Could Anyone EGOT At The 2015 Tonys? 11 Performers Are Very Close To The Ultimate Honor

US singer Liza Minnelli performs during the 45th Montreux Jazz Festival on July 15, 2011 in Montreux. The music festival will last until July 16, 2011. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
Source: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

There are many burning questions going into this Sunday's 69th Annual Tony Awards ceremony: Which shows will take home the evenings top prizes? Will hosts Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming measure up to the high bar set by Neil Patrick Harris? Will the stage of Radio City Music Hall collapse from the sheer weight of all those elaborate performances? But one question is constant every time a major awards show rolls around: Will anyone EGOT this year?

For those unfamiliar, EGOT stands for the holy grail of major entertainment awards: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony. It's basically the Triple Crown of the arts — except harder since you have to win four things instead of a paltry three. (Feh.) Only 12 performers in history have achieved this distinction, the first being legendary composer Richard Rodgers (Oklahoma!, South Pacific, The King And I, The Sound Of Music), who completed his EGOT in 1962.

Since then, the 11 other people who have joined him have included three more composers (Marvin Hamlisch, Jonathan Tunick, Robert Lopez), two directors (Mel Brooks, Mike Nichols), one producer (Scott Rudin), and five actors (Helen Hayes, Rita Moreno, John Gielgud, Audrey Hepburn, Whoopi Goldberg). The youngest person to ever EGOT was Robert Lopez, the songwriter behind such monster hits as Avenue Q, The Book Of Mormon, and Frozen, who won his qualifying Oscar last year at the age of 39. (He's also the fastest person to ever EGOT, taking only 10 years between his first Tony and his final qualifying award; on the other end of the spectrum, actress Helen Hayes took 45 years to complete hers.)

So, who might join the storied ranks of EGOT winners soon? There are 70 performers who are only missing one of the four awards; of those, 43 are still with us. That short list includes such living legends as Stephen Sondheim (missing an Emmy), John Williams (missing a Tony), and Cher (also missing a Tony). Sadly, none of the performers missing a Tony are up for a nomination in 2015, which means we won't see anyone complete their EGOT this Sunday. Bummer.

Of the 43 living people one award shy of an EGOT, which are actually the closest to reaching the milestone? There are several big names who are missing only a Grammy — the hardest award for an actor to earn since it honors music rather than TV, film, or stage. (The five actors who have EGOTed won their Grammy with either a Spoken Word Album or a Comedy Recording.) In fact, the Grammy makes it so hard for thespians to EGOT that the "Triple Crown of Acting" (to go back to the horse-racing metaphor) is considered almost as distinguished an achievement.

Here are seven living EGOT candidates who have already attained this Triple Crown, plus four who are similarly close to an EGOT. 

1. Ellen Burstyn

E — 7 nominations, 2 wins: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie, Political Animals (2013); Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series, Law & Order: SVU (2009)

O — 6 nominations, 1 win: Best Actress in a Leading Role, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1975)

T — 1 nomination, 1 win: Best Actress in a Play, Same Time, Next Year (1975)

Nominated for her first Oscar over 40 years ago for Peter Bogdanovich's The Last Picture Show, you may have seen Burstyn most recently in Christopher Nolan's Interstellar or the Blake Lively drama The Age Of Adaline.

2. Jeremy Irons

E — 4 nominations, 3 wins: Outstanding Narrator, Big Cat Week (2014); Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie, Elizabeth I (2006); Outstanding Voice-Over Performance, The Great War And The Shaping Of The 20th Century (1997)

O — 1 nomination, 1 win: Best Actor in a Leading Role, Reversal Of Fortune (1991)

T — 1 nomination, 1 win: Best Actor in a Play, The Real Thing (1984)

It's probably not a coincidence that the voice of The Lion King's Scar won his most recent Emmy for narrating Big Cat Week on the National Geographic Channel.

3. Al Pacino

E — 3 nominations, 2 wins: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie, You Don't Know Jack (2010); Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie, Angels In America (2004)

O — 8 nominations, 1 win: Best Actor in a Leading Role, Scent Of A Woman (1993)

T — 3 nominations, 2 wins: Best Actor in a Play, The Basic Training Of Pavlo Hummel (1977); Best Featured Actor in a Play, Does A Tiger Wear A Necktie? (1969)

Though he lost his first nomination for a Best Actor Oscar (for the role of Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II) in a shocking upset to Harry And Tonto's Art Carney, he would finally earn his little gold man for his performance as a blind Army vet in 1992's Scent Of A Woman

4. Christopher Plummer

E — 7 nominations, 2 wins: Outstanding Voice-Over Performance, Madeline (1989); Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series, Arthur Hailey's The Moneychangers (1977)

O — 2 nominations, 1 win: Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Beginners (2012)

T — 7 nominations, 2 wins: Best Actor in a Play, Barrymore (1997); Best Actor in a Musical, Cyrano (1974)

Though arguably most famous for playing Captain von Trapp in 1965's The Sound Of Music, that role didn't earn him a nod from the Academy. Plummer would have to wait another 44 years for his first Oscar nomination for playing Tolstoy in 2009's The Last Station. When he won his trophy for playing a recently out father in Beginners two years later, he became the oldest person to ever win an Oscar. (He was 82.)

5. Vanessa Redgrave

E — 5 nominations, 2 wins: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie, If These Walls Could Talk 2 (2000); Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or a Special, Playing For Time (1981)

O — 6 nominations, 1 win: Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Julia (1977)

T — 3 nominations, 1 win: Best Actress in a Play, Long Day's Journey Into Night (2003)

Redgrave caused quite a stir at the 50th Annual Academy Awards when she took the opportunity of her win to deliver a political speech about anti-semitism and McCarthyism, despite the fact that the Jewish Defense League was outside the theater's front doors, protesting Redgrave's involvement in a documentary called The Palestinian.

6. Geoffrey Rush

E — 1 nomination, 1 win: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie, The Life And Death Of Peter Sellers (2005)

O — 4 nominations, 1 win: Best Actor in a Leading Role, Shine (1997)

T — 1 nomination, 1 win: Best Actor in a Play, Exit The King (2009)

In the 2000 film Quills, where Rush played the sadistic Marquis de Sade (pun intended), he appeared alongside another actor who would eventually join him in the ranks of performers one award shy of EGOTing: Kate Winslet, who is awaiting a Tony Award to complete her superfecta.

7. Maggie Smith

E — 8 nominations, 3 wins: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, Downton Abbey (2012); Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie, Downton Abbey (2011); Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie, My House In Umbria (2003)

O — 6 nominations, 2 wins: Best Actress in a Supporting Role, California Suite (1979); Best Actress in a Leading Role, The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie (1970)

T — 3 nominations, 1 win: Best Actress in a Play, Lettice And Lovage (1990)

Perhaps Professor McGonagall herself needs to narrate the audiobook version of the inevitable novelization of the upcoming Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them film so that she can win herself a Grammy.

In addition to these seven "Triple Crown of Acting" winners, there are four more people who are thisclose to EGOTing. These performers all technically have awards from all four organizations, although in each case, one of them was a "non-competitive" or "honorary" award. (In order to be considered a true EGOT, one has to have triumphed specifically in competitive categories.)

8. Harry Belafonte

E — 4 nominations, 1 win: Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Musical Program or Series, The Revlon Revue (1960)

G — 2 nominations, 2 wins, 1 non-competitive award: Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (2000); Best Folk Recording, An Evening With Belafonte/Makeba (1966); Best Performance - Folk, Swing Dat Hamme (1961)

*O — 1 non-competitive award: Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award (2014)

T — 1 nomination, 1 win: Best Featured Actor in a Musical, John Murray Anderson's Almanac (1954)

The most famous Caribbean-American pop star in history has never been nominated for an Oscar, but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored him with their Humanitarian Award last year. (Throughout his life, Belafonte has been an active supporter of the Civil Rights and anti-apartheid movements, he served as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and he currently acts as the ACLU's celebrity ambassador for juvenile justice issues.)

9. James Earl Jones

E — 8 nominations, 2 wins: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, Gabriel's Fire (1991); Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Special, Heat Wave (1991)

G — 1 nomination, 1 win: Best Spoken Word Recording, Great American Documents (1977)

*O — 1 nomination, 1 non-competitive award: Academy Honorary Award (2011)

T — 4 nominations, 2 wins: Best Actor in a Play, Fences (1987); Best Actor in a Play, The Great White Hope (1969)

Oh look, the voices of Scar and  Mufasa on the same list! Coincidence? Probably. Oddly, the most famous voice in movies has never won an Oscar — his sole nomination came in 1970 for The Great White Hope, the film adaptation of the play he won his first Tony for the year before.

10. Liza Minnelli

E — 5 nominations, 1 win: Outstanding Single Program - Variety and Popular Music, Liza With A Z (1973)

*G — 2 nominations, 1 non-competitive award: Grammy Living Legend Award for Contributions and Influence in the Recording Field (1990)

O — 2 nominations, 1 win: Best Actress in a Leading Role, Cabaret (1973)

T — 4 nominations, 2 wins, 1 non-competitive award: Best Actress in a Musical, The Act (1978); Special Tony Award for adding lustre to the Broadway season (1974); Best Actress in a Musical, Flora, The Red Menace (1965)

Somehow, Liza With A Z never managed to snag herself a competitive Grammy despite two nominations. She did, however, manage to win an Oscar for her iconic performances as Sally Bowles in Bob Fosse's Cabaret despite a rather stacked deck of talent: other nominees for Best Actress that year were Diana Ross, Maggie Smith, Cicely Tyson, and Liv Ullmann.

11. Barbra Streisand

E — 9 nominations, 4 wins: Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program, Timeless: Live In Concert (2001); Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special, Barbra: The Concert (1995); Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program, Barbra: The Concert (1995); Outstanding Individual Achievements in Entertainment - Actors and Performers, My Name Is Barbra (1965)

G — 11 nominations, 4 wins: Best Female Vocal Performance, My Name Is Barbra (1965); Best Female Vocal Performance, People (1964); Album of the Year, The Barbra Streisand Album (1963); Best Female Vocal Performance, The Barbra Streisand Album (1963)

O — 5 nominations, 2 wins: Best Music - Original Song, A Star Is Born (1977); Best Actress in a Leading Role, Funny Girl (1969)

*T — 2 nominations, 1 non-competitive award: Special Tony Award "Star of the Decade" (1970)

Not only is it crazy that Babs isn't already an EGOT winner, but it's absolutely insane that the only category the Broadway Diva falls short in is the Tonys! Despite nominations for both Funny Girl and I Can Get It For You Wholesale, Streisand's only honor from the voting body came in the form of a Special Award — aka a "mea culpa" for snubbing her legendary performance as Fanny Brice. (The Tony that year went to Carol Channing for Hello, Dolly!)

Images: Robyn Beck (2), Joe Klamar (2), Patrick Kovarik, Gabriel Buoys, Justin Tallis, Johannes Eisele, Stuart Wilson, Jewel Samad, Marianna Massey, Fabrice Coffrini/Getty Images

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