The Peabody Awards

The Peabody Awards

The Ultimate Show Biz Coup: PEGOT

Noel Holston - 1/12/2015
The Ultimate Show Biz Coup: PEGOT

The comedy series 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. Clearly the Tracy Jordan character is not a good bet to realize that dream.

EGOT-ists are actually a pretty sizable club, one whose membership includes Mel Brooks, Liza Minnelli, Richard Rodgers and Audrey Hepburn. But only a couple of artists can claim a PEGOT – Peabody, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony – which is vastly more difficult. One is the late director Mike Nichols, whose Peabody came directing the movie Wit on HBOBarbra Streisand accepts Peabody The other, with an amazing four claims to Peabodys as well as her other trophies, is Barbra Streisand.

Streisand’s 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 medly 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, 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 an 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.