In its storied 86 year history, the Academy Awards have been hosted by some of the finest comedians, actors, and even musicians of the day. From Douglas Fairbanks (hosting the first Oscars during the silent film era) to Ellen Degeneres (this year’s host) over the years there have been some brilliant emcees… and some absolute stinkers (*cough* David Letterman *cough*). While Ellen nailed it last night and had us laughing through the show – checking twitter for her celebrity photos and and staying up far too late – we picked our 5 favourite Oscar hosts of all time…
A legend in his own time, Bob Hope’s name may not be recognizable to a younger crowd, but this master showman and emcee hosted or co-hosted the Academy Awards a record 19 times between 1940 and 1978. Perhaps best known for his USO shows, where he carried a golf club onstage, Hope was an expert at vaudevillian one-liners. He never won an acting Oscar himself, once quipping, “Tonight we celebrate Oscar, or as he’s known at my house, the fugitive.” He was however given five honorary Academy Awards over the years to recognize his humanitarian efforts and contribution to motion picture arts.
Best Oscar quote: “Tonight we set aside petty differences, forget old feuds, and start new ones.”
Here’s Johnny! Picking up where Bob Hope left off, Johnny Carson got the gig for four years straight between 1979 and 1982, and then a for a fifth time in 1984. For the same reasons that he was a beloved talk show host on The Tonight Show, he was a favourite to host the Academy Awards. He managed to mercilessly make fun of the celebrities in the crowd, but still keep them laughing – a rare trait for a host.
Best Oscar quote: “I see a lot of new faces, especially on the old faces.”
Another mainstay of the Oscar stage, Billy Crystal has hosted 9 times since 1990, most recently in 2012. Perhaps his most memorable moment was during the 64th Oscars in 1992 where Silence of the Lambs won best picture. Crystal was wheeled out onto the stage wearing a tuxedo and a Hannibal Lecter mask, and said, “I’m having a few of the Academy for dinner tonight.” Then, 1998’s opening monologue was also a classic, with Crystal taking to the stage atop the bow of a sinking ship. Titanic would go on to win best picture that year.
Best Oscar quote: “Matt Damon is so young, the results in his category were tabulated by Fisher-Price Waterhouse.”
In addition to being one of only eleven people to have won an Oscar, Grammy, Emmy, and Tony Award, Goldberg has also hosted the Academy Awards four times. The beloved actress and entertainer is notable for her sassy jokes and ostentatious costumes, including an elaborate Queen Elizabeth getup during the 71st Academy Awards in 1999.
Best Oscar quote: “What a night. Stars, Oscar winners, a great big party. What is this, Liza’s wedding?”
Comedian, actor, and banjo player extraordinaire, Steve Martin has hosted the Oscars three times, including his latest jaunt co-hosting with Alec Baldwin in 2010. Relying on his razor sharp wit, rather than flashy sets or purely topical humour, Martin is a throwback to Oscar hosts of old. He loves to send-up the celebrities in the crowd and the movie industry in general. While hosting in 2003, he quipped, “I handed in a script last year and the studio didn’t change one word. The word they didn’t change was on page 87.”
Best Oscar quote: “Hosting the Oscars is like making love to a beautiful woman: It’s something I only get to do when Billy Crystal’s out of town.”
What are your favourite Oscar moments? What are your favourite one-liners? Drop a comment below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe!