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Inspiring Words From EGOT Winners

It’s not an official award, but the EGOT is nonetheless a rare and coveted honor in entertainment. An EGOT winner is someone who has taken home awards at the Emmys, Grammys, Oscars, and Tonys — sometimes referred to as the “grand slam of show business.”

The acronym was coined in 1984 by Miami Vice actor Philip Michael Thomas. At the time, he said in an interview that his future goal was to get to EGOT. "That stands for Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony," he said. "Hopefully in the next five years I will win all those awards." He even had the letters engraved in a gold pendant he wore around his neck. If this all sounds familiar, it’s probably thanks to the NBC sitcom 30 Rock; the show aired a 2009 episode inspired by Thomas’ ambition.

As of 2022, only 17 people have ever achieved EGOT status. The first (then-unnamed) EGOT winner was in 1962 (Richard Rodgers of Rodgers and Hammerstein fame), and the most recent one was in 2022 (Jennifer Hudson). Read on to learn about the 17 members of this exclusive pool of talent, with quotes that speak to the spirit behind their life’s work.

I think that the theater is my medium… I can say everything I want to say inside the walls of a legitimate theater.
Richard Rodgers was a composer who, alongside lyricist Oscar Hammerstein, wrote such award-winning hit musicals as “South Pacific,” “Oklahoma!,” and “The Sound of Music.”

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An actress always knows when she’s hit it and mostly you haven’t; but once or twice I think I hit it right, so maybe that’s good enough for one life.
Actress Helen Hayes was known as the First Lady of American Theatre, a title earned over her 80-year career. She became an EGOT winner in 1977, making her the first woman to do so.

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It is through art that we will prevail and we will endure. It lives on after us and defines us as people.
Rita Moreno was the third person — and the first Latina — to complete an EGOT, thanks in part to her roles in the original “West Side Story” movie and the Broadway play “The Ritz.”

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Acting is half shame, half glory. Shame at exhibiting yourself, glory when you can forget yourself.
John Gielgud was an actor and theater director whose first award toward his EGOT was for the play “The Importance of Being Earnest” in 1948.

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I never think of myself as an icon. What is in other people's minds is not in my mind. I just do my thing.
Audrey Hepburn was one of the biggest Hollywood icons of the 20th century. She began her EGOT track with a Best Actress Oscar for “Roman Holiday.”

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Music is truly an international language, and I hope to contribute by widening communication as much as I can.
Marvin Hamlisch was a composer and conductor known for the music in the film “The Way We Were,” as well as the popular Broadway show “A Chorus Line.”

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My friends who are doctors and lawyers and stockbrokers retire because they’d rather do something else. I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve been able to make a living doing what I love to do, and I have no desire to do anything else.
Jonathan Tunick is a composer who completed his EGOT win in 1997 with a Tony Award for his orchestration on the musical “Titanic.”

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Even though it seems foolish and silly and crazy, comedy has the most to say about the human condition. Because if you can laugh, you can get by.
Mel Brooks is an actor, comedian, filmmaker, and songwriter who won Oscars, Emmys, and Grammys for “The Producers,” which he wrote and directed.

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Cheer up, life isn't everything.
Mike Nichols was a comedian turned director who was celebrated for directing the film “The Graduate,” the TV miniseries “Angels in America,” and the “Monty Python’s Spamalot” stage show.

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Actresses can only play women. I'm an actor, I can play anything.
Whoopi Goldberg completed her EGOT win in 2002 when she won both a Tony for producing “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and an Emmy for appearing in “Beyond Tara: The Extraordinary Life of Hattie McDaniel.”

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If you're going to spend two or three years of your life working on something, you've got to be making the kind of movie that discusses and influences the culture and is engaged in the world you're living in.
Scott Rudin completed his EGOT win in 2012 when “The Book of Mormon: Original Broadway Cast Recording,” which Rudin worked on as a producer, won a Grammy Award.

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Whenever Disney asks if you want to do a fairy-tale musical, you say yes.
Robert Lopez is a songwriter who counts penning two Oscar-winning songs, “Let It Go” from “Frozen” and “Remember Me” from “Coco,” among his EGOT achievements.

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You are lucky if you know what you want to do in life. You are incredibly lucky if you are able to have a career in it.
Andrew Lloyd Webber is the musical theater composer behind iconic and award-winning titles such as “Cats,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and “Evita.”

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Story is king. If you’ve got a good story, you’ve got a shot.
Tim Rice is a lyricist and producer best known for his collaborations with composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, as well as songs from the hit Disney films “The Lion King” and “Aladdin.”

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We all must follow a different path to let our light shine, and that’s what makes us so unpredictable and unique.
John Legend has won a whopping 12 Grammys. He achieved EGOT status in 2018 when he won an Emmy alongside Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice for starring in the “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert” TV special.

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Collaboration is being open to each other's ideas and benefiting from each other's perspectives in an open way. It's also about spurring each other on to doing really great, hard work — it's easier to do it in a collaboration than on your own.
Alan Menken is a composer who already had a combined 20 Grammys, Oscars, and Tony Awards to his name when he won an Emmy and achieved EGOT status in 2020.

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Don't let doubt stop you from getting where you want to be.
Jennifer Hudson is the youngest woman to achieve EGOT status. It started with a Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 2007 for “Dreamgirls,” and was completed in 2022 when “A Strange Loop,” for which she was a producer, won the Tony Award for Best Musical.

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Photo credit: Kevork Djansezian/ Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

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About the Author
Nicole Villeneuve
Nicole is a writer, thrift store lover, and group-chat meme spammer based in Ontario, Canada.
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