It’s the most coveted honor in all of Hollywood: the EGOT.
Representing the top awards in television (Emmy), music (Grammy), film (Oscar), and theater (Tony), it’s considered the grand slam of show business — a four of a kind sweep that only the rarest of stars have been able to achieve.
The term was coined by Miami Vice actor Philip Michael Thomas, who first told it to the Associated Press in 1984 at the height of the NBC action show’s success. “That stands for Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony,” he said. “Hopefully in the next five years I will win all those awards.”
(Thomas has yet to be nominated for any of those awards. But he did have the letters engraved in a gold pendant he wore around his neck — a choice parodied in an episode of 30 Rock)
To date, twelve people have picked up the honor: Richard Rodgers (1962), Helen Hayes (1977), Rita Moreno (1977), John Gielgud (1991), Audrey Hepburn (1994), Marvin Hamlisch (1995), Jonathan Tunick (1997), Mel Brooks (2001), Mike Nichols (2001), Whoopi Goldberg (2002), Scott Rudin (2012), and Robert Lopez (2014).
Of the twelve, only Hayes and Moreno nabbed their win with the Triple Crown of Acting awards — meaning they took home an Emmy, Oscar, and Tony award for singular acting.
The first-ever EGOT was composer Rodgers. He received his initial award in 1945 — an Oscar for his Best Original Song from State Fair, “It Might as Well Be Spring.” It would take Rodgers 17 years to finally receive his fourth distinct award and EGOT status — an Emmy in 1962 for Winston Churchill: The Valiant Years‘ original music.
The most recent EGOT winner was songwriter Lopez. He holds the record for earning the title in the shortest amount of time, with just 10 years between his first award (a Tony for 2004’s Avenue Q score) and his last award (an Oscar for 2014’s Best Original Song from Frozen, the ubiquitous “Let It Go”). Lopez is also the youngest person to achieve this feat, having done so at just 39.
Liza Minnelli, James Earl Jones, Barbra Streisand, Alan Menken and Harry Belafonte also have EGOTs — though they received one of their awards non-competitively. Streisand received a “Star of the Decade” Tony Award in 1970, for example. Jones was given an honorary Oscar in 2011, as was Belafonte in 2014 (specifically, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award). Minnelli and Menken grabbed an honorary Grammy and Emmy, respectively, in 1990.
Over 70 stars are one award away from winning the EGOT — including Hamilton scribe Lin-Manuel Miranda, who is nominated for his fourth award — an Oscar — this year for Moana‘s original song, “How Far I’ll Go.”
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The Grammy seems to be the hardest to win, with 24 stars still seeking the recording academy’s biggest honor to claim EGOT status. Among that list? Ellen Burstyn, Jeremy Irons, Jessica Lange, Francis McDormand, Helen Mirren, Al Pacino, Christopher Plummer, Vanessa Redgrave, Geoffrey Rush, and Maggie Smith.
Nearly 20 stars — including Julie Andrews, Cher, and Kate Winslet —are missing a Tony, while 10 stars — among them Elton John, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Stephen Sondheim — are one Emmy away from victory.
Franchises can also receive EGOT glory — that is, titles that have won top awards over their various adaptations. There have been five franchises to get this honor: The Lion King, The Sound of Music, Aladdin, and The Wizard of Oz.