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Elton John wins an EGOT: Who else is in the elite awards club?

Elton John performing at Glastonbury 2023 (Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Elton John performing at Glastonbury 2023 (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

In 1984, Philip Michael Thomas was on top of the world. At the age of 35, the Ohio-born actor had landed a leading role as Detective Ricardo Tubbs in Miami Vice, the Michael Mann-produced cop show that was revolutionising television. Thomas, though, set his sights even higher. In an interview with the Associated Press, he announced his intention to win an EGOT. “That stands for Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony,” he said, unpacking the acronym he’d just coined. “Hopefully in the next five years, I will win all those awards.”

Thomas was so serious about his dream that he had the four letters “EGOT” engraved on a gold pendant he wore around his neck. Sadly, that was as far as he got. Not only did Thomas not win any of the four awards prior to his retirement in 2006, he was never even nominated. His ambitious dream might have been forgotten completely were it not for 30 Rock. In a 2009 episode of Tina Fey’s Saturday Night Live-inspired sitcom, Tracy Morgan’s character Tracy Jordan came across a diamond-encrusted EGOT medallion that had ostensibly belonged to Thomas. The discovery inspired Jordan to set off on his own quest to win all four of the highest honours in American show business – and brought the EGOT back into popular consciousness.

This week, Elton John became just the nineteenth person in history to reach that elite EGOT status when he triumphed at the Emmys. Here’s a look at who else is in the rarefied club.

1. Richard Rodgers

The first person ever to win an EGOT was composer Richard Rodgers, who completed his four-piece awards set in 1962, when he won an Emmy for the incidental music in a documentary about William Churchill. He’d started his collection back in 1945 with an Oscar for Best Song (“It Might as Well Be Spring” from State Fair). In between he won two Grammys (The Sound of Music and No Strings) and no less than six Tonys (for South Pacific, The King and I, The Sound of Music and No Strings).

2. Helen Hayes

Helen Hayes was the first woman to win an EGOT. She started her collection in 1932 with a Best Actress Oscar for The Sin of Madelon Claudet. In 1947 she added a Best Actress Tony for Happy Birthday and in 1953 added a Best Actress Emmy for an episode of Schlitz Playhouse of Stars. In 1977, 45 years after her first Oscar win, she won a Grammy for spoken-word contributions to Great American Documents, alongside Orson Welles and James Earl Jones.

Rita Moreno  with ‘West Side Story’ co-star George Chakiris at the Oscars in 1962 (Getty Images)
Rita Moreno with ‘West Side Story’ co-star George Chakiris at the Oscars in 1962 (Getty Images)

3. Rita Moreno

Moreno hit the road to an EGOT in 1962 when she won an Oscar for her famous role Anita in West Side Story. In 1972 she added a Grammy, for children’s recording The Electric Company, and in 1975 won a Tony for The Ritz. Just two years later she was the proud winner of all four awards thanks to an Emmy for her appearance on The Muppet Show.

4. John Gielgud

The British acting legend became the first non-American to win an EGOT in 1991 when he picked up an Emmy at the age of 87 for his leading role in Summer’s Lease. He’d won the first of his two Tonys back in 1948, for The Importance of Being Earnest, and a Grammy in 1979 for his one-man Shakespeare show Ages of Man. His Oscar win came in 1981, for his supporting role in the Dudley Moore comedy Arthur.

Audrey Hepburn with her Oscar. (Getty)
Audrey Hepburn with her Oscar. (Getty)

5 Audrey Hepburn

Tragically, Hepburn didn’t live to see herself ascend to EGOT status. At the time of her death in 1993 she was the proud winner of an Oscar, for 1953’s Roman Holiday, and a Tony, for 1954’s Ondine. Posthumously she won an Emmy for her 1993 documentary series Gardens of the World with Audrey Hepburn and a Grammy for her album of children’s stories Audrey Hepburn’s Enchanted Tales.

6. Marvin Hamlisch

Composer Marvin Hamlisch won no less than three Oscars in 1973, one for The Sting and two for The Way We Were, with Barbra Streisand singing the famous title song. That same song and score won Hamlisch a couple of Grammys the following year, and he picked up a Tony in 1976 for A Chorus Line. He completed his EGOT in 1995, fittingly enough winning an Emmy for his work on Streisand’s Barbra: The Concert. (Streisand herself is not considered an EGOT winner despite having an Emmy, Oscar and Grammy as her Tony was given as a non-competitive special award).

7. Jonathan Tunick

The composer and orchestrator Jonathan Tunick won an Oscar in 1977 for scoring A Little Night Music, and five years later added an Emmy for his musical direction of the television special Night of 100 Stars. He won a Grammy in 1988 for arranging Cleo Laine’s version of Stephen Sondheim’s “No One is Alone” and completed his EGOT in 1997 when he won a Tony for orchestrating the Titanic musical.

Mel Brooks with one of the 12 Tonys won by 'The Producers’ in 2001 (AFP via Getty Images)
Mel Brooks with one of the 12 Tonys won by 'The Producers’ in 2001 (AFP via Getty Images)

8. Mel Brooks

The comedy icon won his first Emmy in 1967 for writing on The Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, Howard Morris Special and followed that triumph a year later by winning an Oscar for writing The Producers. Thirty years later he added a Grammy to his trophy cabinet thanks to comedy album The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000, also with Carl Reiner, and in 2001 completed his EGOT by winning no less than three Tonys for his Broadway adaptation of The Producers.

9. Mike Nichols

While today he’s perhaps best remembered for his directing work, Nichols won a Grammy as a performer in 1961 for comedy album An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May. In 1964 he won the first of his nine Tonys for directing Barefoot in the Park, and three years later added an Oscar for directing Dustin Hoffman classic The Graduate. He completed his EGOT in 2001 by winning a pair of Emmys directing Emma Thompson in Wit.

Whoopi and Oscar (Getty Images)
Whoopi and Oscar (Getty Images)

10. Whoopi Goldberg

The first Black EGOT winner, Goldberg won a Grammy in 1986 for her self-titled comedy album and an Oscar in 1990 for her role in Ghost. In 2002 she won both an Emmy, for hosting the documentary Beyond Tara: The Extraordinary Life of Hattie McDaniel, and a Tony, for producing Thoroughly Modern Millie on Broadway. She has said she wasn’t aware of the EGOT acronym until she appeared on 30 Rock to offer Tracy Jordan advice on how to win his. Asked if Daytime Emmys count, she replied: “It still counts. Girl’s gotta eat!”

11. Scott Rudin

Producer Scott Rudin has won a remarkable 18 Tonys, his first in 1994 for his work on Stephen Sondheim’s Passion. He’s also won one each of the other three awards needed for an EGOT: An Emmy in 1984 for children’s ballet documentary He Makes Me Feel Like Dancin’, an Oscar in 2007 for No Country for Old Men and a Grammy in 2012 for The Book of Mormon.

12. Robert Lopez

Songwriter Robert Lopez has the distinction of being the only person in history to pull off the Double EGOT. He has won each award at least twice, including Tonys for Avenue Q (2004) and The Book of Mormon (2011), Emmys for Wonder Pets! (2008) and WandaVision (2021), Grammys for The Book of Mormon (2012) and Frozen (2015) and Oscars for Frozen (2013) and Coco (2017). In case all that didn’t make you feel lazy enough Lopez is also the youngest EGOT winner in history, having collected all four awards by the age of 39.

13. Andrew Lloyd Webber

The musical impresario hit the EGOT trail in 1980 with Grammy and Tony wins for Evita. He won an Oscar in 1996 for “You Must Love Me”, from the Madonna-starring film version of the same musical, before taking home an Emmy for his 2018 television special Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert.

14. Tim Rice

The lyricist is a longstanding collaborator with Andrew Lloyd Webber, and the pair have shared many of their awards. He also got started with Grammy and Tony wins for Evita in 1980 and completed his EGOT with Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert in 2018. However, Rice actually has a couple more Oscars than Lloyd Webber, having written the lyrics to Disney classics “A Whole New World” and “Can You Feel The Love Tonight”.

John Legend and his Grammys (Getty Images The Recording Acade)
John Legend and his Grammys (Getty Images The Recording Acade)

15. John Legend

The musician is a Grammy favourite, with 12 wins starting with Best New Artist back in 2006. In 2014 he won an Oscar for his song “Glory”, from the film Selma, then a Tony in 2017 for reviving the August Wilson play Jitney. He won his first Emmy in 2018 for his part in Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert, a win which made Legend, Lloyd Webber and Rice EGOT winners simultaneously.

16. Alan Menken

Longtime Disney composer Menken has won eight Oscars, his first two arriving in 1989 for his work on The Little Mermaid. That same soundtrack triumphed at the Grammys in 1991, and he won a Tony in 2012 for the musical Newsies. He completed his EGOT in 2020 when he won the Emmy for Best Original Song for “Waiting in the Wings” from Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure.

17. Jennifer Hudson

Hudson, an American Idol finalist in 2004, started her awards journey in 2006 when she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for Dreamgirls. She won her first Grammy for her self-titled debut R&B album in 2009 and an Emmy in 2021 for her work on VR fairytale Baba Yaga. She completed her collection with a Tony win for her work as a producer on Michael R Jackson’s musical A Strange Loop.

18. Viola Davis

The actor started her career on stage, and has a pair of Tonys to her name. She won her first in 2001 for Best Featured Actress in King Hedley II, then won Best Leading Actress in 2010 for her performance in August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Fences. She reprised her role as Rose Maxson in the film version of Fences, which won her an Oscar in 2017. By then she’d already added an Emmy to her collection, winning for How to Get Away with Murder in 2015. She completed the set in 2023 after winning Best Audio Book for her memoir Finding Me. “I wrote this book to honor the 6-year-old Viola — to honor her life, her joy, her trauma, her everything,” Davis said in her acceptance speech. “And it has been such a journey. I just EGOT!”

19. Elton John

The latest addition to the exclusive EGOT Hall of Fame, Sir Elton John will have to find space in an already crowded trophy cabinet. He has five Grammys, winning his first in 1987 for his contribution to Dionne Warwick’s AIDS charity single “That’s What Friends Are For”. In 1992, he won Best Instrumental for “Basque”, then in 1995 and 1998 he won Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” and “Candle in the Wind ‘97” respectively. In 2000 he won Best Original Score at the Tonys for Aida, which also won him another Grammy the following year. He has a pair of Oscars, receiving the first for “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” from The Lion King and a second for “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from his own biopic, Rocketman. He completed his well-deserved EGOT at this year’s Emmys when he won Outstanding Variety Special for the live broadcast of Elton John: Farewell from Dodger Stadium.