and John Schlesinger's Winston Churchill: The Valiant Years (1960-61) brought him the Emmy for the category of Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composed For Television. Given the subject matter and the fact the directors of this 10-hour, 26-part documentary series were British, it's surprising that this has never been available on disc in the UK, especially as the extracts from Churchill's writings were read by Richard Burton.

While it took Rodgers 16 years to EGOT (winning 10 competitive awards in total), Marvin Hamlisch required five more en route to amassing 12 career wins. The pair have a unique bond, however, as they are the only PEGOT winners, by courtesy of their Pulitzer Prize wins in 1950 and 1976, with Rodgers win with Hammerstein for South Pacific coming six years after they had received a Special Pulitzer Prize for Oklahoma!, which was filmed by Fred Zinnemann in 1955.

A still from The Sting (1973) With Robert Redford
A still from The Sting (1973) With Robert Redford

Hamlisch got off to a flying start in 1974, winning the Oscars for Best Original Dramatic Score and Best Song with the title track from Sydney Pollack's The Way We Were. This teamed Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford, who also co-starred with Paul Newman in George Roy Hill's The Sting (both 1973), which earned Hamlisch the Oscar for Best Scoring: Original Song Score and Adaptation or Scoring for his interpretation of Scott Joplin's music. His version of 'The Entertainer' landed him the Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Performance, to which he added Best New Artist and Song of the Year and Album of Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special for The Way We Were.

Things slowed down a bit after this, as Hamlisch had to wait two years to snag a Tony for Best Musical Score for A Chorus Line. This was filmed by Richard Attenborough in 1985 and received a mixed reception, but it has lasted longer in the public memory than the Primetime Emmy wins for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Music Direction for Barbra: The Concert and Outstanding Individual Achievement in Music and Lyrics for 'Ordinary Miracles' from the same 1995 Streisand special. Cinema Paradiso has numerous other Streisand concert collections available to rent, including Timeless: Live in Concert (2000), which earned Hamlisch the Grammy for Outstanding Music Direction two years after he drew Outstanding Music and Lyrics for 'A Ticket to Dream' from AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies: America's Greatest Movies.

Orchestrator and arranger Jonathan Tunick may well be the least recognisable name in this list. He's the only musical EGOT to win each award once only and has the distinction of being the first Grand Slammer to have an Emmy and a Tony as their second and fourth triumphs in the sequence. He kicked off with an Oscar for his Best Original Song Score contribution to Hal Prince's adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music (1977). The Emmy came for his music direction on Night of 100 Stars (1982), the Grammy for arranging Cleo Laine's 1989 take on 'No One Is Alone' from Sondheim's Into the Woods. Completing the set in 19 years, the Tony was presented for Tunick's orchestration of the 1997 Broadway musical, Titanic, which just happened to be released in the same year as James Cameron's 11-time Oscar-winning account of the liner's fateful maiden voyage in April 1912.

The name again may not be immediately familiar, but composer-cum-songwriter Robert Lopez is the EGOT king. In addition to being the first Filipino and Asian to complete the slam, he is also the one and only artist to have won each component award twice. Moreover, Lopez is the youngest EGOT winner and, by snaring his second set, he broke his own record for the quickest completion (7 years, 8 months pipping 9 years, 8 months). He has 12 competitive wins to his credit, so let's put some titles to the stats.

He started off with a 2004 Tony for Best Original Score for Avenue Q, which he followed in 2011 with Best Musical Book and Best Original Score for The Book of Mormon. This show also brought him the 2012 Grammy for Best Musical Theatre Album, which he shared with producer Scott Rudin, making them the first EGOT winners to co-win the same award. Writing with wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez (who needs a Tony for her own set), he also won Grammys for 'Let It Go', which took Best Song Written For Visual Media, along with Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media for Chris Buck's Frozen (2013).

A still from Coco (2017)
A still from Coco (2017)

As the first EGOTist to secure his slam with an Oscar, Lopez has since doubled up after 'Remember Me' was voted Best Song for Lee Unkrich's Coco (2017). He is also the only four-timer to emulate John Legend in following a Daytime with a Primetime Emmy win. Having landed Outstanding Music Direction and Composition for Wonder Pets! in 2008 and 2010, Lopez received Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics in 2021 for 'Agatha All Along' from WandaVision, which is available to rent from Cinema Paradiso. In 2022, Lopez took his total to a round dozen major awards with another Daytime victory, when We the People was named Outstanding Short Form Programme.

On 9 September 2018, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice, and John Legend became EGOTists at precisely the same moment, when Jesus Christ Superstar in Concert won the Emmy for Outstanding Variety Special (Live). In 1980, Lloyd Webber and Rice had also shared the Tony for Best Original Score and the Grammy for Best Cast Show Album for Evita before completing a hat-trick with the Best Song Oscar for 'You Must Love Me' from Alan Parker's 1996 film adaptation.

Completing his haul of 11 competitive majors, Lloyd Webber also has the Tonys for Best Musical and Best Original Score for Cats (1983), which also won the Grammy for Best Cast Show Album. When Tom Hooper filmed the T.S. Eliot-inspired show in 2019, Cats stormed the Golden Raspberry Awards, by having Worst Picture, Director, and Screenplay dumped on it, while Rebel Wilson (who beat co-star Judi Dench) and James Corden were named the Worst Supporting Actress and Actor and also contributed to the Worst Screen Combo award by being part of a citation that read: 'Any Two Half-Feline/Half-Human Hairballs in Cats'.

Having won the 1986 Grammy for Best Contemporary Composition for Requiem, Lloyd Webber followed another Best Musical Tony for The Phantom of the Opera (1988), with another double triumph for Sunset Boulevard (1995). Joel Schumacher filmed Phantom with Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum in 2005, between Lloyd Webber being presented with the Grammy Legend Award in 1990 and the Special Tony Award in 2018.

A still from The Lion King (1994)
A still from The Lion King (1994)

Rice actually has one more competitive major than his old mucker and is unique in winning all 12 with fellow EGOTists. Three of his Grammys came in conjunction with Alan Menken for Ron Clements and John Musker's Aladdin (1993), with a win for Best Musical Album for Children being complemented by the Song of the Year and Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television success of 'A Whole New World (Aladdin's Theme) '. A second Academy Award came in cahoots with Elton John for 'Can You Feel the Love Tonight' from Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff's The Lion King (1994) and, frankly, it's staggering that this was this classic picture's sole win across the EGOT range.

Rice and John added a Tony and a Grammy to their tallies with respective Best Original Score and Best Musical Show Album wins for Aida (2000). In all, Elton has nine major wins, with the Grammys being his strong suit. Along with an 1987 Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal win for 'That's What Friends Are For, his mantelpiece contains the 1992 Best Instrumental Composition prize for 'Basque', the 1995 and 1998 Best Male Pop Vocal Performance awards for 'Can You Feel the Love Tonight' and 'Candle in the Wind', and the 1999 Grammy Legend Award. Let's hope there's room for these and the Best Original Song Oscar for ' (I'm Gonna) Love Me Again' from Dexter Fletcher's Rocketman (2019) and the Outstanding Variety Special (Live) Emmy he picked up to complete his 37-year EGOT pursuit with Elton John: Farewell From Dodger Stadium (2023).

Composer Alan Menken took seven years less to reach his goal. Only producer Scott Rudin can match his 21 major wins, with his eight Oscar triumphs being bettered only in the musical categories by Alfred Newman, who converted nine of his 45 nominations. Along with lyricist Howard Ashman, Menken won the Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Best Song for Clements and Musker's The Little Mermaid (1989) and Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise's Beauty and the Beast (1991) before teaming with Stephen Schwartz to repeat the feat with Mike Gabriel and Eric Goldberg's Pocahontas (1995). As all Cinema Paradiso users will know, the songs in question were 'Under the Sea', 'Beauty and the Beast', and 'Colours of the Wind'. The same combinations brought his seven of his 11 Grammys, with the others coming for Aladdin and 'I See the Light' from Nathan Greno and Byron Howard's Tangled (2010).

Menken also added a Daytime Emmy for 'Waiting in the Wings' from Rapunzel's Tangled Adventure (2020), which followed on from the Special Primetime Emmy he received for writing 'Wonderful Ways to Say No' for the 1990 anti-drugs TV special, Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue. His Tony came in the Best Original Score category for the Broadway adaptation of Newsies, which had been filmed by Kenny Ortega in 1992, This really should be on disc in this country, if only because it made Menken the sole winner of a REGOT (or EGROT), as the song 'High Times, Hard Times' (which he wrote with Jack Felman) scooped the Razzie for Worst Song.

Last, but by no means least in this section is John Legend. Among his 18 competititve awards are an EGOT record of 12 Grammys. He is also the first Black man to become an EGOTist, while he also became the first recipient to win Daytime and Primetime Emmys and the first to win four awards in four consecutive years. We've already mentioned his Primetime win, while his Daytimes were awarded for Crow: The Legend (2019) and Shelter Me: Soul Awakened and Cornerstones: Founding Voices of the Black Church (both 2022).

Legend's Oscar was a Best Song win for 'Glory' from Ava DuVernay's Selma (2012), while his Tony came in 2017 in the Best Revival of a Play category for Angus Wilson's Jitney. The former also received the Grammy for Best Song Written For Visual Media, which went alongside his 2006 Best New Artist and Best R&B Album wins (for Get Lifted). He has twice won Best Male R&B Vocal Performance, for 'Ordinary People' (2006) and 'Heaven (2007), while he has also doubled up in the Best R&B Performance By a Duo or Group With Vocals category with 'Family Affair' (2007) and 'Stay With Me (By the Sea) '.

A still from Coming 2 America (2021)
A still from Coming 2 America (2021)

But we're still not done. In 2011, Legend took home Best R&B Song for 'Shine', Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance for 'Hang on in There', and Best R&B Album for Wake Up!. Subsequently, he won Best Rap/Sung Performance in 2020 for 'Higher' and Best R&B Album in 2021 for Bigger Love. Cinema Paradiso has 26 titles on offer in which Legend acts, including Malcolm D. Lee's Soul Men (2008) and Craig Brewer's Coming 2 America (2021). So get your finger clicking to set your toes tapping.

Men in Suits

Moving on to those who write, direct, and produce things, we come to the estimable Mel Brooks. The eighth person to attain EGOT status and the first to kick off their quartet with an Emmy, Brooks also happens to be currently the fourth oldest living film director. A reunion of the cast of Your Show of Shows (1950-54) resulted in a 1967 Emmy for Outstanding Writing Achievement in Variety for the hour-long and snappily titled, The Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, Howard Morris Special. Brooks would have secured an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for The Producers (1967) by the time he racked up three more Emmys in consecutive years for his guest turns as Paul Reiser's Uncle Phil in the popular sitcom, Mad About You (1997-99).

During this run, Brooks also shared a Grammy with Carl Reiner, as The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000 won the award for Best Spoken Comedy Album. But it was a return to the characters of Max Bialystock and Leopold Bloom that enabled Brooks to take his total to 11 major awards. The Broadway version of The Producers won three Tonys in 2001 for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Original Score and he followed up this hat-trick with Grammys for Best Musical Show Album and Best Long Form Music Video for Recording The Producers: A Musical Romp With Mel Brooks. In 2023, the Academy gave Brooks an Honorary Award with the citation: 'Mel Brooks lights up our hearts with his humour, and his legacy has made a lasting impact on every facet of entertainment.' You only have to listen to him voicing Tom the Cat and Hilda the Pigeon in Susan Stroman's The Producers (2005) in order to concur.

Brooks once referred to himself as an EGOTAK, as he had also received awards from the American Film Institute and the Kennedy Center. Director Mike Nichols could claim the title PEGOT, as he is the only person to have a competitive EGOT set plus a Peabody Award. It took him 40 years to hit the jackpot, however, although he became the first Grand Slammer to start his collection with a Grammy, courtesy of a 1961 Best Comedy Performance win for the album, An Evening With Mike Nichols and Elaine May.

Nichols is the only EGOTist with multiple directorial wins, a sequence that dates back to his Tony successes for Best Direction of a Play for Barefoot in the Park (1964) and Luv and The Odd Couple (both 1965). Despite being Oscar-nominated for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), Nichols wasn't entrusted with the screen transfers of his Tony successes, as Gene Saks got to direct Robert Redford and Jane Fonda in Barefoot in the Park (1967) and Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon in The Odd Couple (1968), while Clive Donner hooked up with Lemmon on Luv (1967). This year saw Nichols win the Academy Award for Best Director for The Graduate, although he would be denied a second statuette when he lost out for Silkwood (1983) and Working Girl (1988).

A still from Annie (1982)
A still from Annie (1982)

Despite eight unconverted nominations, the Tonys kept coming, with the Neil Simon duo of Plaza Suite (1968) and The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1972) - which were respectively filmed by Arthur Hiller and Melvin Frank - being followed by a 1977 Best Musical win for Annie, which would be directed for the screen five years later by John Huston. Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing (1984) brought a Best Play/Best Direction of a Play double before Nichols claimed his final wins for Best Direction of a Musical for

Monty Python's Spamalot (2005) and Best Direction of a Play for Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman (2012). In all, Nichols would win 15 competitive majors between 1961-2012, with his Emmys finally coming for Wit (2001) and Angels in America (2004), which took the Primetime titles for Outstanding Made For Television Movie and Outstanding Directing For a Miniseries or a Movie and Outstanding Miniseries and Outstanding Directing For a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special.

Although he shares Alan Menken's record of 21 major wins, producer Scott Rudin has the most unbalanced EGOT roll call. In 1984, he won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Children's Programme with He Makes Me Feel Like Dancin', while his Oscar came when Joel and Ethan Coen's No Country For Old Men won Best Picture in 2008. Subsequently, Rudin has added a Grammy for Best Musical Theatre Album for the original Broadway cast recording of The Book of Mormon (2002). But his other 18 awards have all been Tonys.

After winning Best Musical for Passion in 1984, Rudin repeated the feat in 2011 with The Book of Mormon and added Best Revival of a Musical with Hello, Dolly! in 2017. This had been filmed by Gene Kelly in 1969, while Cinema Paradiso can also offer several other features linked to the Tony plays originated or revived by Rubin, namely John Patrick Shanley's Doubt, Nicholas Hytner's The History Boys (both 2008), Denzel Washington's Fences (2018), Volker Schlöndorff's Death of a Salesman (1985), Daniel Petrie's A Raisin in the Sun (1961), and William Friedkin's The Boys in the Band (1970). Sydnet Lumet's interpretation of A View From the Bridge (1962) is not currently available, while Copenhagen (2000), The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? (2002), God of Carnage (2009), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (2015), Skylight (2015), The Humans (2016), The Ferryman (2019), and The Inheritance (2021) have yet to be released on disc, although the latter E.M. Forster adaptation was filmed by James Ivory under its original title of Howards End (1992) before being reworked for television by Hettie Macdonald in 2017.

What a Performance

Seven performers are paid-up members of the EGOT club, but only one is male. Two actresses reached the summit in the same year, but we'll start with Helen Hayes, as she was the first to claim the Triple Crown of Acting, with individual Oscar, Tony, and Emmy awards. She received the Academy Award for Best Actress for Edgar Selwyn's The Sin of Madelon Claudet (1931), but had to wait another 39 years before she could add a Best Supporting Oscar for her turn as stowaway Ada Quonsett in George Seaton's adaptation of Arthur Haley's Airport (1970).

Hayes tasted Tony success as Best Actress in Happy Birthday (1947) and Time Remembered (1958) before being presented with the Lawrence Langner Memorial Award for Distinguished Lifetime Achievement in the American Theatre in 1980. Her Emmy was accrued for her work in 'Not a Chance', a 1953 episode of Schlitz Playhouse of Stars. But 24 years had to elapse until she could grab a Best Spoken Word Recording Grammy for Great American Documents (1977), which also featured the voices of Orson Welles, Henry Fonda, and James Earl Jones. Her 45-year completion span is an EGOT record, although three of the awards didn't even exist when Hayes won her first!

A still from West Side Story (1961) With Russ Tamblyn
A still from West Side Story (1961) With Russ Tamblyn

Puerto Rican Rita Moreno was aged 45 when she completed her set in just 15 years in 1977. She is the first Latina EGOTist and could claim to be a KEGPOT, as she also has also received Kennedy Center and Peabody presentations. She won her Best Supporting Oscar as Anita in Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins's West Side Story (1961) before becoming the first Grand Slammer to have a Grammy as the second award in their sequence.

This came in 1972 in the Best Recording For Children category for The Electric Company. Her Tony was for Best Featured Actress in a Play for The Ritz (1975), while her Emmys came in consecutive years, for Outstanding Continuing or Single Performance By a Supporting Actress in Variety or Music for The Muppet Show (1976-81) and Outstanding Lead Actress For a Single Appearance in a Drama or Comedy Series for 'The Paper Palace', a 1978 episode of The Rockford Files (1974-80).

At 87 years and four months, John Gielgud is by far the oldest EGOT completist. He is also the only openly gay winner and was the first Brit to complete the set. As the sole male in the acting coterie, he emulated Helen Hayes in winning each of his qualifying majors in a different decade. First came a Tony in 1948 for being part of the Outstanding Foreign Company in The Importance of Being Earnest (which was filmed by Anthony Asquith in 1952 ). A second followed for Best Director of a Drama with Big Fish, Little Fish (1961), making him the only thesping EGOT member to have won an award for something other than acting.

Gielgud's Grammy was presented for Best Spoken Word, Documentary or Drama Recording for his rendition of a collection of Shakespearean speeches on the 1979 album, Ages of Man. This one-man show had already earned him a Special Tony in 1959 for 'his extraordinary insight into the writings of Shakespeare'. His Oscar came three years later for his scene-stealing turn as Hobson the valet opposite Dudley Moore in Steve Gordon's Arthur (1982). But nine years would pass before his performance as Haverford Downs in Martin Friend's adaptation of John Mortimer's Summer's Lease (1991) garnered him the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Special.

A still from Roman Holiday (1953)
A still from Roman Holiday (1953)

Audrey Hepburn died without knowing she had EGOT status. She had won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her delightful display as Princess Anne in William Wyler's Roman Holiday (1953) prior to taking the Tony for Distinguished Dramatic Actress the following year for her performance in Jean Giraudoux's Ondine. A Special Tony was presented in 1968, but Hepburn would receive three further awards following her death at the age of 63 on 20 January 1993.

The first was the Academy's Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, while an Emmy followed for Gardens of the World With Audrey Hepburn, which took the Outstanding Individual Achievement - Informational Programming prize. But the posthumous laurels kept coming and Hepburn completed her slam with Audrey Hepburn's Enchanted Tales, which landed the 1994 Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album For Children. As a result, Hepburn became the first EGOTeer to win with a single success in each strand, a feat that has since been matched by Jonathan Tunick.

The remaining three acting EGOTs belong to African American women. Whoopi Goldberg set forth with a Best Comedy Album Grammy in 1986 for a recording of her eponymous Broadway show. Unusually, an Oscar came next for her splendid Best Supporting turn as Oda Mae Brown in Jerry Zucker's Ghost (1990), which also brought her a second Golden Globe after she had won Best Actress in a Drama as Celie in Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple (1985).

A special award was made by the Emmy governors in 1997 in recognition of Goldberg's work on seven Comic Relief Benefit Specials. But her set was completed in a rush in 2002, as she followed a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Special Class Special for hosting and narrating the documentary, Beyond Tara: The Extraordinary Life of Hattie McDaniel with a Tony for Best Musical, as the producer of Thoroughly Modern Millie (which had been filmed by George Roy Hill in 1967 ). This made her the first acting EGOT with a producing prize and she added to her collection in 2009 with a second Daytime Emmy as Outstanding Talk Show Host for The View.

While Goldberg needed 16 years to amass her slam, Jennifer Hudson required one fewer and, in the process, she became the youngest female EGOTist at 40 years and 9 months. Having won American Idol, Hudson made her feature bow as Effie White in Bill Condon's Dreamgirls (2007) and waltzed off with the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Grammys followed, as Jennifer Hudson was named Best R&B Album in 2009 and The Color Purple (in which she played Shug Avery) took Best Musical Theatre Album in 2017.

In 2021, she scooped a Daytime Emmy as an executive producer, as Baba Yaga (in which she also voiced Forest) won Outstanding Interactive Media For a Daytime Programme. She completed her card with a Tony win as one of the producers of A Strange Loop, which was named Best Musical in 2022 after its Broadway run had been delayed by the Coronavirus pandemic.

If Hudson's quartet ranks among the more unusual, Viola Davis relied on good old-fashioned performing for hers. She took a Tony in 2001 as Best Featured Actress in a Play for her work as King Hedley II, which she followed up with a Best Leading Actress in a Play victory for Angus Wilson's Fences (2010). Cinema Paradiso users familiar with Getting to Know Viola Davis will be aware that she won the Academy Award for Best Actress in reprising the role of Rose Maxon in Denzel Washington's screen version of Fences in 2016.

In the interim, Davis had added a Primetime Emmy to her collection as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for How to Get Away With Murder (2015), in which she played defence attorney and law professor Annalise Keating. Uniquely for an EGOTist, her Grammy was all her own work, as she won in the 2023 Best Audio Book, Narration & Storytelling Recording category for her memoir, Finding Me.

The Honoraries

There are six artists who are find themselves in a kind of exclusive EGOT waiting room. Each has completed three-quarters of the set when it comes to competitive wins, but they make up their foursome with a special award. One of the sextet is no longer with us, but the other four Honorary EGOTists could still gain access to the inner sanctum.

A still from A Star Is Born (1976)
A still from A Star Is Born (1976)

Somehow, a competitive Tony has eluded Barbra Streisand. In 1970, she received a special Tony Award for being the Star of the Decade, but six decades have passed since she was nominated for I Can Get It For You Wholesale (1962) and Funny Girl (1964). William Wyler's film version of the Fanny Brice musical earned Streisand a share of the Best Actress Oscar with Katharine Hepburn for Anthony Harvey's The Lion in Winter (1968), although she would go on to win Best Song with Paul Williams for 'Evergreen' from Frank Pierson's A Star Is Born (1976). The latter brought Streisand two of her eight Grammy wins, although she also has Legend and Lifetime Achievement awards.

Streisand also has five Emmys, with the aforementioned Marvin Hamlisch collaboration, Timeless: The Concert, being available to rent from Cinema Paradiso. These are the only major awards from which she doesn't have an honorary prize, but the lack of a competitive Tony means her scoop of the big four in just six years by the age of 28 has an asterisk beside it. Her run of debut wins for first studio album, feature film, and television special stands unchallenged, as does the fact she is the only member of the EGOT fraternity with acting and music Oscars. Given she has also been recognised by the Kennedy Center, the AFI and the Peabody people, she could have a unique PEGOTAK tag if the Tony ever comes her way.

Liza Minnelli's place at the top table is being held for the Grammy win that would top her 1990 Legend Award. Ironically, mother Judy Garland had two of the blighters to go alongside her Academy Juvenile Award for Victor Fleming's The Wizard of Oz (1939) and her Special Tony. Minnelli started out with a Tony for Flora the Red (1965) and added a 1974 Special Award to later wins for The Act (1978) and Liza's At the Palace (2009). Next came a Best Actress Oscar for her dynamic display as Sally Bowles in Bob Fosse's Cabaret (1972) and she followed this with an Emmy for the cult show, Liza With a 'Z' (1973), which Fosse also directed. But her 1997 and 2010 Grammy nominations for Traditional Pop Vocal Album failed to get her over the line.

An Oscar lies at the root of James Earl Jones's dilemma. He has an honorary award from 2011. But, when he was nominated for Best Actor for his performance as Jack Jefferson in Martin Ritt's The Great White Hope, he was upstaged by George C. Scott in Franklin J. Schaffner's Patton (both 1970), who promptly refused the award. Having been part of the Grammy win for Great American Documents, Jones won Emmys for Outstanding Lead and Supporting Actor for Gabriel's Fire and Heat Wave in the same year (1991). But Darth Vader currently seems set to remain an Honorary EGOT.

The same is definitely true of Harry Belafonte, who died without a competitive Oscar to his name in April 2023. He received the Academy's Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for his Civil Rights activism in 2014, but he never drew a competitive nomination. That said, he had a Tony for John Murray Anderson's Almanac (1954), a Primetime Emmy for Tonight With Belafonte - The Revlon Revue (1960), and two album Grammys from 1961 and 1966. Friend Quincy Jones has a small matter of 28 Grammys on his shelf. Indeed, no one can come close to his 32 major wins, with two coming courtesy of Sidney Lumet's The Wiz (1978) and Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extraterrestrial (1982).

Cinema Paradiso users can also sample Jones's Grammy-winning work on 'Thriller' and 'Beat It' on Michael Jackson: History Video Greats (1995) and Michael Jackson: History on Film, Volume 2 (1997). Jones won his Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition For a Series (Dramatic Underscore) for the landmark tele-adaptation of Arthur Haley's Roots (1977), while his Tony came from the 2013 revival of The Color Purple. The soundtrack album for Alan Hicks and Rashida Jones's documentary, Quincy (2021) brought another Grammy. But it wasn't nominated for an Academy Award, leaving Jones with a 1994 Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for consolation.

Like Jones, director and producer Frank Marshall still has time to make the full EGOT enclosure. However, he wasn't even a contender until 2019, when the Academy presented him with the prestigious Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. Subsequently, he has landed a Tony as part of the producing crew on A Strange Loop, a Grammy for Best Music Film for Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story (2022), which he co-directed with Ryan Suffern, and a Sports Emmy for Outstanding Long Documentary for Jon Weinbach's The Redeem Team, a Marshall-execed account of how the 2008 US Men's Basketball squad rewrote Olympic history.

A still from Seabiscuit (2003)
A still from Seabiscuit (2003)

What makes Marshall's achievement so remarkable is that he went from zero to Honorary EGOT in just four years. He is the only grand slammer to have won a Sports Emmy and the Thalberg award. But he could have joined the immortals had he and producer wife Kathleen Kennedy managed to convert one of their Best Picture nominations for Steven Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and The Color Purple, M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense (1999), Gary Ross's Seabiscuit (2003), or David Fincher's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008). Very much still active and on course for the fastest official EGOT, Marshall is definitely worth keeping a close eye on.

The Missing Piece Gang

When it comes to awards, there are always hard luck stories. So, we'll end with the nearly brigade whose members were/are just one gong away from EGOT greatness. We'll keep it short and sweet and recommend that you type unfamiliar names into the Cinema Paradiso searchline in order to discover what these fine artists have achieved.

Taking the awards in age order, we'll begin with the almosts who have never won an Academy Award. On the musical side, we have Leonard Bernstein, Jerry Bock, Martin Charnin, Cy Coleman, and Fred Ebb among the deceased and John Kander, Tom Kitt, Alex Lacamoire, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Marc Shaiman, Bill Sherman, Charles Strouse, and David Yazbek among those still holding out hope. Performers George Grizzard, Julie Harris, and James Whitmore can no longer add to their legacies, but André De Shields, Cynthia Erivo, Hugh Jackman, Rachel Bay Jones, Cyndi Lauper, Katrina Lenk, Audra McDonald, Bette Midler, Ben Platt, Billy Porter, Ari'el Stachel, Lily Tomlin, and Dick Van Dyke most certainly can. The same goes for producer/directors Anne Garefino, Stan Lathan, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and Scott Sanders.

Matters are a little simpler when it comes to those lacking an Emmy, as the songwriting team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul are alone in having a shot at EGOT, as fellow lyricists and composers Oscar Hammerstein II, Alan Jay Lerner, Frank Loesser, Stephen Sondheim, and Jule Styne have written their last tunes. Henry Fonda only just made the list, as he died five months after winning the Oscar for Best Actor for Mark Rydell's On Golden Pond (1981). But he never did get an Emmy, despite being nominated in 1973, 1975, and 1980.

The list is longer when it comes to Tonys, if only because a number of the listees don't work in legitimate theatre, including music and sound editor Alex Gibson, sound engineer Shawn Murphy, and documentarists Jon Blair, Alex Gibney, James Gay-Rees, James Moll, Morgan Neville, and Caitrin Rogers. Once again, the roster is dominated by those from a musical background, with the lamented John Addison, Burt Bacharach, Marilyn Bergman, and Sid Ramin being unable to alter their fate, while Adele, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Alan Bergman, Common, Eminem, Michael Giacchino, Ludwig Göransson, Hildur Guðnadóttir, Gabriella Wilson (aka H.E.R.), Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, Randy Newman, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and (astonishingly) John Williams perhaps can.

Director/producers Rob Epstein, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, and Martin Scorsese may well yet do something for the stage. As might Cher and Kate Winslet, but the curtain has come down on George Burns, Peter Ustinov, and Robin Williams. As she had been for My Fair Lady (1956) and Camelot (1960) - which were filmed by George Cukor (1964) and Joshua Logan (1967) - Julie Andrews would certainly have been in the running to snag a Tony when she was nominated for Victor/Victoria in 1996. However, as no one else from the production had been recognised, she declined her nomination. Such solidarity means that Andrews currently sits on an Oscar for Robert Stevenson's Mary Poppins (1964), her Grammys for the film soundtrack and Julie Andrews' Collection of Poems, Songs and Lullabies (2011), and her Emmys for The Julie Andrews Hour (1973) and Broadway: The American Musical (2004).

It's hard to believe Andrews didn't win a Grammy for The Sound of Music and first husband, Tony Walton, is among those bereft of a Grammy, as his costume and set designs simply wouldn't show up well on an audio recording. Screenwriter Peter Stone also missed out, along with composer Ralph Burns and director Bob Fosse. But the majority of those in this predicament are performers, who didn't find the right soundtrack or spoken word project. This is the case for Jack Albertson, Anne Bancroft, Ingrid Bergman, Shirley Booth, Melvyn Douglas, Glenda Jackson, Thomas Mitchell, Christopher Plummer, Jason Robards, Paul Scofield, Maureen Stapleton, and Jessica Tandy. However, Ellen Burstyn, Jeremy Irons, Jessica Lange, Frances McDormand, Helen Mirren, Al Pacino, Vanessa Redgrave, Geoffrey Rush, and Maggie Smith should keep their agents on the alert for Grammy-bait recording projects in order to seal their EGOT deals.

A still from Broadway: The American Musical (2004)
A still from Broadway: The American Musical (2004)
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