The Triple Crown

Only 22 ac­tors have won Os­cars, Tonys and Em­mys. Is Vi­ola Davis next?


If Vi­ola Davis wins an Academy Award on Sun­day, as she’s fa­vored to do, she will be the 23rd per­son to achieve the triple crown of act­ing: a com­pet­i­tive Os­car, Emmy and Tony (two Tonys, in her case). She will be the first African Amer­i­can to join the club.

Re­ceiv­ing an award is a fickle honor — a func­tion of tim­ing, cam­paign­ing and mo­men­tum as much as tal­ent — but win­ning the triple crown is a mean­ing­ful Hol­ly­wood achieve­ment. It re­quires both range and longevity. Club mem­bers are all deeply re­spected in their field; there’s not a stow­away in the bunch. Act­ing’s triple crown is a rare dis­tinc­tion. Not even Davis’s idol, Meryl Streep, has achieved it.

There are in­deed more than 22 ac­tors who’ve re­ceived all three awards, but they did so for rea­sons other than just act­ing — or the awards were non-com­pet­i­tive in na­ture, such as an hon­orary Os­car. For ex­am­ple, John Giel­gud and Whoopi Gold­berg re­ceived all three, but his Tony came for di­rect­ing a play and hers came for pro­duc­ing a mu­si­cal. Au­drey Hep­burn, with an Os­car and Tony on her man­tel, re­ceived an Emmy in 1993 for a TV spe­cial about gar­dens, but she wasn’t play­ing a role. Liza Min­nelli’s Emmy for “Liza With a Z,” in which she starred, was — alas — for a non-act­ing cat­e­gory.

Much is made of the “EGOT,” which adds a Grammy Award to the mix, but that’s a dis­tinc­tion that doesn’t solely honor act­ing. In fact, there’s just one per­son who’s com­pet­i­tively achieved an EGOT en­tirely through per­for­mance (we don’t count the “spo­ken word” Grammy cat­e­gory as act­ing). That per­son is No. 8 on this list of triple-crown­ers, pre­sented here in re­verse chronol­ogy from when they joined the club.

22. Jes­sica Lange is the most re­cent joiner, courtesy of one of the great stage roles: Mary Ty­rone, the drug-ad­dled ma­tri­arch of Eu­gene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Jour­ney Into Night,” which closed on Broad­way last June. 2 Os­cars: “Toot­sie” (1983), “Blue Sky” (1995) 3 Em­mys: “Grey Gar­dens” (2009), “Amer­i­can Hor­ror Story” (2012, 2014) 1 Tony: “Long Day’s Jour­ney Into Night” (2016)

21. Frances McDor­mand is a quin­tes­sen­tial triple-crowner — lack­ing phys­i­cal van­ity, trained as a clas­sic the­ater actor and ver­sa­tile over a long pe­riod of time. “I have done both Stella and Blanche in ‘Street­car,’ ” she said, hold­ing her Tony, wear­ing a jean jacket, “and I’ve played all three of Chekhov’s sis­ters.” 1 Os­car: “Fargo” (1997) 1 Tony: “Good Peo­ple” (2011)

1 Emmy: “Olive Kit­teridge” (2015)

20. He­len Mir­ren, who didn’t start her awards streak un­til she turned 50, can thank Bri­tish roy­alty for her triple crown. She has one of each award for play­ing El­iz­a­beth I or El­iz­a­beth II. 4 Em­mys: “The Pas­sion of Ayn Rand” (1999), “El­iz­a­beth I” (2006), the “Prime Sus­pect” fran­chise (1996 and 2007) 1 Os­car: “The Queen” (2007) 1 Tony: “The Au­di­ence” (2015)

19. Christopher Plum­mer, Capt. Von Trapp him­self, fi­nally worked his way to an Os­car at age 82 (mak­ing him the old­est act­ing win­ner). “You’re only two years older than me, dar­ling,” he said to his Os­car. “Where have you been all my life?” 2 Tonys: “Cyrano” (1974), “Bar­ry­more” (1997)

2 Em­mys: “Arthur Hai­ley’s the Mon­ey­chang­ers” (1977) and for his voice-over work in the an­i­mated se­ries “Made­line” (1994). 1 Os­car: “Be­gin­ners” (2012)

18. Ellen Burstyn, al­ready a house­hold name be­cause of “The Ex­or­cist,” had quite a year in 1975. In the span of 12 days, she won an Os­car and a Tony. She skipped the for­mer’s cer­e­mony be­cause she was per­form­ing in the play that won her the lat­ter. 1 Os­car: “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Any­more” (1975) 1 Tony: “Same Time, Next Year” (1975)

2 Em­mys: “Law & Or­der: Spe­cial Vic­tims Unit” (2009), “Po­lit­i­cal An­i­mals” (2013)

17. Ge­of­frey Rush, the only Australian mem­ber of the club, com­pleted the first two legs of the triple crown by play­ing real-life mis­fits: pi­ano prodigy David Helf­gott and Bri­tish comic actor Peter Sell­ers. 1 Os­car: “Shine” (1997) 1 Emmy: “The Life and Death of Peter Sell­ers” (2005) 1 Tony: “Exit the King” (2009)

16. Al Pa­cino ac­cepted his first Tony at age 28. He would have to wait over 20 years, through eight Os­car nom­i­na­tions, be­fore com­plet­ing the sec­ond leg. When he fi­nally won, triple-crowner Vanessa Red­grave — sit­ting be­hind him — throt­tled his shoul­ders with ex­cite­ment.

2 Tonys: “Does a Tiger Wear a Neck­tie?” (1969), “The Ba­sic Train­ing of Pavlo Hum­mel” (1977) 1 Os­car: “Scent of a Woman” (1993)

2 Em­mys: “Angels in Amer­ica” (2003), “You Don’t Know Jack” (2010)

15. Mag­gie Smith has a habit of not at­tend­ing the Em­mys. “If we call your name and you’re not here to ac­cept,” Jimmy Kim­mel said at last year’s show, “the Emmy goes to the next name on the list. It’s called the Mag­gie Smith Rule.” She won. “We’re not mail­ing this to her,” he said.

2 Os­cars: “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” (1970), “Cal­i­for­nia Suite” (1979) 1 Tony: “Let­tice and Lo­vage” (1990)

4 Em­mys: “My House in Um­bria” (2003), “Down­ton Abbey” (2011, 2012, 2016)

14. Vanessa Red­grave was heck­led dur­ing her Os­car speech for re­fer­ring to “Zion­ist hood­lums” ril­ing the Mid­dle East, but by the end of the speech the au­di­ence was mostly ap­plaud­ing. Like Lange, she got her Tony for play­ing Mary Ty­rone. 1 Os­car: “Ju­lia” (1978)

2 Em­mys: “Play­ing for Time” (1981), “If These Walls Could Talk 2” (2000)

1 Tony: “Long Day’s Jour­ney Into Night” (2003)

13. Anne Ban­croft, up against Bette Davis for the Os­car in 1963, didn’t at­tend the cer­e­mony. Joan Craw­ford, Davis’s ri­val and un-nom­i­nated co-star in “What­ever Hap­pened to Baby Jane?,” had of­fered all the non-Davis nom­i­nees who wouldn’t be there that she’d go up to ac­cept the Os­car on their be­half. Craw­ford fol­lowed Ban­croft’s writ­ten in­struc­tions, which were iden­ti­cal to her Tony speech for the same role, as An­nie Sul­li­van. She sim­ply thanked her di­rec­tor, writer and pro­ducer.

2 Tonys: “Two for the See­saw” (1958), “The Miracle Worker” (1960) 1 Os­car: “The Miracle Worker” (1963) 1 Emmy: “Deep in My Heart” (1999)

12. Jeremy Irons, af­ter beginning his ca­reer in the West End, won a Tony for his Broad­way de­but and, seven years later, ac­cepted an Os­car from Jes­sica Tandy, who had just at­tained the triple crown her­self. 1 Tony: “The Real Thing” (1984) 1 Os­car: “Re­ver­sal of For­tune” (1991)

3 Em­mys: “El­iz­a­beth I” (2006) and two for voice-over work: “Big Cat Week” (2014), “The Great War and the Shap­ing of the 20th Cen­tury” (1997)

11. Jes­sica Tandy took the longest to com­plete her triple crown. There were 42 years be­tween her first Tony, for orig­i­nat­ing the role of Blanche DuBois in “A Street­car Named De­sire,” and her first Os­car, for bring­ing the tit­u­lar stage char­ac­ter in “Driv­ing Miss Daisy” to the screen.

3 Tonys: “A Street­car Named De­sire” (1948), “The Gin Game” (1978), “Fox­fire” (1983) 1 Emmy: “Fox­fire” (1988) 1 Os­car: “Driv­ing Miss Daisy” (1990)

10. Ja­son Ro­bards racked up 16 nom­i­na­tions across the triple-crown board and is one of only five ac­tors to win con­sec­u­tive Os­cars for act­ing (the oth­ers are Tom Hanks, Katharine Hep­burn, Luise Rainer and Spencer Tracy). 1 Tony: “The Dis­en­chanted” (1959) 2 Os­cars: “All the Pres­i­dent’s Men” (1977), “Ju­lia” (1978) 1 Emmy: “In­herit the Wind” (1988)

9. Mau­reen Sta­ple­ton wore her Os­car dress the fol­low­ing night on “The Tonight Show,” ex­plain­ing that she was re­peat­ing the out­fit be­cause “it cost a lot of money.” She then ad­mit­ted to Johnny Car­son that she hadn’t even seen the movie for which she’d won.

2 Tonys: “The Rose Tat­too” (1951), “The Gin­ger­bread Lady” (1971) 1 Emmy: “Among the Paths to Eden” (1968) 1 Os­car: “Reds” (1982)

8. Rita Moreno not only at­tained the triple crown of act­ing — she has a com­pet­i­tive Grammy as well. Moreno also gave one of the best (and short­est) Os­car ac­cep­tance speeches: “I can’t be­lieve it! Good Lord. I leave you with that.” 1 Os­car: “West Side Story” (1962) 1 Tony: “The Ritz” (1975) 2 Em­mys: “The Mup­pet Show” (1977), “The Rock­ford Files” (1978)

7. Jack Al­bert­son, a for­mer pool shark and vaudevil­lian, would gain im­mor­tal­ity by play­ing Grandpa Joe in “Willy Wonka and the Choco­late Fac­tory” in 1971, but first he par­layed a part writ­ten by play­wright Frank Gil­roy through the first two legs of the triple crown. 1 Tony: “The Sub­ject Was Roses” (1965) 1 Os­car: “The Sub­ject Was Roses” (1969) 2 Em­mys: “Cher” (1975), “Chico and the Man” (1976)

6. Paul Scofield, a Bri­tish actor known for his in­ter­pre­ta­tions of Shake­speare, achieved the triple crown in the short­est span of time of any­one in the club: seven years. Two of the awards came for play­ing Sir Thomas More in the stage and film ver­sions of Robert Bolt’s “A Man for All Sea­sons.” 1 Tony: “A Man for All Sea­sons” (1962) 1 Os­car: “A Man for All Sea­sons” (1967) 1 Emmy: “Male of the Species” (1969)

5. Melvyn Dou­glas made a name for him­self 20 years be­fore he started win­ning awards, op­po­site Greta Garbo in the clas­sic “Ninotchka.” He ac­cepted only his Tony Award, for best lead actor in a play, in per­son. 1 Tony: “The Best Man” (1960) 2 Os­cars: “Hud” (1964) and “Be­ing There” (1980) 1 Emmy: “CBS Play­house” (1968)

4. Shirley Booth, like Marisa Tomei and Jen­nifer Lawrence decades later, tripped on the stairs when ac­cept­ing her Os­car, dur­ing the first tele­vised Academy Awards. “I guess this is the peak,” she said from the stage, though her star­ring role in the NBC sit­com “Hazel” would come within a decade.

3 Tonys: “Good­bye, My Fancy” (1949), “Come Back, Lit­tle Sheba” (1950), “The Time of the Cuckoo” (1953) 1 Os­car: “Come Back, Lit­tle Sheba” (1953)

2 Em­mys: “Hazel” (1962, 1963)

3. In­grid Bergman ut­tered one of the best hum­ble­brags in the his­tory of the Academy Awards when she nabbed her third stat­uette: “It’s al­ways very nice to get an Os­car.” She then con­ceded that the award really be­longed to Ital­ian ac­tress Valentina Cortese, nom­i­nated for “Day for Night.”

3 Os­cars: “Gaslight” (1945), “Anas­ta­sia” (1957), “Mur­der on the Ori­ent Ex­press” (1975) 1 Tony: “Joan of Lor­raine” (1947)

2 Em­mys: “Star­time” (1960), “A Woman Called Golda” (1982)

2. Thomas Mitchell had a ster­ling year in 1939: Scar­lett O’Hara’s fa­ther in “Gone With the Wind,” a reporter in “Mr. Smith Goes to Wash­ing­ton” and the comic re­lief in “Stage­coach,” which be­gan his triple-crown run. Mitchell won his best-actor Emmy back when the prize wasn’t tied to one show. In the year prior, he ap­peared in mul­ti­ple se­ries, in­clud­ing “Sus­pense” and “The Gulf Play­house.” 1 Os­car: “Stage­coach” (1940) 1 Emmy: 1953 1 Tony: “Hazel Flagg” (1953)

1. He­len Hayes, the D.C.-born first lady of the Amer­i­can the­ater, won her Emmy in the same year and man­ner as Mitchell did. In the three years prior, Hayes mostly played roy­alty, such as Queen Victoria in “Robert Mont­gomery Presents” and Mary Stu­art in “Pulitzer Prize Play­house.”

2 Os­cars: “The Sin of Madame Claudet” (1932), “Air­port” (1971) 2 Tonys: “Happy Birthday” (1947), “Time Re­mem­bered” (1958) 1 Emmy: 1953






















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