It had never been done before—and it hasn’t been done since. In the space of less than two months in 1973, Bob Fosse won two Tonys for his work on Pippin, an Oscar for directing Cabaret and three Emmys for his work on Liza Minnelli‘s acclaimed special, Liza with a Z. That’s three-quarters of an EGOT in about the time many men go between haircuts.
The sweep began at the Tonys on March 25, where Fosse won best direction of a musical and best choreography. It continued at the Oscars two days later, where Fosse won best director, in an upset over Francis Ford Coppola, the director of The Godfather. Accepting the Oscar, Fosse wryly noted, “Being characteristically a pessimist and cynic, this and some of the other nice things that have happened to me in the last couple of days may turn me into sort of a hopeful optimist and ruin my whole life.”
The winning streak culminated at the 25th annual Emmy Awards on May 20, where Fosse won outstanding single program—variety or musical, directing for a variety special and outstanding choreography.
Fosse shared the Emmy for outstanding single program—variety or musical with Minnelli and Fred Ebb. The three had also worked together on Cabaret. The Emmys, hosted by Johnny Carson, were held at the Shubert Theater in Los Angeles.
Fosse, who was 45 at the time of his sweep, had previously won five Tonys for best choreography, for The Pajama Game (1955), Damn Yankees (1956), Redhead (1959), Little Me (1963) and Sweet Charity (1966). After Pippin, he would go on to win twice more in that category, for Dancin’ (1978) and Big Deal (1986). Pippin is the only show for which he also won for best direction of a musical.
Fosse never won another Oscar, but he was nominated three more times—for directing Lenny (1974) and for directing and co-writing the semi-biographical All That Jazz (1979). Dustin Hoffman, the star of Lenny, and Roy Scheider, the star of All That Jazz, were both nominated for best actor.
This versatile talent was never nominated for a Grammy—the only EGOT award that eluded his grasp—though the cast album from Redhead, which he directed and choreographed, won best Broadway show album at the second Grammys in 1959.
Fosse worked with Gwen Verdon on many of his biggest Broadway hits, including Damn Yankees, New Girl in Town, Redhead, Sweet Charity, Chicago and Dancin’. Fosse and Verdon, the subjects of FX’s acclaimed miniseries Fosse/Verdon, were married from 1960 until his death, at age 60, on Sept. 23, 1987. Verdon later served as artistic advisor on the musical revue Fosse, which ran from 1999 to 2001 and won a Tony for best musical.