The Oscars will be here on March 4, and all eyes will be on host Jimmy Kimmel as he ushers in Hollywood’s biggest night. It might be hard to top last year’s envelope snafu, but Kimmel is a pro at handling any mishap or hilarious moment that might happen along the way.
Over the years, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has recruited many comedians for hosting duties — from Bob Hope to Johnny Carson and Chris Rock. However, there were a few unusual choices from the acting talent pool along the way.
In fact, the Academy often used three or four actors in any given year from the 1960s to the 1980s. The groupings often didn’t make sense, but they were all hot actors at the box office in any given year.
How many of these hosts do you remember?
1. Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra hosted the 1963 Oscars, and he didn’t stay on message. For anyone who thinks politics and award shows are a new thing, take a look at Sinatra’s off-the-cuff speech before the Best Picture winner was announced that year.
“Before we get on with the big one, I’d like to take this opportunity… to speak for just a second to us — we in the picture business,” Sinatra said. “I for one am frankly a little tired of all of the talk about editorials, ‘What’s wrong with Hollywood,’ about runaway production and costs and the star system and how we need government subsidies. I know it and you know it: We need good pictures.”
He never hosted alone again, but he hosted alongside Sammy Davis Jr., Bob Hope and Shirley MacLaine in 1975.
2. Goldie Hawn
In 1976, Goldie Hawn was the only female hosting with some legendary names in the industry — Gene Kelly, Walter Matthau, George Segal and Robert Shaw. However, Hawn held her own with the boys. She playfully delivered the comedic moments and showed off her charm next to Segal before introducing the presenters for Best Foreign Language Film. It shows you every reason America loves Goldie Hawn.
Hawn returned in 1987 to host alongside Chevy Chase and Paul Hogan.
3. Richard Pryor
In 1977, the Academy delivered another odd combination of actors: Richard Pryor, Warren Beatty, Ellen Burstyn and Jane Fonda. What’s notable about this year is that Pryor called out #OscarsSoWhite long before it became a social media hashtag.
“I am here tonight to explain why no black people will ever be nominated for anything,” Pryor said. “This show is going out to 75 million people — none of them are black. We don’t even know how to vote. There are 3,349 people in the voting thing and only two black people — Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte.”
While Pryor did this as a comedic monologue and the audience roared with laughter, everything he said was true.
4. Robin Williams
Robin Williams hosted with Alan Alda and Jane Fonda in 1986, and it was a riot. Alda and Fonda played the straight man and woman to an always-unpredictable Williams as they opened the Oscars envelopes. Alda can barely keep a straight face as Williams welcomes the audience watching from the Philippines.
5. Chevy Chase
Chevy Chase did a solid job cohosting the 1987 show with Hawn and Hogan, so the Academy gave him a solo gig the following year. The New York Times did not favorably review him at all.
“Mr. Chase said he thought he might have offended the Academy when he dropped his trousers as Paul Newman stepped on stage to present an award,” The New York Times wrote. “Then again, saying ‘Good evening, Hollywood phonies’ as he took the stage may not have been a wise opening gambit.”
Chase never hosted another Oscars.
6. David Letterman
This was an awkward night at the Oscars in 1995. David Letterman prided himself on being an outsider in Hollywood, so it was a weird choice for the Academy to offer him the host job.
The night reached peak awkwardness with the bit in which Letterman introduced Oprah Winfrey and Uma Thurman to each other based on their unusual names. It was an odd bit, but we’ve never forgotten it.
7 – 8. James Franco & Anne Hathaway
In a desperate attempt to woo younger viewers in 2011, the Academy locked in James Franco and Anne Hathaway. It was a spectacular failure — other than Hathaway’s Rachel Zoe-curated wardrobe. Franco looked completely stoned while Hathaway overcompensated for his lackluster performance. Don’t ever try this combination again.
9. Seth MacFarlane
Did you forget this one? We tried because in the #MeToo generation, it’s pretty hard to convince anyone Seth MacFarlane wasn’t sexist or rude as the host of the 2013 Oscars. Even though the show drew its highest ratings in years, how can you defend the song “We Saw Your Boobs” now?
10. Neil Patrick Harris
Even though Neil Patrick Harris has had tremendous success hosting the Tony Awards and the Primetime Emmy Awards, many Oscar viewers have forgotten he hosted the 2015 Oscars. He seemed like such a natural fit for the show with his singing and dancing ability, but he fell flat in front of every A-list actor — and he knew it.
“I don’t know that my family nor my soul could take it,” he told the Huffington Post. “It’s a beast. It was fun to check off the list, but for the amount of time spent and the understandable opinionated response, I don’t know that it’s a delightful balance to do every year or even again.”
Don’t miss Jimmy Kimmel’s second time hosting the Oscars on Sunday, March 4 beginning at 6:30 p.m. Eastern/3:30 p.m. Pacific on ABC.