Golden Globes’ 75th anniversary book offers Hollywood history, colorful trivia
LOS ANGELES—As part of a year-round 75th anniversary celebration of both the Golden Globe Awards and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), which votes on and presents the awards, a commemorative book recently came out.
Titled “Hollywood Foreign Press Association: A History (75 Years of the Golden Globe Awards),” the book is a collection of stories and photos about the association of international journalists and its annual awards show honoring excellence in film and television.
I had the honor working on the book with Tim Gray, Variety’s awards editor and senior vice president. The veteran Hollywood journalist, who served as the book’s editor, is not your stereotypical curmudgeonly newsman. In fact, he’s genial, open to ideas and accommodating. His wit and razor-sharp humor came out in the hundreds of e-mails that we exchanged.
Starting as early as March last year, we began meeting, assigning and gathering the stories written by me and my fellow HFPA members.
Tim wrote the main piece, a comprehensive, decade-by-decade look at the HFPA and the Golden Globes, beginning in the early 1940s, when 23 journalists founded the Hollywood Foreign Correspondents Association, the forerunner of HFPA.
He traced the humble beginnings of the Globes in its early years, including starting as a no-frills luncheon at the Fox backlot. Even when the event was moved to the Beverly Hills Hotel, the organization had to decorate the room with flowers from actress Joan Bennett’s garden “since one member knew her gardener.” The radio and television coverage came years later.
In his chapter on the 1950s, Tim noted how the Rat Pack changed the Golden Globes forever. He wrote, “As the first Globes event to merit a presentation to the TV audience, the show received a jolt of adrenaline when the ceremony was jokingly highjacked by the Rat Pack. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. jumped up onstage with cigarettes and cocktails in hand.
“They were joined by comic-actor Red Buttons to change the tone of the evening, making it looser and zanier with their spontaneity and wisecracks. The seed was planted: The Golden Globes were more fun and funnier than other awards shows.”
The chapters evoke the mood, issues and times of the various eras, in effect also reflecting Hollywood as it evolved into what it is today. But Tim also included colorful trivia, including the night in 1999 when Angelina Jolie was so overjoyed with her best actress-TV movie win for “Gia” that she jumped, gown and all, into the Beverly Hilton pool.
From those spartan origins, the Globes have become a much-anticipated annual event seen in over 230 countries. The HFPA itself has grown, with members representing 56 countries, with a combined readership of 250 million in some of the world’s most respected publications, including this paper, the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Kirk Douglas graciously agreed to pen a letter, a fitting one since he started his career around the same time the founding members were forming the association.
The actor began his note this way: “When I was asked to write something for the Golden Globes and HFPA’s 75th anniversary, I was told I could also celebrate another anniversary: It’s been 50 years since I was given the Cecil B. DeMille Award for my “contributions to the world of entertainment.”
“… I’m now 101. When I made ‘The Strange Loves of Martha Ivers,’ my very first movie in 1946, the awards were only 3 years old. One thing I learned early on about the Hollywood Foreign Press Association: this group knows how to throw a great party.”
Not only does HFPA host what is considered Hollywood’s party of the year. It has also become a major philanthropic institution. The nonprofit organization has donated more than $30 million in grants and scholarships.
Meher Tatna, HFPA’s current president (she’s also the book’s executive editor), penned in the book’s other open letter: “Back in 1943, amid all the travails of World War II, when the 23 founder members were grappling with discrimination and censorship, struggling to file their stories and get paid, no one gave a thought to the group’s longevity.
“Seventy-five years later, we now look back and see the strides we’ve made. We’ve honored the industry’s legacy by helping fund the restoration of more than 90 cinema classics. We’ve empowered the next generation of storytellers … We’ve given a helping hand to various organizations in the arts—59 in all.”
Lorenzo Soria, a former president, contributed a piece on the association’s dedication to help: “The HFPA has grown into a major philanthropic contributor in Hollywood, helping many worthy causes.”
Other members who contributed stories include Ana Maria Bahiana, Philip Berk, Elmar Biebl, Nellee Holmes, Elisa Leonelli, Janet R. Nepales, Elisabeth Sereda, Lorenzo Soria, Aida Takla-O’Reilly and Kirpi Uimonen Ballesteros. These pieces, ranging from the red-carpet standouts to memorable onstage quotes, are snapshots of Tinseltown, in a sense.
Member Vera Anderson and Jason Little, from the HFPA office staff, had the challenging task of going through hundreds of photos and picking which ones will be included in the book.
My favorite images in the book include those of Alfred Hitchcock and Rosalind Russell in 1972; Gary Cooper and HFCA member Kira Appel, 1948; Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole, 1978; Audrey Hepburn, 1990; Pedro Almodovar kissing his Golden Globe trophy, 2003; Jennifer Lopez literally stopping the red-carpet traffic, 2016; Katy Perry biting into a hamburger as she pretended to look enviously at Brie Larson’s best actress trophy, 2016; and Prince, seated, touching his Globes trophy while breaking into the most enigmatic Mona Lisa smile.
Of the three pieces I contributed, I had the most fun writing about the daunting task of who gets to sit where, inside the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel, where the Globes have been held for 57 years.
Just imagine. Each January, the Globes is the hottest ticket which, by the way, is by invitation only. Only 1,371 guests can be accommodated inside the ballroom on Hollywood’s party of the year.
It’s why I wrote in my piece: “The job to decide who gets to sit inside requires the skills of a diplomat, war strategist, Zen master and someone who keeps abreast with the Hollywood merry-go-round …
“The team also becomes privy to feuds among stars. For instance, two costars in a TV show would specifically request that they did not want to be seated in the same table.”
In my interview with Andy Sale, lead partner of Ernst & Young (EY) LLP, which has been overseeing the voting process for the Golden Globes for 45 years, he shared interesting details for my piece on the story behind those “And the Golden Globe goes to…” envelopes.
I wrote, “Sale has been working on tabulating and safeguarding the ballots for 18 years now … Though it’s still possible for winners to tie, the odds are much less likely than they were a decade ago. To avoid ties—there were three best actress-drama winners in 1989 (Jodie Foster, Shirley MacLaine and Sigourney Weaver), for example—the HFPA and EY introduced a tie-breaking procedure approximately 10 years ago.”
My last piece, which coincidentally is the book’s final story, focused on Meryl Streep’s unforgettable Cecil B. DeMille Award acceptance speech. I thought that would be a tough act to follow but, as everyone knows by now, Oprah Winfrey also delivered phenomenal remarks as this year’s recipient of the Globes’ highest honor.
Fittingly, copies of the book were given to the guests of the 75th Golden Globe Awards.
(Editor’s Note: The columnist served as the book’s managing editor. He is a member of HFPA.)
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