30 Rock once had a running gag about Tracy Morgan’s character having the career goal of racking up an EGOT – Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards for his work. Not that Tracy Jordan (or Morgan) has a snowball’s chance of realizing that dream, but EGOT-ists are actually a pretty sizable club. Its membership includes more than a dozen multi-talents, among them Mel Brooks, Liza Minnelli, Richard Rodgers and Audrey Hepburn.
But only a couple of artists can claim a PEGOT – Peabody, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony – which is vastly more difficult.
One is the late comedian and director Mike Nichols (top). His Peabody came from directing the HBO movie Wit, which also earned him an Emmy. He won an Oscar for directing The Graduate (left) and multiple Tonys for directing Broadway plays as diverse as Plaza Suite, Death of a Salesman and Spamalot. His Grammy was for a 1961 comedy album with his then-partner Elaine May.
The other PEGOT-ist is Barbra Streisand. She has an Oscar for Funny Girl. She has a literal truckload of Grammys. Several of her TV specials won Emmys. Her Tony is an honorary – she got snubbed, inexplicably, for both How to Succeed in Business and Funny Girl on stage – but she has an amazing four claims to Peabodys.
Her first Peabody came as part of an institutional awarding in 1965 to CBS and NBC for making room in their prime time schedules for memorable music specials starring her, Frank Sinatra and Julie Andrews, respectively.
Streisand’s contribution was My Name Is Barbra, wherein she performed a dozen songs, including “My Man,” “I’ve Got No Strings” and “Someone to Watch Over Me.” At her insistence, the program eschewed the expected accoutrements of prime-time spectaculars of its time. There were no guest stars, no dancers, just a series of meticulously conceived, staged and lit pieces in which Streisand sang.
The following year, Streisand shared a second Peabody by way of designer Tom John’s win for specials that included Color Me Barbra. Unlike her first, Color Me was in living color, not black and white, and made the most of it. She appeared in elaborate costumes suggesting women in history from Nefertiti to Marie Antoinette, and she performed standards like “The Minute Waltz” and “Where or When” and a medley that stitched together songs that ranged from “Animal Crackers in My Soup” to “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face” to “Sam, You Made the Pants Too Long.” Once again, the special was a huge popular success as well as a hit with Peabody judges.
Her third and most specific Peabody was bestowed for 1994’s Barbara Streisand The Concert, (left) a video record of performances at the MGM Grand Hotel during her first concert tour in 30 years. Many of the same accomplices from the early specials – producers Martin Erlichman and Gary Smith, director Dwight Hemion – were involved. Marvin Hamlisch conducted the 64-piece orchestra. The Peabody judges praised Streisand for “bringing her unique gift of music to the television screen with a matching talent for production mastery.”
She earned a fourth George Foster as executive producer of Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story, a 1995 TV-movie about a decorated Army colonel discharged for being honest about her sexual orientation.
Not even such versatile legends as Frank Sinatra and Julie Andrews achieved PEGOT status. Sinatra has no Tony. Neither, surprisingly, does Andrews.
Other great vocalists and stylists who’ve gotten a Peabody for their work on television include Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Jimmy Durante and Dinah Shore.