When the Hollywood Foreign Press Association decided to establish a special, prestigious award for outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment, the members wanted it to bear an internationally recognized and respected name. So they turned to a born showman, Cecil B. deMille, who accepted the idea graciously, and the first Cecil B. deMille award went to him in 1952, the year his penultimate film, The Greatest Show on Earth, premiered. The following year, 1953, at the Tenth Annual Golden Globe Awards gala, Walt Disney received the DeMille award. Such notables (including several future DeMille awardees) as Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Robert Mitchum, Jane Russell, Stanley Kramer, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Doris Day, Samuel Fuller, Alan Ladd and others wrote warm congratulatory letters to the Association on this ten-year anniversary. So did Cecil B. DeMille, to wit:
During the last ten years the members of your Association have endeared themselves to us in Hollywood for two main reasons. You have made friends with us and you have made friends for us. It's difficult to say which of these two things makes us happier. Perhaps the first, because of its personal contact—the warmth of which I have felt every time I have met any of you. Congratulations on your 10th Anniversary—I hope I shall be around to congratulate you on your 25th. Sincerely, Cecil B. deMille
Unfortunately, deMille couldn’t make it. The last Golden Globe Awards gala he attended was the 15th, in 1958. The Cecil B. deMille award winners are chosen by the HFPA board of directors and presented each year (except for 1976). The first woman to receive the award was Judy Garland in 1962 (following Fred Astaire, something which delighted her to no end); the next was Joan Crawford in 1970. The list of winners provides a spectrum of talented human beings who have had a definite impact on the world of entertainment, be it Alfred Hitchcock, Lucille Ball, Sidney Poitier, Sophia Loren, Sean Connery, Barbra Streisand or any one of those thoughtfully selected for the honor.
Cecil B. deMille Award Recipients
1953 - Walt Disney
In 1928 he created "Steamboat Willie" introducing Mickey Mouse, and from that point there was no stopping the king of family entertainment in the U.S.
1954 - Darryl F. Zanuck
Child actor at 8, World War I soldier at 15 (he lied about his age), bantamweight boxer, screenwriter, producer and co-founder of 20th Century Fox...
1955 - Jean Hersholt
A Dane who came to Hollywood in 1914 when he was 28 and became a leading character actor and well-known humanitarian.
1956 - Jack L. Warner
Youngest of twelve children of Jewish immigrants from Poland who with three brothers established Warner Bros. which he ran with a firm hand until 1967.
1957 - Mervyn LeRoy
Child actor and newsboy who started in the wardrobe department in 1919 and became a top director/producer
1958 - Buddy Adler
Began as a writer and always looked for the strong story, as evidenced in the films during his time as the head of production for 20th Century Fox.
1959 - Maurice Chevalier
The beloved Frenchman came to Hollywood 1929 but was denied re-entry in 1935 due to his political views. By '59, he was back, however.
1960 - Bing Crosby
Vocalist-drummer turned singer turned actor--the world loved that memorable voice and personality, and so did the HFPA.
1961 - Fred Astaire
One of the immortals; began his career at age seven, danced with Ginger Rogers in ten films and then with Rita Hayworth, Eleanor Powell and Cyd Charisse
1962 - Judy Garland
Born in a trunk, working in films since 1935. When she received the award, A Star Is Born and her dramatic vignette in Judgment at Nuremberg were fresh in everyone's memory.
1963 - Bob Hope
From vaudeville to movies where seven Road pictures with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour as well as parodies and comedies made the world love him.
1964 - Joseph E. Levine
Born in direst poverty, a school drop-out at 14. As producer and founder of Embassy Pictures, he knew how to create excitement around his movies.
1965 - James Stewart
An intriguing leading man who came to represent the finest of American character traits.
1966 - John Wayne
He became the cinematic symbol of the strong man of few words who could solve every tricky situation and problem.
1967 - Charlton Heston
Since his debut as Mark Antony in Julius Caesar in 1949, he remained the quintessential portrayer of heroes.
1968 - Kirk Douglas
An actor in films since 1946, a producer of films such as Spartacus, he was also the U.S. Goodwill Ambassador since 1963.
1969 - Gregory Peck
He combined his acting (To Kill a Mockingbird) with being active in charitable, civil rights and film industry causes.
1970 - Joan Crawford
From 1925 and throughout the '60s, she was the reigning queen of the Hollywood filmscape.
1971 - Frank Sinatra
A singing/acting legend, loved and revered by countless fans all over the world.
1972 - Alfred Hitchcock
Hailed as the unmatched master of the thriller genre, first during his so-called British period, then in American films.
1973 - Samuel Goldwyn
A true Hollywood pioneer also known for his Goldwynisms, such as "Anyone seeing a psychiatrist should have his head examined."
1974 - Bette Davis
She began her screen career in 1931 and remained active for nearly 60 years, playing willful, liberated, spitefully independent females.
1975 - Hal B. Wallis
From motion picture theater manager to assistant to head of publicity at Warrner Bros. to becoming one of Hollywood's most successful producers.
1977 - Walter Mirisch
A Harvard graduate who worked his way up the administrative ladder, formed the Mirisch Company, Inc., with two brothers.
1978 - Red Skelton
The son of a circus clown who died before he was born, he was the star of many MGM comedies, combining these with superstardom on television.
1979 - Lucille Ball
Hollywood's greatest female clown... and the world still proclaims I Love Lucy.
1980 - Henry Fonda
When the HFPA honored him, there were memorable roles to look back on, except one--his last... On Golden Pond hit the screens the following year.
1981 - Gene Kelly
He danced, choreographed, sang and acted his way into our hearts from 1942 (For Me and My Gal) and on (Singin’ In The Rain, On The Town, An American in Paris…)
1982 - Sidney Poitier
His charismatic screen persona brought him into definite leading man status (To Sir, With Love, In The Heat of The Night, Guess Who’s Coming For Dinner). By the time of this award, he had also directed films for ten years.
1983 - Laurence Olivier
Lord Olivier acted from age nine and was especially known for making Shakespearean plays and characters come alive.
1984 - Paul Newman
An enduring superstar (Hud,Cool Hand Luke, The Sting, Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid ) with intelligence and humor saturating his roles, who had also demonstrated a distinct flair for directing.
1985 - Elizabeth Taylor
Having made her Hollywood screen debut at age ten, she became part of the world's cinematic royalty, from National Velvet in 1944 to Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in 1966 – and beyond.
1986 - Barbara Stanwyck
Cecil B. DeMille's favorite actress, equally at ease in comedy and drama--this was the year she left films to concentrate on television.
1987 - Anthony Quinn
Born in Mexico, he entered films in 1936 after a brief stage experience. In addition to his acting (Zorba The Greek, Lawrence of Arabia, La Strada), he was an accomplished painter and sculptor.
1988 - Clint Eastwood
The “Man With No Name" who ended up by being known by just about everyone on Earth. Versatile as an actor and also as a top director.
1989 - Doris Day
A singer whose voice sold millions of copies and opened the door to a movie career in comedy, then also in drama as in The Man Who Knew Too Much.
1990 - Audrey Hepburn
She came to represent grace, radiance and soulfulness--her appearance brought to mind delicate china but with the endurance of stainless steel.
1991 - Jack Lemmon
This Harvard-educated, piano-playing actor with a remarkably broad range had by this time made some forty-four motion pictures.
1992 - Robert Mitchum
A rugged leading man for more than four decades, whom Deborah Kerr said was a hundred times greater as an actor than he himself believed.
1993 - Lauren Bacall
Being publicized as "The Look" early on, she soon proved to be much more than that--having "cinema personality to burn," to quote James Agee.
1994 - Robert Redford
A movie hero with boyish looks whose strong ideas and ideals led into producing, directing, and the establishment of the Sundance Institute.
1995- Sophia Loren
The slave girl in Quo Vadis in 1949 went on to impress in a succession of roles (who can forget Two Women?) in more than 80 films in Italy and Hollywood.
1996 - Sean Connery
The handsome Scotsman began acting in films and on British TV in 1954. After being James Bond, he went on creating strong men in scores of films.
1997 - Dustin Hoffman
Erupting on the screen in The Graduate (1967), he has not stopped acting with body, soul and heart since.
1998 - Shirley MacLaine
A Renaissance woman who acts (comedy and drama), dances, sings, and writes about her spiritual wanderings, always ready to go out on a limb.
1999 - Jack Nicholson
A living legend who doesn't think of himself as such, an enduring superstar simply because he is a terrific actor.
2000 - Barbra Streisand
Singer, actress, film director, producer, writer, and composer whose popularity has endured and grown for nearly four decades.
2001 Al Pacino
One of the greatest actors in all of film history, Al Pacino established himself during one of film's greatest decades, the 70s, and has become an enduring and iconic figure in the world of American movies.
2002 - Harrison Ford
Ruggedly handsome, tightlipped leading man whose filmic output includes starring roles in four of the 10 highest-grossing films of all time: Star Wars (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), and Return of the Jedi (1983).
2003 - Gene Hackman
His tremendous ability with "ordinary guy" roles has been rightly praised, sometimes at the expense of his equally impressive comic timing and the undercurrent of eccentricity that sometimes floats to the surface of his straightest roles.
2004 - Michael Douglas
A Hollywood icon who has not allowed his star-studded pedigree to impede him from becoming one of the industry's greatest.
2005 - Robin Williams
Educated at Juilliard, his talent has carried him gracefully through roles hilarious, dramatic and bizarre.
2006 - Anthony Hopkins
His reserved character and personality belie his explosive energy on screen and his outstanding power of expression.
2007 - Warren Beatty
One of the most fascinating characters in the history of Hollywood, Warren Beatty received five Golden Globes; including one as Best Actor (Comedy or Musical) for Heaven Can Wait and another as Best Director for Reds.
2009 - Steven Spielberg
Director, producer, studio founder (DreamWorks) Spielberg has received Golden Globes for Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan and E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial.
2010 - Martin Scorsese
Scorsese received two Golden Globe Awards for Best Director of a Motion Picture for The Departed and Gangs of New York. He received five additional Golden Globe nominations, including four as Best Director (Casino, Age of Innocence, Goodfellas and Raging Bull) and one for Best Screenplay for Raging Bull (with Nicolas Pileggi).
2011 - Robert De Niro
An actors’ actor, from Mean Streets and The Godfather Part II to Silver Linings Playbook and Joy. Nominated for eight Golden Globes , winner as Best Actor/Drama for Raging Bull.
2012 - Morgan Freeman
A stellar career spanning over 40 years in film, stage and television. One of the most respected figures in the entertainment industry.
2013 - Jodie Foster
From child actor to movie star and beyond: director, producer, industry leader. Her acceptance speech at 70th Golden Globe Awards became one of the highlights of the evening.
2014 - Woody Allen
A king of comedy who moved at ease into drama and psicological observation throughout a massive career spanning seven decades. Eight times a Golden Globe nominee, winner twice, both times as a screenwriter, for The Purple Rose of Cairo and Midnight in Paris.
2015 - George Clooney
Actor, writer, director , producer and humanitarian. Ten Golden Globe nominations , three wins: O Brother, Where Art Thou (Actor, Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical), Syriana (Supporting Actor) and The Descendants (Actor, Motion Picture, Drama).
2016 - Denzel Washington
Washington’s achievements as a performer and a filmmaker have earned him seven Golden Globe Award nominations in two categories, resulting in two wins. He received the award at the 73rd annual Golden Globe Awards on January 10 2016.
2017- Meryl Streep
With eight Golden Globes and 29 nominations, Meryl Streep is an icon of the performing arts. She will be honored with the 2017 Cecil B. deMille Award at the 74th Annual Golden Globe® Awards on January 8, 2017.