Of course, the Golden Globes show has a rep for casual fun. Jack Nicholson even mooned the aud in 1998.
But the show was extra, extra laid-back before it hit NBC airwaves in 1996, and the audienced sextupled in size to 18.5 million mainstream.
“If television cameras are on, people behave a little bit better,” says HFPA member Marianne Ruuth. “And if there are no television cameras, the years we have been black, it tends to be a little more frivolous.”
Until 1956, HFPA members handed out statuettes themselves. The next year, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra leapt onstage and set a comedic tone. The Rat Pack’s crashing went down so well that in ’58, the HFPA invited the famous threesome to create chaos all over again.
High-spirited hijinks continued, in part thanks to a free-flowing cash bar and a unique dinner-party layout, even as the awards ceremony aired locally on KTTV Los Angeles, from 1958-1962, and on “The Andy Williams Show” (NBC) from 1965-1968.
Ruuth recalls longer-winded frivolity before the current NBC primetime chapter.
“In 1966, Dean Martin presented John Wayne with the Cecil B. DeMille Award,” Ruuth explains. “He stumbled over his presentation and said whatever, so John Wayne thanked him for taking time out from his New Year’s party to come to this!”
With the cameras broadcasting to millions and millions, do guests curb their drinking?
“Hardly anybody gets really drunk,” says Yani Begakis, an HFPA member since 1959. “Maybe they have had an extra drink (when the show was dark or not as high-profile), but it was much the same.”