Good as Gold: Hollywood Foreign Press and Golden Globes celebrate 75 years

Movies Features

It has been a turbulent, tumultuous and terrific 75 years, and now the Golden Globes are celebrating their diamond jubilee with a year-long series of star-filled parties, panels and special events.

One of the top events on the Hollywood calendar, the glittering awards show had humble beginnings during the dark days of World War II when a handful of journalists based in Los Angeles got together to honor the best achievements in filmmaking.

The first Golden Globe ceremony was held at the 20th Century Fox Studios in January1944. It attracted little attention and scant publicity as the first-ever awards were presented to 1943's The Song of Bernadette, its star Jennifer Jones and to best actor Paul Lukas for Watch on the Rhine.

The group of journalists had no inkling of what was to come.

It was an uphill struggle at first, as the film industry had not yet realized the importance of foreign markets. At first, the members held informal gatherings in private homes. As the membership grew, meetings were held in larger quarters, such as the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

Over the years, different philosophies led to splits and schisms, but the separations ended in 1955 when the journalists reunited under the collective title Hollywood Foreign Press Association with firm guidelines and requirements for membership.

Over the years, the Golden Globes continued to grow in importance and stature until it has become one of the world's leading awards shows, famous not only for its celebrity-filled ceremony televised around the world and the prestigious Golden Globe awards, but for its freewheeling, anything-goes party atmosphere packed with glamour, entertainment and talent all in one place.

Free-flowing champagne on the red carpet followed by an evening of drinking, partying and table-hopping has spawned many stories of racy behavior, unsteady presenters and backstage hijinks.

In the immortal words of Tina Fey, who hosted with Amy Poehler in 2013, 2014 and 2015 with glasses in hand, "Get a bunch of people who don't eat much, give them a drink and it gets good fast."

While the HFPA's track record of rewarding edgier, more demanding achievements in both film and TV categories demonstrates a seriousness of purpose that regularly matches or surpasses the Oscars, fun and laughter are always high on the agenda.

2018 marks the ceremony's 43rd consecutive year at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, where the International Ballroom's limited number of seats and tightly controlled guest list ensure exclusivity and a special chemistry and magic.

And when the three-hour show is over, the parties continue, with the studios and networks taking over different parts of the hotel for their own celebrations. This year, the Hollywood Foreign Press will host its own star-filled after=party at the hotel's recently completed The Gardens venue.

While the hosts—in recent years Tina, Amy, Ricky Gervais (four times) and Jimmy Fallon—set the tone of the evening with jokes and jibes, it is the impromptu, off-the-cuff happenings that provide the unexpected and often hilarious moments.

In fact, the concept of celebrity hosts was inadvertently set back in 1958, the first year the Globes were televised, when Rat Packers Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. commandeered the stage, drinks and cigarettes in hand, to take over the show and present the Globes.

But the first public admission of tipsiness was by Walter Matthau, presenting in 1973: "If everyone seems to be acting peculiar, it's because we haven't eaten yet—and all there is on the table is booze." Since then, celebrity mishaps and carefree behavior—not always brought on by drink—have been part of the fun.

When Christine Lahti was announced as the best actress winner for the TV drama “Chicago Hope” in 1998, she was nowhere to be seen and had to be fetched from the ladies room.

The same year, Ving Rhames shocked the audience by giving the Globe he had just been awarded for his role in Don King: Only in America to fellow nominee Jack Lemmon. In tears over his win, he called Lemmon,nominated for 12 Angry Men, to the stage, saying: "I feel that being an artist is about giving, and I’d like to give this to you.” He handed his Golden Globe trophy to Lemmon, who was clearly shocked and speechless but also touched by the gesture, as well as the celebrity audience, who gave both Rhames and Lemmon a standing ovation.

Elizabeth Taylor proved that even major movie stars can fluff their lines when in 2001, presenting the best drama award to Gladiator, she slurred her words, tearing open the envelope to announce the winner before reading the nominees. The show's producer Dick Clark had to come from backstage to help her out.

The hearing-impaired actress Marlee Matlin, winning the best actress award in 1987 for Children of a Lesser God, gave her acceptance speech in sign language. Two years later, Tom Hanks, winning his first major award as best actor in Big, gave a nod to his new wife in his acceptance speech: "I married a Greek babe... Her folks are great, she's marvelous. Thank you for marrying me, you made my year already."

A somewhat unsteady Jack Nicholson, accepting the Globe for best dramatic actor for About Schmidt, admitted to taking a Valium and announced: ''I don't know whether to be happy or ashamed because I thought we made a comedy."

And in 2014, Emma Thompson presented an award clasping a martini glass in one hand and her shoes in another. Struggling to open the envelope, she flung her high heels over her shoulder, declaring that her feet hurt.

Although the red carpet is the place to be seen and photographed, not everyone is overly concerned with wearing the designer du jour and being in the forefront of the latest fashions.

Instead, they have preferred to make a statement like Bjork with her infamous swan dress and accompanying egg clutch, and Cher's outlandish headdress. When Whoopi Goldberg won the best actress award for her role in The Color Purple in 1986, she turned up wearing a yellow tracksuit and a white overcoat. And in 2011, Helena Bonham Carter walked the red carpet in sunglasses, an ill-fitting Vivienne Westwood gown and mismatched shoes.

Angelina Jolie famously jumped in the hotel pool after her win for Gia in 1999 and the show has also been the venue for some high-profile flirtations. Matt Damon and a pre-rehab Ben Affleck were emerging stars when they won best screenplay in 1998 and backstage flirted with Elizabeth Hurley, who didn't seem to mind at all. And Harrison Ford was introduced to Calista Flockhart, whom he later married, at the 2002 Golden Globes.

As the awards show grew, new categories were added. In 1952, the Cecil B. DeMille award was introduced to honor the body of work of an entertainment professional. Iconic Hollywood director DeMille himself was the first recipient, followed by Walt Disney the next year. The 2017 recipient was Meryl Streep, who accepted the award with a passionate and galvanizing speech about the political situation in America.

In 1971, the first Miss Golden Globe, Anne Archer, was introduced. Since then, every year the daughter (or son) of a well-known performer has been chosen to assist in the Golden Globes ceremony. Other Miss Golden Globes have included Laura Dern, Joely Fisher, Melanie Griffith, Dakota Johnson and Lorraine Nicholson. Mr. Golden Globes have included John Clark Gable and Freddie Prinze, Jr.

This year a new record was established with three Miss Golden Globes, Sistine, Sophia and Scarlet, daughters of Sylvester Stallone and Jennifer Flavin.

There will doubtless be more additions and innovations in the years to come as new members with new ideas join the Association.


Golden Globe Facts

* The film awarded the most Golden Globes is La La Land, which was nominated in seven categories and won every one of them.

* 1975′s Nashville had most nominations for one film in a single year—nine—but the film took home only one statuette, for Best Song.

* Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1967) and The Godfather Part III (1991) each received seven nominations, but lost in every category and went home empty-handed.

* The tally for most individual Globes is eight to Meryl Streep (from 27 nominations), six to Jack Nicholson, and five each to Francis Ford Coppola, Shirley MacLaine, Rosalind Russell and Oliver Stone.


About the HFPA

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has some 90 members, representing 55 countries with a combined readership of more than 250 million. Each year, members interview more than 400 actors, directors, writers and producers, as well as reporting from film sets and seeing more than 300 films. Members also attend film festivals in other countries in order to seek out interesting and innovative foreign-language films and establish cultural bonds with directors, actors, jurors and fellow journalists around the world.

Although the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is known throughout the world for the Golden Globes, what is not so well known are its wide-ranging philanthropic activities.

Thanks to the Globes, over the past 30 years the HFPA has donated almost $30 million to a vast range of charitable projects. They include the preservation of films—nearly 100 films including the original King Kong, The Red Shoes and A Fistful of Dollars have been restored—higher education, scholarships, training and mentoring and the promotion of cultural exchange through cinema. Recipients of annual donations ranging from $5,000 to $350,000 include the Film Foundation, the Children's Hospital, university film schools, the Motion Picture and Television Fund and many other nonprofits, institutions and charities.

The HFPA recently gave $2 million, its largest single donation ever, to the Los Angeles City College Foundation for the college's cinema and television department. In addition, the Association reacts swiftly to disasters around the world and has donated millions of dollars to rescue and aid organizations.

The grants are handed out at a dinner which over the years has evolved into almost a mini-Globes ceremony with its own red carpet arrivals and a roster of high-profile stars showing up to accept not statuettes but sizeable checks from the HFPA on behalf of the wide range of charities.