2020 was quite a year for entertainment. When the pandemic shut down theaters, many of us spent a lot more time in front of the small screen. But being stuck at home wasn’t so bad: TV series such as The Queen’s Gambit and The Flight Attendant reigned supreme on streaming services, and high-profile feature films—from Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom to The Prom—came to us.
Now it’s time for the Golden Globes, when the Hollywood Foreign Press Association honors stars and projects from both movies and television on a single glittery night. Though the 78th annual ceremony (February 28 on NBC) will have no live audience, Tina Fey, 50, and Amy Poehler, 49, will be returning to host, toast and roast for the fourth time, but from different locations: Fey in New York City and Poehler in Beverly Hills. What will the show be like? We don’t know. But we do know that Fey and Poehler are scathingly funny, and that historically the show is wild and wacky. Here’s a look back at some highlights.
The Best Moments in Golden Globe History
1958…friends and “Rat Pack” members Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin stormed the stage with their whiskey glasses and cigarettes and “hijacked” the rest of the show, handing out awards and jokes. The audience loved it. The show wouldn’t have official celebrity hosts until 1995, when John Larroquette and Janine Turner did the honors.
1964…Sidney Poitier accepted the Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama award for Lilies of the Field, becoming the first African American winner in the history of the show. (He’d receive the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award in 1982.) It wasn’t until 1969 that Diahann Carroll became the first African American female winner, collecting the award for Best Actress in a Television Series for Julia.
1980…the youngest Globes winner ever, 9-year-old Ricky Schroder, won New Star of the Year for The Champ.
1982…Pia Zadora, then 28, shocked the crowd when she won New Star of the Year for her turn as a teen nymphet in an obscure incest drama called Butterfly. (Among the future stars she beat were Elizabeth McGovern for Ragtime and Kathleen Turner for Body Heat.) Insiders whispered that the award was “bought” by her then-husband, billionaire businessman Meshulam Riklis. She denies it to this day.
1986…Whoopi Goldberg, who won a best actress award for her breakout role in The Color Purple, ascended the stage in a bright yellow tracksuit, white coat and high-top Reebok sneakers (a hot commodity at the time). “You dream about this kind of stuff,” she said while accepting. “I’m not going to lie. I’ve never seen all these people before!”
1989…there was an astounding three-way tie for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama: Jodie Foster (The Accused); Shirley MacLaine (Madame Sousatzka) and Sigourney Weaver (Gorillas in the Mist). It has never happened again. Foster went on later that year to the win the Best Actress Oscar—all by herself.
1996…the Globes saw the biggest upset of all time in the TV drama category: The earnest young-adult drama Party of Five bested heavyweights ER, NYPD Blue, Chicago Hope and Murder One. This year, Ozark, The Mandalorian, The Crown, Ratched and Lovecraft Country are the acclaimed series nominated for best TV drama.
1998…the most gracious award should have gone to Ving Rhames, who, after winning for HBO’s Don King: Only in America, tearfully turned over his award for Best Actor in a Television Motion Picture to fellow nominee and showbiz legend Jack Lemmon (who played Juror No. 8 in the year’s 12 Angry Men TV movie) right onstage. After the show, Rhames reportedly would not take the trophy back, even at Lemmon’s urging.
2001…presenter Elizabeth Taylor was supposed to walk to the center of the stage, name the nominees and announce the winner. Instead, the Hollywood icon immediately ripped open the envelope for best movie drama and nearly revealed the winner of the night’s big prize, right then and there. The crowd gasped; producer Dick Clark ran onto the stage and interrupted her. The winner? Gladiator—or, as she pronounced it, “Glaaaaadiator!”
2016…87-year-old composer Ennio Morricone (who died in July 2020) became the oldest winner, nabbing Best Motion Picture Score for 2015’s The Hateful Eight. (Jessica Tandy, age 80 when she won for Driving Miss Daisy in 1990, is the oldest winner in an acting category.)
2021…Meryl Streep was snubbed. She didn’t receive a nomination for her role as a faded Broadway diva in the Netflix adaptation of The Prom. No worries, though. Streep has the most individual nominations of all time, with 32 since 1979. She also has the most acting wins, with eight, in addition to receiving the Cecil B. DeMille Award in 2017.