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10 Invasive Facts About Mars Attacks!

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Independence Day wasn’t the only star-studded alien invasion flick to come out in 1996. That year, Tim Burton saluted the campy sci-fi epics of decades past with his big-budget B-movie Mars Attacks! Here are 10 facts about the cult classic that’ll blow your mind—just like a certain Slim Whitman song.

1. IT’S BASED ON A CONTROVERSIAL SET OF TRADING CARDS.

In 1962, the Topps Company, Inc.—best known for its iconic baseball cards—infuriated quite a lot of parents by releasing some subversive new collectibles. Mars Attacks! was a bubble gum trading card series that chronicled a fictitious alien invasion. In total, there were 55 cards, each adorned with a grim painting by comic book artist Norman Saunders, and many of these images were downright unsettling.

One card showed a giant insect decapitating naked women in a shower room. Another featured a dog being vaporized right in front of its owner—a small child. Needless to say, Topps soon found itself in hot water over these. “We started to get some bad publicity,” recalls series co-creator Len Brown. “[People asked] ‘How could you put out such gory trading cards for little kids?’” Newspaper editorials slammed the franchise, a district attorney called Topps president Joel Shorin to complain, and angry letters flooded the company’s mailrooms.

Within months, the set was discontinued. But America hadn’t seen the last of Mars Attacks! Despite all the controversy, these gruesome cards won an underground following, and, in 1984, the original 55 were reissued. Since then, Topps has put forth dozens of Mars Attacks! products, from new cards to comic books to action figures. Meanwhile, first-edition 1962 cards have become serious collector’s items: In 2008, a mint condition copy of just one card sold for $3600 at an auction sale.

2. BURTON WANTED HIS MARTIANS TO BE ANIMATED VIA STOP-MOTION.

The concept of a Mars Attacks! movie first surfaced in 1985, but development wouldn’t begin in earnest until 1994, when screenwriter John Gems and director Tim Burton got involved with the project. To bring the aliens to life, Burton intended to utilize stop-motion animation, something he’s “always [loved] and always will.”

Early in pre-production, a set of 12-inch articulated Martian models were built for testing purposes. At first, Burton’s plan was to have these animated in front of a blue screen. They would then be inserted digitally onto miniature sets by the artists at Industrial Light and Magic (ILM). Ultimately, though, Burton decided to abandon the stop-motion approach when ILM presented him with some impressive screen tests featuring computer-animated aliens.

Despite this, Mars Attacks! still pays tribute to the older effects technique. At Burton’s instruction, ILM animated the digital extraterrestrials as if they were stop motion puppets. This is why the Martians move a bit more rigidly than did most contemporary CG characters, such as the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park (1993).

3. THE ALIENS’ LOOK WAS INSPIRED BY SOME MAGAZINE ART AND A CLASSIC SCI-FI FLICK.

When Len Brown and his Topps colleague Woody Gelman created the trading card series, they decided to give their Martians a bold, grotesque design. “Somehow, the cliché of little green men from another planet just didn’t seem dramatic enough,” Brown says. “My love of old comic books brought to mind an issue of E.C.’s Weird Science from 1952, with a striking cover illustration by Wally Wood."

As Brown explains, "The cover depicted UFOs landing on the Earth and releasing a group of large-brained, foreboding aliens onto our world. The invaders were pretty hideous, like nothing I had ever seen before—until in 1955 when I saw a similar-looking creature in the Universal movie This Island Earth.” (Cult cinema fans will recognize this as the film that was riffed in 1996’s Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie.) These twin sources provided the inspiration for the physical appearance of the aliens that popped up on Topps’ cards. Decades later, the Mars Attacks! movie reproduced this design quite faithfully. Hey if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it…

4. WHY DID SO MANY CELEBRITIES JOIN THE CAST? THANK JACK NICHOLSON.

Let’s do a quick head count. Glenn Close, Martin Short, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Michael J. Fox, and Sarah Jessica Parker are just a few of the big names on this movie’s mile-long list of stars. And yet, when the casting process began, Mars Attacks! struggled to attract any players with serious marquee value. Gems blames this on the fact that most of its characters either die in some cartoonish manner or end up disfigured.

“Agents didn’t want to see their star clients playing loser roles, and a lot of big acts passed on the project,” he says. “At one point, we thought we were going to have to cancel the film. The guy who saved our butt was Jack Nicholson.” According to Burton, the Academy Award-winner was enthusiastic about joining Mars Attacks! from the very start. After sending Nicholson the script, Burton gave him a call while location-scouting. “Which part would you like to do?” asked the director. “How about all of them?” Nicholson replied.

In the end, he was double-cast as President Dale and a sleazy Vegas businessman. Once word got around that Nicholson would be involved, other celebs lined up to join the ensemble. “We started getting requests from more stars than there were parts for,” Gems notes. “It was like a tidal wave when Jack came on.”

5. THE “MARTIAN GIRL” WIG GAVE ACTRESS LISA MARIE A NASTY SCAR.

“I mean, it was instant torture,” Marie said in a 2015 interview. The movie’s femme fatale rocks a bulbous hairdo comprised of two separate blonde wigs—made with real human hair—that were stitched together. Given its considerable weight, wearing this apparatus wasn’t a pleasant experience. “I have a scar from the wig,” Marie revealed, “I have a hole in my head from that damn wig.” Still, like a true professional, she soldiered on despite the discomfort and remembers her character fondly. “It’s always worth it,” added the actress. “[I do] whatever it takes."

6. FOOTAGE OF A REAL CASINO’S DESTRUCTION WAS USED IN THE MOVIE.

On November 7, 1995, the Landmark Hotel and Casino—an oddly-shaped 31-story building in Paradise, Nevada—was brought down via controlled implosion. The event was filmed and this footage was later incorporated into the assault on Las Vegas scene in Mars Attacks!

7. DANNY ELFMAN’S SCORE WAS A MUSICAL TRIBUTE TO THE GOLDEN AGE OF SCI-FI CINEMA.

Elfman—who’d provided the soundtrack for every previous Tim Burton film with the exception of Ed Wood (1994)—gave Mars Attacks! some decidedly old-school background music. “The goal was to invoke the ‘50s and that sci-fi sound that Tim and I both grew up on,” he told Vulture.

To pull this off, he made liberal use of one of history’s first electronic instruments, the theremin. Invented by (and named after) Russian scientist Leon Theremin, it produces an eerie, humming wail. Throughout the 1950s, film composers embraced the aural gadget as a perfect mood-setter for science fiction and horror pictures.

Due to its usage in such movies as The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Thing From Another World (both released in 1951), the public came to associate theremins with stories about extraterrestrial visitors. Elfman deliberately capitalized on this by using said instrument as a key component of the ominous “alien march” theme in his Mars Attacks! score.

8. DEPENDING ON WHO YOU ASK, THE ALIENS’ SQUAWKS WERE EITHER THE PRODUCT OF IMPROVISATION OR “PLACEHOLDER DIALOGUE."

The Martians in this film mainly communicate with a series of duck-like “Ack! Ack! Ack!” noises. Burton traces their monosyllabic language back to one fateful day in pre-production. “We did a storyboard reel using a cheap tape recorder—and we don’t even remember who did it—someone just [said] ‘yak-yak, yak-yak’ when it came time for the Martians to speak,” he told the Chicago Tribune.

Burton maintains that this improvised squawk “ended up kind of sticking. It just seemed like their voice.” On the other hand, two of the film’s uncredited screenwriters believe that they devised this particular sound effect with nary a recorder in sight. While the script was being fine-tuned, Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski—the scribes behind Burton’s Ed Wood biopic—made some heavy revisions to Gem’s original screenplay. The pair claims that the “Ack! Ack! Ack!” shtick was (sort of) their idea. “That was all us,” Karaszewski declares.

Supposedly, while Gem’s script often called for the aliens to talk, he didn’t give them any actual dialogue. Alexander then started typing “Ack!” over and over again as a verbal placeholder. All the while, neither man suspected that the utterance would make its way into the finished movie. “We didn’t know Tim was just going to take that and use it,” Karaszewski says.

9. INDEPENDENCE DAY OWES ITS TITLE—AND PART OF ITS PREMISE—TO MARS ATTACKS!

While Burton toiled away on Mars Attacks!, Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich were writing an alien invasion movie of their own, but theirs was to have a more serious tone. The duo knew that both pictures would be released at some point in the summer of 1996.

“I said to Dean, we can’t do our film after a parody comes out. We had to beat [Burton] to it,” Emmerich recently said in an interview with The Guardian. “If it came out on the 4 July weekend, we would beat Mars Attacks!, which was coming out in August. So we wrote the concept around the release date. Dean said: ‘Let’s just call it Independence Day; we can come up with something better later.” The rest is history.

10. HOWARD STERN HAS IMPLIED THAT THE ENDING WAS LIFTED FROM ONE OF HIS RADIO SKITS.

To these big-brained Martians, nuclear weapons are harmless, but Slim Whitman’s yodeling is deadly. At the end of Mars Attacks!, the country singer’s 1952 hit “Indian Love Call” is used to burst the aliens’ noggins with grim efficiency. Upon seeing this climax unfold, Howard Stern had the strangest feeling of déjà vu.

In 1982, the radio personality had done a sketch with an almost identical premise for the New York station WNBC. The title of Stern’s bit? “Slim Whitman Versus the Midget Aliens From Mars.” Years later, when he got around to watching Mars Attacks!, Stern couldn’t resist pointing out the similarities on the air. And during a subsequent interview with Burton for The Howard Stern Show, he raised the subject again. “I wouldn’t sue you because I love you too much,” Stern said, “but I don’t think it’s a coincidence.” Burton, for his part, called the parallels “surreal” and noted that “something about Slim’s voice is very sonic.”

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MGM Home Entertainment
11 Fun Facts About A Fish Called Wanda
MGM Home Entertainment
MGM Home Entertainment

In 1988, the British heist comedy A Fish Called Wanda had audiences in the UK and across the pond rolling in the aisles. Thirty years later, the Oscar-winning ensemble movie about a clueless (but don’t call him stupid) weapons expert, a bumbling barrister, a quick-witted femme fatale, and a stuttering con artist remains a cult favorite. Starring John Cleese, Kevin Kline, Michael Palin, Jamie Lee Curtis, and of course, the eponymous fish, the film is packed with smart writing, silly slapstick, and some of the strongest comic performances of its starring actors’ careers. Here are 11 facts about A Fish Called Wanda for your unreserved enjoyment (just don’t ask us to repeat the part in the middle).

1. IT WAS DIRECTOR CHARLES CRICHTON’S FIRST FILM IN TWO DECADES.

Back in the 1950s, Charles Crichton was a famous director of Ealing Comedies—a series of comedy films produced by London’s Ealing Studios—who was known for his work on films like The Titfield Thunderbolt (1953), Hue and Cry (1947), and The Lavender Hill Mob (1951). By 1988, however, he hadn’t directed a feature film in two decades (though he had worked on TV shows and documentary shorts). He came out of semi-retirement to work on what would become his final film at the behest of John Cleese.

2. CRICHTON AND JOHN CLEESE SPENT FIVE YEARS WRITING THE FILM.

A Fish Called Wanda was years, even decades, in the making. Cleese and Crichton first met and began discussing ideas for a comedy heist film, inspired by The Lavender Hill Mob, all the way back in 1969. Though they parted ways professionally, Cleese continued to look for opportunities to collaborate on a film with Crichton. More than a decade later, he finally got his chance when he found himself working with Crichton on a series of business management training videos.

Though Crichton was already in his late seventies, Cleese managed to convince the semi-retired director to brainstorm ideas for a feature film with him. For the next few years, the two met periodically to throw around ideas and work on the script. All in all, the entire scriptwriting and pre-production process took more than five years and cost $150,000 of Cleese’s own money.

3. IT WAS INSPIRED BY THE EALING COMEDIES.

Unsurprisingly, A Fish Called Wanda was heavily indebted to the Ealing Comedies, especially Crichton’s own The Lavender Hill Mob, a heist comedy which starred Alec Guinness and Stanley Holloway as a pair of bumbling bank robbers. Cleese, however, claimed the parallels between the Ealing Comedies and A Fish Called Wanda were unintentional, but embraced the comparison.

“I knew that my memory of all these great Ealing films was very present, although I wasn’t consciously trying to write an Ealing comedy,” Cleese explained. “But I do remember when we interviewed Johnny Jympson when we were looking for an editor, and Johnny’d read it, and he came in and sat down, and Charlie said, ‘What’d you think?’ and Johnny was almost nervous and he hemmed and hawed a little bit and then he said very uncertainly, ‘Well, it’s an Ealing comedy, isn’t it?’ and we both said, ‘Yes!’”

4. THE ACTORS HELPED SHAPE THEIR CHARACTERS.

Cleese encouraged Kevin Kline, Michael Palin, and Jamie Lee Curtis to contribute ideas and help develop their characters. Curtis, in particular, was responsible for major changes to Wanda’s personality. "She was a sexually brazen, cold-hearted manipulator, who simply wanted money,” Curtis told The New York Times. “I didn't find that real. I decided she didn't altogether know what she wanted, but finds a wonderful power in manipulating people and feels personal satisfaction in trying to fool them. She plays a slightly different role for each man, yet she enjoys being herself, and she's not cold-hearted, not vicious.''

Curtis told The New York Times she reveled in the rare opportunity to shape her own character: ''Most films, one person is in charge, and you're afraid even to raise your hand with a suggestion,'' she explained. ''That's frustrating if you're a bright person and trust your instincts. But this was totally a collaborative effort, and I'm afraid it's spoiled me.'' She was, apparently, so enthusiastic a contributor over the course of a two-week rehearsal period that Palin gave her a shirt that read, “Wait, I have an idea.”

5. KEVIN KLINE’S CHARACTER WAS INSPIRED BY A LOS ANGELES SELF-HELP GURU.

In A Fish Called Wanda, Kline’s Otto is a pseudo-intellectual who constantly misinterprets everything from the teachings of Buddhist philosophy to the writings of Nietzsche. According to Cleese, his character was inspired by the real-life self-help guru Zen Master Rama, sometimes called the “yuppie guru.”

“I got the real key to the character out of Los Angeles Magazine,” Cleese explained in an interview. “I found a double-page spread for a guru, and I’m pretty sure his name was Zen Master Rama, and he looked about 32 and very unsure of himself, and he had a funny sort of hairstyle like a dandelion at the end of September. But the key thing was the line across the top of this two page advertisement for the seminars he ran at weekends, which was ‘Buddhism gives you the competitive edge.’ And I thought this was unbelievably funny.”

6. CLEESE’S CHARACTER WAS NAMED AFTER CARY GRANT.

Cleese named his character Archie Leach after movie star Cary Grant, who was born Archibald Leach. Though Cleese’s bumbling lawyer has little in common with the famously debonair Grant, Cleese explained that he chose the name because he and Grant shared a hometown, and because it was the closest he would ever get to “being Cary Grant.”

7. THE ORIGINAL ENDING WAS MUCH DARKER.

A Fish Called Wanda started off as a much darker comedy, but test audiences in America were apparently uncomfortable with the film’s cruelty, and lack of romantic payoff, so Crichton and his cast went in for a few re-shoots. In addition to softening Palin’s character a bit, they ended up re-shooting the film’s ending three times.

“We played the whole movie with this very sort of dark intent—it was a very black comedy—and of course, when they tested the movie in America, it tested very funny, except that people didn’t like that there was no real love story,” Curtis said, further explaining:

“The original ending of the movie was much darker. The costume designer and I had a really great time costuming this character, and in a department store in London on sale, we found a pair of shark shoes, and we bought them because we just thought, ‘Well, she’s just a shark.’ And we wore them in that last scene, and literally the last shot of the movie was going down my leg and freeze framing on the shark shoe. And right then, you knew she was going to take him for everything. The minute they got off the plane, she was going to bop him on the head, take the stuff, and leave.”

8. CLEESE CUT A BIG CHUNK OF THE CATHCART TOWERS SCENE.

In addition to changing the ending, Cleese cut several minutes from the film’s penultimate scene, in which Archie tries to get the stuttering Ken (Palin) to telling him where Wanda, Otto, and the diamonds are. Ken, whose stutter gets worse under pressure, can’t seem to utter the two words “Cathcart Towers.”

Initially, the scene was a Monty Python-esque series of increasingly absurd stunts—Ken attempting to sing the words (which remains in the final film), Archie trying to feed a tissue through a typewriter, Ken writing in toothpaste on a window—but Cleese worried the scene, which arrives at the climax of the film, was overly long and dragging the plot down, and so deleted most of it.

9. ONE AUDIENCE MEMBER LAUGHED HIMSELF TO DEATH.

Ole Bentzen, a Belgian audience member, was so tickled by the scene in which Ken has French fries stuck up his nose, that he actually laughed himself to death. The scene reminded him of a similar experience at a family dinner, in which his family had shoved cauliflower up their noses to great comic effect. He began laughing so hard, his heart rate escalated dangerously, causing a fatal heart attack.

10. IT WAS NOMINATED FOR THREE OSCARS.

Comedy movies rarely fare well at the Oscars, but A Fish Called Wanda was an exception. The film was nominated for three awards: for Best Original Screenplay (for Cleese and Crichton), Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor for Kevin Kline, who took home the statuette.

11. IT WAS THE TOP VIDEO RENTAL OF 1989.

A Fish Called Wanda beat a number of higher-budget blockbuster movies, including Die Hard (1988) and Coming to America (1988), as well as the Oscar-winning Rain Man (1988), to become the top video rental of 1989. Its success was due, in part, to an advertising partnership with Cadbury Schweppes, which plastered grocery stores for weeks with ads for the film.

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12 EGOT Winners (and 25 Almost-EGOTS)
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Archive Photos/Getty Images

Life should have been good for Miami Vice’s Philip Michael Thomas in 1985. He was the star of one of television’s biggest hits, had released his first album as part of a multimillion dollar deal with Atlantic Records, and was making a name for himself in the fashion world (or at least trying to) with his very own women’s clothing line. But Thomas still had loftier goals, both in mind and on the gold medallion he was so fond of wearing. That dream was an EGOT.

Though Thomas swore that the engraved letters E, G, O, and T on his prized necklace stood for energy, growth, opportunity, and talent, those around the then-36-year-old actor unanimously gave a different translation: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony—the four awards Thomas had intended to win over the next few years. It’s now more than 30 years later and Thomas has yet to even be nominated for any one of those accolades.

While an EGOT may seem an unlikely reality for Thomas, it’s not an impossibility for all artists. If John Legend can beat out Benedict Cumberbatch to win this year's Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Movie for Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert, he'll become the 13th member of the EGOT winners' circle—and one of its youngest. Here are the 12 current members, a couple of SHEGOTS, plus several artists who are just one award away.

1. RICHARD RODGERS

Richard Rodgers
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Before there was even a name for it, American composer Richard Rodgers became the first person to EGOT (yes, the acronym can also be used as a verb) when he won an Emmy for the television documentary Winston Churchill: The Valiant Years. His Oscar came in 1945, when his “It Might as Well Be Spring” from State Fair was named Best Song. He earned Grammys in both 1960 and 1962, for the original cast recordings of The Sound of Music and No Strings, respectively. Between 1950 and 1962, he won six Tony Awards, three of them in that first year for South Pacific. The same year, South Pacific also earned Rodgers a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, which we guess makes him a PEGOT.

2. HELEN HAYES

Helen Hayes
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In 1977, 15 years after Rodgers inaugurated the honor, actress Helen Hayes joined him as the first female EGOT—an honor that took her 45 years to achieve, the longest of any of her EGOT peers. Her road began in 1932, when she won the Oscar for The Sin of Madelon Claudet (she won a second Oscar for 1970’s Airport). Her first Tony came in 1947, for Happy Birthday, followed by another in 1958 for Time Remembered. And she won a Best Actress Emmy in 1953 for an episode of Schlitz Playhouse of Stars. But it would take more than two decades for her to nab that elusive second letter, which she did for Best Spoken Word Recording for Great American Documents.

3. RITA MORENO

Rita Moreno
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Seven months after Hayes earned her EGOT, actress Rita Moreno did the same when she won her first of two consecutive Emmys for a guest spot on The Muppet Show in 1977 (the following year she won one for an appearance on The Rockford Files). But Moreno did it in about a third the time of Hayes, 16 years, which was an EGOT record until Lopez smashed it last night. Her Oscar came in 1961 as Best Supporting Actress in West Side Story, followed by a Best Recording for Children Grammy in 1972, for The Electric Company. In 1975, Moreno nabbed a Tony playing Googie Gomez in Terrence McNally’s The Ritz, a role she reprised in the 1976 big-screen version.

4. JOHN GIELGUD

John Gielgud
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Unlike his three predecessors, the Oscar wasn’t the first award John Gielgud won to earn his EGOT. Instead it was the Tony, which he first won in 1948 for The Importance of Being Earnest. He won a second Tony in 1961, as the director of Big Fish, Little Fish. Next came the Grammy, in 1979, for his dramatic recording of Ages of Man. In 1981, Gielgud took home the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his iconic role as Dudley Moore’s butler/sidekick in Arthur. And when he won the Emmy in 1991, for Outstanding Lead Actor in Summer’s Lease, he was 87 years old, making him the oldest EGOT-getter.

5. AUDREY HEPBURN

Audrey Hepburn
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Unfortunately, Audrey Hepburn didn’t live long enough to enjoy her EGOT. Two of her awards—her 1994 Grammy for the children’s album Audrey Hepburn’s Enchanted Tales and her 1993 Emmy for the informational Gardens of the World with Audrey Hepburn—were awarded after her passing on January 20, 1993, which made her the first posthumous EGOT recipient. She did, however, have the chance to bask in the glow of her 1953 Oscar for Roman Holiday, and a Tony for Ondine one year later.

6. MARVIN HAMLISCH

Marvin Hamlisch
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There’s a distinctively heavy emphasis on the “O” in composer Marvin Hamlisch’s EGOT, as he is the most Academy Award-winning of the bunch, with a total of three. All of them were awarded in 1973—two for The Way We Were and one for his score for The Sting. It was “The Way We Were” that earned him his first of four Grammys, too, in 1974. His collaboration with Barbra Streisand continued, and earned him two Emmys in 1995, for Barbra: The Concert. Hamlisch’s Tony came in 1976 for A Chorus Line, the musical that also got him a Pulitzer Prize, making him the only other PEGOT on this list.

7. JONATHAN TUNICK

Jonathan Tunick
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Composer/conductor Jonathan Tunick’s path to EGOT glory was a straight shot over the course of 20 years: In 1977 he won an Oscar for A Little Night Music, followed by an Emmy for Music Direction in 1982 for Night of 100 Stars, a 1988 Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement for Cleo Laine’s “No One is Alone,” and, finally, a 1997 Tony for Best Orchestrations for Titanic.

8. MEL BROOKS

Mel Brooks
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Yes, Mel Brooks can do it all. In June of 2001 he became the world’s eighth EGOT winner, just a few weeks shy of his 75th birthday, when he earned three Tony Awards—for Best Musical, Best Original Score, and Best Book of a Musical—for The Producers. It was The Producers that brought Brooks his Oscar as well, for Best Original Screenplay (albeit 33 years earlier). Brooks’s first award came in 1967, when he won the Emmy for writing The Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, Howard Morris Special. Beginning in 1997, he won three consecutive Emmys, this time as a guest actor on the sitcom Mad About You. It was during that same period that he also won his first of three Grammys, in 1998 for Best Spoken Comedy Album for The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000. In a 2013 NPR interview, Brooks mentioned this crowning achievement, saying, “I'm an EGOT, so I don't need any more [awards].”

9. MIKE NICHOLS

Mike Nichols
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Mike Nichols earned his EGOT in the same year as Mel Brooks, though it took him a full 40 years to get there (versus Brooks’s 34). The late comedian-turned-director’s path began with a 1961 Best Comedy Performance Grammy for An Evening With Mike Nichols And Elaine May. In 1964, he won his first of nine Tony Awards for Barefoot in the Park (his second came a year later for The Odd Couple). In 1967 he was named Best Director at the Oscars for The Graduate. And in 2001 he won his first two of four Emmys—for Outstanding Directing and Outstanding Made for Television Movie—for Wit.

10. WHOOPI GOLDBERG

Whoopi Goldberg
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If Philip Michael Thomas invented the idea of the EGOT, Tracy Morgan—as Tracy Jordan—brought the phrase back into popular use on 30 Rock, when he set the same goal and even wore the necklace. And they even got real-life EGOT winner Whoopi Goldberg to play along and poke fun at the debate over whether she should truly be included as her Emmy is a Daytime one. (“It still counts,” she told Tracy. “Girl’s gotta eat!”) Goldberg's first award was a 1985 Grammy for Best Comedy Recording of Whoopi Goldberg—Original Broadway Show Recording. Next came a 1990 Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Ghost. In 2002 she got her E and T: an Emmy for hosting Beyond Tara: The Extraordinary Life of Hattie McDaniel and a Tony as co-producer of Thoroughly Modern Millie, which won Best Musical.

11. SCOTT RUDIN

Scott Rudin
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Scott Rudin is the first producer to EGOT. He earned his gold medallion in 2012 when The Book of Mormon: Original Broadway Cast Recording earned a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album (an award Rudin shares with fellow EGOT Robert Lopez). Rudin’s first award—an Emmy—came in 1984, for the kid’s show He Makes Me Feel Like Dancin’. He earned his first of 15 Tony Awards in 1994 for Passion, and his most recent in 2017 for Hello, Dolly!. While Rudin is probably best known as a film producer, he’s only got one Oscar to his credit, a 2007 Best Picture statue for the Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men.

12. ROBERT LOPEZ

Robert Lopez
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In 2014, songwriter Robert Lopez became the newest EGOT when he and his wife, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, took home the Oscar for Best Original Song for Frozen’s “Let It Go.” (The pair won a second statuette earlier this year for the song "Remember Me" from Coco.) In addition to being the newest member of the EGOT winners' circle, he is also the youngest member of the club (he's 43 years old now, but had just turned 39 when he was "inducted.") Lopez is also the fastest artist to achieve the honor, taking just 10 years to earn all four awards, beginning with a 2004 Tony Award for Best Score for Avenue Q, followed by two Daytime Emmys in 2008 and 2010 for Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction and Composition for Wonder Pets. In 2012, Lopez and Rudin shared the Grammy for The Book of Mormon, making them the first pair of EGOTs to have a shared award get them into the circle.

(SH)EGOTS

Though the official number of EGOT winners is 12, it’s worth noting that there are a handful of other rather famous faces who have also earned all four awards ... but because at least one of them is a special or honorary award only—not a competitive one—their inclusion in the official club is questionable. Let’s call them SHEGOTs?

1. BARBRA STREISAND


Terry Fincher, Express/Getty Images

Amazingly, the only Tony Award that Barbra Steisand has on her mantel is a non-competitive one; in 1970, she was named Star of the Decade.

2. LIZA MINNELLI

Performer Liza Minnelli
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Liza Minnelli may have been handed a Grammy Legend Award in 1990—but this legend has no competitive Grammy to speak (or sing) of.

3. JAMES EARL JONES

James Earl Jones accepts the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre onstage during the 2017 Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 11, 2017 in New York City
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Though he's been a Hollywood icon for decades, James Earl Jones's only Oscar win was an honorary one in 2012. He did receive a Best Actor nomination in 1971 for The Great White Hope, but lost out to George C. Scott for Patton. (It's worth noting that Scott had alerted the Academy ahead of time that he refused the nomination, so it was hardly surprising that he wasn't there to accept the actual award.)

4. ALAN MENKEN

Johnny Mercer Award Honoree Alan Menken performs onstage at the Songwriters Hall Of Fame 48th Annual Induction and Awards at New York Marriott Marquis Hotel on June 15, 2017 in New York City
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Composer/songwriter Alan Menken won the Tony for Best Original Score for the Broadway version of Newsies in 2012, but his 1990 Emmy for his contribution to "Wonderful Ways to Say No," an anti-drug cartoon special, was an honorary one—leaving him one official award short of an EGOT.

5. HARRY BELAFONTE

Harry Belafonte attends the 2016 Library Lions Gala at New York Public Library - Stephen A Schwartzman Building on November 7, 2016 in New York City
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In 2014, Harry Belafonte was awarded the Academy's Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award—putting him in the elite class of a half-dozen (SH)EGOTs.

6. QUINCY JONES

Music producer Quincy Jones attends Spotify's Inaugural Secret Genius Awards hosted by Lizzo at Vibiana on November 1, 2017 in Los Angeles, California
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Music producer Quincy Jones may be one of the world's most award-winning artists, but a competitive Oscar has so far eluded him. Like Belafonte, the only Academy Award he has won is the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award (which he received in 1994). Beyond that, he is a seven-time Oscar nominee.

ALMOST EGOTS

While there are are a number of artists who came close to EGOT'ing during their lifetimes—including Robin Williams (who was short a Tony), Jessica Tandy (she was missing a Grammy), Henry Fonda (who was minus an Emmy), and Leonard Bernstein (who never won an Oscar)—the EGOT dream is still alive for dozens of artists.

1. JOHN LEGEND

If John Legend wins an Emmy this year, he'll become the 13th official member of the EGOT winners' circle.

2. JULIE ANDREWS

It's hard to believe that Julie Andrews has yet to win a Tony Award (though she's been nominated for three). If and when she does, she can add EGOT to her resume.

3. AND 4. ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER AND TIM RICE

Like Legend, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice are just an Emmy short of an EGOT—which could change this year.

5. LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA

The Hamilton creator came so close to EGOT'ing last year. But something tells us it won't be long before he's inducted into this elite group of artists.

6. MARTIN SCORSESE

He may be one of the world's most acclaimed filmmakers, but it took him more than a quarter-century to earn his first (and so far only) Oscar. Hopefully a Tony will be next.

7. FRANCES MCDORMAND

Just below the EGOT, there's what is known as the Triple Crown of Acting: a performer who has won an Oscar, Emmy, and a Tony (but is missing a Grammy). Frances McDormand is among that group.

8. VIOLA DAVIS

Like McDormand, Viola Davis is part of the Triple Crown club.

9. RANDY NEWMAN

It took 20 years and 16 nominations, but Randy Newman finally became an Oscar winner in 2002 when he won the award for Best Original Song for "If I Didn't Have You" from Monsters, Inc. He still needs a Tony though.

10. AL PACINO

He's one of the most celebrated actors alive, but Al Pacino is no Grammy winner.

11. JOHN WILLIAMS

The iconic composer may hold the record for the most Oscar nominations for a living person, but John Williams has yet to receive a single Tony Award nomination.

12. CHER

The iconic singer is one Tony Award short of an EGOT.

13. ELTON JOHN

The "Rocket Man" singer is one Emmy Award away from an EGOT.

14. MAGGIE SMITH

Dame Maggie Smith may not have a Grammy Award, but she's a Triple Crown-winning actor who has earned the right to be addressed as "Dame."

15. COMMON

Rapper/poet/singer/producer Common only needs a Tony Award to complete his EGOT.

16. AND 17. RON HOWARD AND BRIAN GRAZER

Longtime producing partners Ron Howard and Brian Grazer have seemingly conquered every medium, but neither one has yet to win a Tony (though Grazer has come closer; he was nominated in 2008).

18. AND 19. TREY PARKER AND MATT STONE

The South Park creators are just an Oscar short of the EGOT goalpost.

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