John Gielgud Was the Oldest EGOT Recipient Ever at 87 Years Old

For entertainers, there isn’t any greater honor than receiving an EGOT. In fact, it can be so difficult to earn that only the most determined celebrities can make the dream a reality.

Therefore, when John Gielgud took home the EGOT in 1991, it was truly a noteworthy event. For him, it was a lifetime achievement that began in 1922 when he acquired his first paying role with Phyllis Neilson-Terry’s company. It’s also impressive because Gielgud was the oldest EGOT recipient ever, at 87 years old. 

What is the EGOT award?

The EGOT award is tough to get, which makes it a prestigious title to earn. To acquire it, actors must earn four major awards: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Awards. Many entertainers aren’t able to earn two or three of these awards, which further proves how challenging it can be.

What makes it so difficult? To earn an EGOT, you must have not only superb acting skills but also the ability to perform musicals well enough to take home an award for it. This is not always easy. Many celebrities focus on acting or singing. Few can do both.

What it takes to earn an EGOT

So, which awards must be earned, and how can someone achieve them? First, there is the Emmy award, which is given to someone who’s achieved something outstanding within the TV industry. Next is the Grammy, given to musicians who’ve achieved greatness with one of their albums or songs.

The Oscar is awarded to those who show technical and artistic talents in the film industry. Finally, a Tony award must be earned, and for that, you must do well within the Broadway community.

An entertainer does not need to earn the awards in any order; you simply must win one of each, demonstrating that you can achieve great things in every part of the entertainment industry. Those who try for it must spend years putting forth the hard work and dedication to the arts. 

According to Mental Floss, Gielgud was 87 years old when he achieved his Emmy win and brought home his EGOT award, a feat that has only been achieved by 16 other people. For Gielgud, it was a lifetime of trying, which all but ensures he will hold the title of being the oldest person to achieve full EGOT honors.

Why did John Gielgud win the EGOT?

English actor John Gielgud with a glass of wine celebrating his 80th birthday
John Gielgud celebrates his 80th birthday | Rogers/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Gielgud did amazing things in the entertainment industry during his lifetime. He is a legend within the film and music industry for not only his skills but for his dedication and love of performing. 

The London native won his first award, a Tony, in 1948. Gielgud received it for his performance in The Importance of Being Earnest. This was not his only Tony; he earned another one in 1961 for Big Fish, Little Fish.

Gielgud then won a Grammy for his part in Ages of Man in 1961 and an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in Arthur in 1981. In Arthur, he played the butler and sidekick of Dudley Moore.

In 1991, Summer’s Lease tipped the scales and gave him the coveted EGOT. Summer’s Lease was a British TV drama that aired in four parts starting in 1989. The series was based on John Mortimer’s novel with the same title. 

Sadly, John Gielgud died on May 21, 2000, at the age of 96. But the entertainment industry will never forget him. 

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