Golden Globe Memories

In 1959 I was introduced by Bertil Unger, president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association at the time, as a new member along with Yani Begakis in a general membership meeting held at the Knickerbocker Hotel in Hollywood. Hilda Ulloa was vice president Alan Hunter was secretary and Victor Holguin was the treasurer. Membership meetings were held monthly.

Our Golden Globe Awards in the 1960s were broadcasted during the Andy Williams Show. The show was only one hour long and very popular. The Golden Globe Awards were held at the Cocoanut Grove at The Ambassador Hotel on Wilshire boulevard. The Cocoanut Grove was a very hot spot attended by the who’s who, including Howard Hughes. The room was richly and elegantly decorated with several coconut palm trees. It was an Iconic room.

Hilda Ulloa used to make the seating arrangements at her home. The Golden Globe Awards were attended by some of the studio heads like Samuel Goldwyn and Louis Mayer of MGM, as well as several movie stars. One year the president Bertil Unger was sick and as vice president, it fell to me to deliver the welcome speech on behalf of the HFPA.

Many memorable events occurred during those Award ceremonies such as when John Wayne, accepting the Golden Globe, said ‘I licked the big C (meaning cancer )’. When Samuel Goldwyn delivered the Globe to Marcello Mastroianni, he could not pronounce his name and said “I would have changed his name if he would have worked for me.”  Sally Field acted in the TV series The Flying Nun – she came flying over the heads of the audience amid their applause and landed on the lap of John Wayne. Wayne acted in True Grit in which he was wearing an eye patch; when he received his award he said “I should have worn this patch long time ago” (hinting that he won because he was wearing it referring to the patch that Moshe Dayan the Israeli defense minister used to wear.) Julie Andrews, Marilyn Monroe, Rock Hudson were among the attendees.

During the 1960s I held the positions of board member, chairman & vice president. The board use to meet in the president’s apartment (the HFPA did not have an office at the time). The treasurer used to carry all the Association documents in a small briefcase. Then we rented a very very small room near the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. The board used to interview and select a Miss Golden Globe, later several of them would become recognized actresses. The first man to become Mr. Golden Globe was the son of Clark Gable, he was born after his father’s death.

Syd Cassyd was a member of the HFPA and was twice elected vice president, He is recognized as the one who founded the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and started the Emmy awards, which earned him a Star for TV on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. The star is located on the 7000 block on the south side of Hollywood Blvd. The Television Academy eventually instituted the “Syd Cassyd Founder’s Award in his honor.”

Moustapha Akkad was also a member and became a movie director and a producer. He started the Halloween movies and gave Jamie Lee Curtis one of her very first acting jobs. He was killed by a terrorist bombing attack while attending a wedding in Amman, Jordan.

George Spiro Dibie was a secretary. He became a photographer and won 5 Emmy Awards for cinematography, He was, for 20 years, president of the International Cinematographers Guild, Local 600. Sven Rye was consul general of Denmark and became president of the HFPA.                

Movie premieres in the 1960s were a black-tie event often followed by elegant sit-down dinners. Dick Clark met with the board proposing to have the Golden Globes show broadcast by NBC. It was good news as we felt the HFPA was going toward a better future. With limited finances to afford proper legal representation, we signed a contract with DCP.

After the Cocoanut Grove was closed for renovations, the ceremony was moved to the International Ballroom at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. One year the Awards were held at the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City. That year Judy Garland received a standing ovation upon receiving the Golden Globe.

The popularity of the Globes increased year after year – a dinner with champagne projected a relaxed, spontaneous atmosphere. For many TV viewers, it is still a favorite television event, and gained the moniker of “the party of the year”.  

Despite a bumpy road each administration contributed to build the HFPA, adding a brick over another. The work will continue and the legacy will prevail.