LOS ANGELES—In the weeks leading to the 70th Golden Globe Awards held last Jan. 13, stars—from Billy Crystal, Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Hobbit’s” Ian McKellen to Sylvester Stallone—shared their most memorable moments at Hollywood’s party of the year.
We think Billy Crystal’s humorous anecdote about sitting beside the late Jack Palance is the best of them all—but, you be the judge:
This was a really funny story. Jack Palance was sitting next to me at our table. He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor and I was up for Best Actor-Comedy or Musical (both for “City Slickers” in 1992). Jack won. We were thrilled, because we felt that this was his time. He was great in the movie, and it was a big success. Jack got up and said a few words. Then, he came back to the table, instead of going to the press room.
So, Miss Golden Globe tried to lead him away. He was going, “No.” I said, “Jack, they want you to go to the press room.” He went, “I don’t care. You’re nominated. I’m sitting here with you. When you win, we’ll both go to the press room.” (Billy was impressed with Jack’s gesture.)
So, my category came up. I lost to Robin Williams. As soon as they said Robin’s name, Jack stood up. I said, “Where are you going?” Jack said, “You lost. I am going to the press room!”
I knew I hadn’t won, because I was sitting at a table as far away from the stage as it was possible—it was near the lavatories! I was having a nice evening. When we were in the middle of eating, suddenly, the ceremony started. The waiters stopped coming round, because they would have made a noise. We were left with a table full of food that was beginning to get disgustingly congealed on the plate.
Suddenly, I heard my name called, and I had won (Best Actor in a Supporting Role-Television—for “Rasputin” in 1997), so I weaved my way to the stage. Of course, the applause stopped long before I got to the stage. I heard myself saying on television, “I’m very glad to have won this, because it gives me an opportunity to say, ‘Will the waiter please clear our table?’”
Arnold Schwarzenegger and I were at the same table. I didn’t know who he was then. “Who’s this big guy?” He was staring at me, and I was sitting there. “Rocky” was up for Best Picture (1977). I said, “What’s he doing here?” I thought he was a doorman. Someone told me that he was a Mr. Olympia. So, I thought maybe I better shut up or he’d snap off my head.
Anyway, he won. All of a sudden, he got the Best Newcomer award, this Arnold Schwarzenegger. I went, “Hello.” He said, “Thank you very much.” So, I was starting to get jealous. “Rocky” was up for several Golden Globes—and we were losing! I said, “Oh man, this is getting ugly!” Then, I lost for Best Actor. And Arnold was sitting there, having a good time.
Then, finally, someone said, “Best Picture…‘Rocky!’” I stood up, took the flowers from the center of the table, and dumped them on him. In the next 15 years, that was the kind of relationship we had!
I remember the first one that I went to, which was 15 years ago. Ben (Affleck) and I won the Screenplay award (for “Good Will Hunting” in 1998)—and at the Oscars, we also got it. Everything about our lives completely changed in surreal ways.
I have vivid memories of that night at the Globes. Despite all the events that I’ve gone to since then, that night is etched into my mind, because that was one of the first huge events that I had ever been to. I wasn’t just going to sit in the background—I was going to really participate! It was a benchmark moment in my life.
I have wonderful memories of that night. When we came off the stage, Alec Baldwin collared us. He literally grabbed both of us and said, “Don’t take this for granted! Don’t piss this away. You are in a place that almost nobody gets to.” He said it with such passion. We were just surprised that Alec knew who we were. That was also the night that Ving Rhames gave his award to Jack Lemmon. It was a very special night!
For me, the great thing about the Golden Globes is to not sit facing forward and having to be in an automated environment, but to be sociable, to see your friends again, laugh, have a few drinks, go up and down, share a hug, and share a smile with somebody without having to run back to your seat and feel like you’re going to mess up the whole program.
The Golden Globes is a much more relaxed environment. I feel like everyone is there to have a better time in celebration of the arts that they have worked so hard to achieve. It’s a shared experience. It’s much more communal. (Leonardo DiCaprio won the Golden Globe Best Actor-Drama for “The Aviator” in 2005.)
During the time of “Ray” (for which he won Best Actor-Comedy or Musical in 2005), all I did was go around with my cell phone and get people’s contact numbers. I got Warren Beatty, Clint Eastwood and Charlize Theron’s numbers. I didn’t call or bug them. But, I was like, “I got these people’s numbers!”
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