A Brief History of the SAG Awards

The inaugural Screen Actors Guild Awards® aired live on NBC from Stage 12, Universal Studios, on February 25, 1995. Present that evening were some of the most talented actors in the world, including Tom Hanks, John Travolta, Jessica Lange, Morgan Freeman, Susan Sarandon, Edward James Olmos, Helen Hunt, and hundreds more. Ann-Margret was present to acknowledge her dear friend George Burns as he received the first televised presentation of the Life Achievement Award, the Guild’s highest honor. Unveiled during this evening for the first time was the Guild’s new award statuette, The Actor®™, as well as the first awards for ensembles in drama series and comedy series which honor all of the actors who are the regulars in television series. It is this unique recognition that goes to the fundamental spirit of Screen Actors Guild™, our union -- the acknowledgement of a group effort, both lead and support. From this auspicious beginning the Screen Actors Guild Awards® has been embraced as one of the most prestigious in the entertainment industry

The 2nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards® aired live on NBC from the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on February 24, 1996. The brightest stars from film and television were in attendance including Jodie Foster, James Earl Jones, Tom Hanks, Alfre Woodard, Kurt Russell, Harry Connick Jr., Jerry Seinfield, Jimmy Smits, and many more. Tom Skerritt presented Robert Redford’s Life Achievement Award. Enthusiastic response to the first show’s television ensemble categories led to the creation of a similar tribute for motion picture casts. The show also acknowledged the work of background singers and stunt performers and initiated a concept which was to become a staple of future shows, a vignette in which actors tell us "How I Got My SAG Card."

On February 22, 1997 the 3rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards® was telecast live on NBC from the Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center. Star studded, the actor friendly event saw Glenn Close present the Life Achievement Award to Angela Lansbury. Other highlights of the evening included the reuniting of Michael Cole, Peggy Lipton and Clarence Williams III of the "Mod Squad" to present the Outstanding Performance of an Ensemble of a Drama Series, and LeVar Burton, Cicely Tyson, and Edward Asner, cast members of "Roots", the most watched miniseries in television history, to present the awards for Outstanding Performances by a Male and a Female in a movie or miniseries. The show also saluted stunt women and background singers. Following the evenings events, the Awards Show guests moved onto the stage of the Shrine Auditorium for a post-awards gala benefiting the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, hosted by the Entertainment Industry Foundation and People Magazine.

The 4th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards® was telecast live on TNT on Sunday, March 8, 1998 from the Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center.Within the glamorous setting one could get a distinct feeling that a large family had gathered to enthusiastically applaud their fellow family members who received The Actor®™. Due to her hospitalization, Gregory Peck was present to accept Elizabeth Taylor’s Life Achievement Award. Other special acknowledgements went to background performers and founding member and nominee, Gloria Stuart. For the second consecutive year, the Awards Show luminaries moved to the stage of the Shrine Theater for a post-awards gala benefiting Screen Actors Guild Foundation which was sponsored by People Magazine, The Entertainment Industry Foundation, and the Nexxus Products Company.

Celebrating its 5th anniversary on Sunday, March 7, 1999, the Screen Actors Guild Awards® again aired live on TNT from the Shrine Exposition Center. The evening brought out hundreds of motion picture and television actors to honor their peers. SAG members on hand to present the Life Achievement Award to Kirk Douglas included Janet Leigh, Karl Malden, Lauren Bacall, and Dan Aykroyd, along with a moving tribute from son Michael Douglas. A highlight of the evening included a tribute to voice-over performers in animation. The glamorous post-awards gala, benefiting the SAG Foundation and hosted by People Magazine, The Entertainment Industry Foundation and Excite.com, featured the popular band ‘Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.’

The Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center was transformed into a dramatic candlelit dinner venue for the 6th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards® , which aired live on TNT on Sunday, March 12, 2000. A sold-out audience of film and television luminaries gave a standing ovation as Denzel Washington presented SAG's 36th Annual Life Achievement Award to Sidney Poitier, whose moving acceptance speech paid tribute to the actors and filmmakers who shared his groundbreaking artistic journey. Other highlights of the evening included salutes to the talented actors who earn their living creating memorable characters in commercials and to TV's great funny women. The elegant post-awards gala benefiting the Screen Actors Guild Foundation was again hosted by People Magazine and The Entertainment Industry Foundation, joined this year by Cadillac.

"Classic Hollywood" was the décor theme and today's finest actors the focus at the Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center when the 7th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards® aired live on TNT on Sunday, March 11, 2001. Film and television's leading lights rose to their feet as Whoopi Goldberg presented SAG's 37th Annual Life Achievement Award to Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. In an acceptance speech that was a lovely and moving verbal duet, the elegant and eloquent couple characterized themselves as artists, workers, image makers and peacemakers, devoted to elevating by precept and example. Other highlights of the evening included salutes to the flexible "Actors of a Thousand Faces" and to the union's versatile character actors. The very popular post-awards gala benefiting the Screen Actors Guild Foundation overflowed the dramatically decorated tent, and was again hosted by PEOPLE Magazine and the Entertainment Industry Foundation, joined this year by BalanceBar®.

Film and television’s finest actors were greeted by a luminous new set and contemporary table décor when they entered the Los Angeles Shrine Exposition for the 8th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards® ceremonies which aired live on TNT on Sunday, March 10, 2002. Tom Selleck’s presentation of SAG’s 38th Annual Life Achievement Award to Edward Asner included a retrospective of Mr. Asner’s work as well as reflections by Kate Asner, Ed Begley, Jr., Mike Farrell, Danny Glover and Mary Tyler Moore. Mr Asner’s acceptance speech, like his formidable acting career, was a marvelous mix of humor and serious emotion. Another highlight of the evening was a salute to “Child Actors” introduced by Dakota Fanning, the youngest performer ever to receive an individual Actor® nomination. The post-awards gala benefiting the Screen Actors Guild Foundation was again hosted by PEOPLE Magazine and the Entertainment Industry Foundation, joined by new co-presenter GMC Yukon and, for the second consecutive year, by co-sponsor BALANCE® Bar. The nearly 1100 guests danced, dined and mingled in the domed and tented futurist complex constructed just for the occasion.

When film and television's leading actors stepped on the red carpet for the 9th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards®, they were greeted by 10-foot, 200-pound likenesses of the coveted Actor® statuettes. Live music welcomed the 1,000 actors and industry guests inside the Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center, which had been transformed into a richly dramatic supper-club setting before a sweeping arched stage for the ceremonies which aired live on TNT on Sunday, March 9, 2003. Humor and affection marked Clint Eastwood's acceptance of SAG's 39th Annual Life Achievement Award from Ray Romano, following a filmed tribute featuring Morgan Freeman, Marcia Gay Harden, Sean Penn, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Meryl Streep, The Guild also celebrated the versatility of its members with a special film montage saluting "Actors Who Sing", introduced by three-time Actor® recipient Megan Mullally and a filmed appreciation of "Regional Actors" introduced by previous Actor®-nominee Michael Clarke Duncan. For the seventh consecutive year, PEOPLE magazine and the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) in support of the Screen Actors Guild Awards® presented a donation to the Screen Actors Guild Foundation and, along with first year co-presenting sponsor, The Mirage Hotel & Casino and third year co-sponsor, Balance® Bar, hosted the official Post-Awards Gala.

More than 1100 actors and industry notables gathered at the Shrine Exposition Center on February, 22, 2004 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Actor® ceremonies and the 70th anniversary of Screen Actors Guild. The art deco movie palaces of the 1930’s, when Screen Actors Guild was in its infancy, were the inspiration for a new set and décor designed to create the evening’s elegant ambiance. In tribute to the Screen Actors Guild Awards® 10th annual ceremony, Sean Hayes introduced “And The Actor Went To…,” an exuberant look back at a decade of memorable SAG Awards® moments. After an homage on film by Kirk Douglas, Patty Duke, Angela Lansbury and Eva Marie Saint, a graciously eloquent Karl Malden accepted Screen Actors Guild’s 40th Life Achievement Award from Michael Douglas. PEOPLE magazine and the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), hosted the Screen Actors Guild Post-Awards Gala for the eighth-consecutive year to honor the philanthropic causes and good works of the members of the Screen Actors Guild. The gala, benefiting the Screen Actors Guild Foundation and commemorating PEOPLE’s 30th Anniversary, immediately followed the SAG Awards in a flower-filled tent on the the Shrine Exposition Center’s backlot. Gala guests were treated to a spirited performance by rock sensation Gavin DeGraw who was spontaneously introduced by Actor® honoree Charlize Theron.

A who's who of American acting celebrated 2004's finest performances and the start of the SAG Awards second decade in ceremonies telecast live on TNT on Sunday, February 5, 2005 from the Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center. The 11th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards® stunning production design paid visual tribute to the film and television industry. Flowing sheets of water were a reminder that the Actors® honor performances conveyed through a moving image. Design elements in glass, copper and silver were used in the set architecture, showroom and table decor in homage to the materials from which lenses, lights, cables and film are made. In one of the evening's many emotional high points, Mel Gibson and Julie Andrews presented SAG's 41st Life Acheivement Awards to James Garner, following a unique autobiographical short film in which the beloved actor reflected on the personal and creative journey that brought him to receive SAG's highest honor. The SAG Awards tradition of saluting the Guild's membership took a personal turn as well this year, with the filmed profiles of some of the most accomplished artists among the Guild's stunt performers, puppeteers, voice actors, background actors, singers and dancers. For the ninth consecutive year PEOPLE magazine and the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) celebrated actors' work both on and off the screen by hosting the official SAG Awards Gala. The tented back lot of the Shrine Exposition Center was transformed by walls, ceiling and furniture themed in black and white circular shapes accented by thousands of yellow roses into a playful space reminiscent of magical 1960's film sets, where with exuberant partygoers rocked on well into the night.

The luminaries of film and television celebrated 2005's finest performances on Sunday, January 29, 2006 in ceremonies telecast for the first time simultaneously on two networks, TNT and TBS. The live simulcast from the Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center brought the 12th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards its highest ratings ever on TNT. Just as the Screen Actors Guild Awards celebrates performances conveyed through a moving image, the 12th Annual SAG Awards' production design and decor paid tribute to the cinematic arts.  Topped by a projecting canopy of light, the translucent architectural space of the this year's stage conveyed movement through fountains of water and changing color. Larger-than-life Actor statues seemed to float above reflecting pools in homage to the display of statuary in the world's arts institutions, public spaces and water gardens. In one of the events most emotional moments, a long and heartfelt standing ovation greeted SAG's 42nd Life Achievement Award recipient Shirley Temple Black, who was presented Screen Actors Guild's highest honor by Jamie Lee Curtis, following a filmed tribute introduced by Dakota Fanning. A cinematic salute to SAG members who perform in commercials, introduced by William Shatner, continued the SAG Awards tradition of spotlighting the Guild's diverse acting talent. For the tenth consecutive year PEOPLE Magazine and the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) celebrated actors' work both on and off the screen by hosting the official SAG Awards Gala. The tented back lot of the Shrine Exposition Center was transformed into a chic white ballroom with sleek black detailing, punctuated by dramatic arragements of calla lilies and fragrant gardenias, where partygoers danced, mingled and lingered late into the evening.

Morning drizzle gave way to a sun-kissed Southern California afternoon as film and television’s leading actors walked down a media-packed red carpet on their way to celebrating 2006’s finest performances on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2007. The live simulcast from the Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center on TNT and TBS brought the Screen Actors Guild Awards® its highest ratings ever on cable. The production design and décor for the 13th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards contrasted old world theatricality with the modern mechanics required to capture the moving image. On stage and in custom-made chandeliers above, hand-draped translucent chiffon created flowing classic forms over a skeleton of aluminum trusses, such as one would find on a movie set or television studio. The magic of lighting transformed these humble materials into a glamorous background and created a new mood and look for each segment of the show. A warm standing ovation greeted SAG’s 43nd Life Achievement Award recipient Julie Andrews, who was presented SAG’s highest honor by Dick Van Dyke, following filmed tribute introduced by Anne Hathaway. Continuing the SAG Awards™ tradition of spotlighting the Guild’s diverse talent, Kiefer Sutherland introduced a salute to “Actors Who Are Heard but Not Seen.” For the eleventh consecutive year PEOPLE magazine and the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) celebrated actors’ work both on and off the screen by hosting the official SAG Awards™ Gala. On the backlot of the Shrine, in a tent with no visible means of support, billows of mocha fabric punctuated by violet conversation groups and blue Belgian hydrangeas provided a serene background for meeting, mingling, dining and dancing to a special performance by Grammy-winning singer-songwriter John Legend.

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