The Hollywood Foreign Press Association

COVERING THE ENTERTAINMENT CAPITOL FOR 68 YEARS

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s annual Golden Globe Awards have enabled the non-profit organization to donate more than $12 million in the past seventeen years to entertainment-related charities, as well as funding scholarships and other programs for future film and television professionals. In the year 2010 the donation was a record 1.541,000 dollars, the largest tally ever distributed in the organization’s history.

Known worldwide for its glittering Golden Globe Awards ceremony held every January and its multi-million dollar donations to charity, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association had humble origins that stemmed solely from a group of journalists’ desire to efficiently and accurately cover all aspects of the world of entertainment.

Today’s organization has its roots in the early 1940s when Pearl Harbor had drawn America into World War II. Audiences, hungry for diversion, were seeking out films offering escape, inspiration and entertainment; and filmmakers such as Orson Welles, Preston Sturges, Darryl Zanuck and Michael Curtiz were working hard to fulfill the need. Amid the turmoil of war and the difficulties with communications, a handful of Los Angeles-based overseas journalists banded together to share contacts, information and material. The idea was not a new one: previously, in 1928 the Hollywood Association of Foreign Correspondents (HAFCO) had been formed and, in 1935, the Foreign Press Society appeared. Both were short-lived, although the HAFCO had a brief moment in the spotlight when Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and other celebrities showed up at an International Ball the group organized at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

In 1943 the journalists, led by the correspondent for Britain’s Daily Mail, formed the Hollywood Foreign Correspondents Association and conceived the motto “Unity Without Discrimination of Religion or Race.” It was an uphill struggle at first as the film industry had not yet realized the importance of foreign markets. At first the members held informal gatherings in private homes. As the membership grew, HFPA meetings were held in larger quarters, with the association selecting the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel as the location for group functions.

The group’s first special event was a luncheon in December 1947, at which a meritorious plaque was awarded to Harry M. Warner, president of Warner Bros., in recognition of his humanitarian work as the principal sponsor of the “Friendship Train,” which left Hollywood with food, clothing and medical supplies for the needy of Europe.

As representatives of the world press, the group’s members felt it was incumbent upon them to give their audience their judgments as to Hollywood’s finest productions. The organization’s first awards presentation for distinguished achievements in the film industry took place in early 1944 with an informal ceremony at 20th Century Fox. There, Jennifer Jones was awarded Best Actress honors for “The Song of Bernadette,” which also won for Best Film, while Paul Lukas took home Best Actor laurels for “Watch on the Rhine.” Awards were presented in the form of scrolls.

The following year, the members of the association held a contest to find a design for a statuette that would best represent the overall aims of the organization. Marina Cisternas, president of the group in 1945-46, presented the idea for a golden globe encircled with a strip of motion picture film, and mounted on a pedestal.

In conjunction with the Golden Globes presentation, the Hollywood Foreign Correspondents Association held its first gala social event in 1945 with a formal banquet at the Beverly Hills Hotel. “Going My Way” won for Best Picture, while Ingrid Bergman and Alexander Knox were named Best Actress and Best Actor for their performances in “The Bells of St. Mary” and “President Wilson,” respectively.

In 1950 differing philosophies among members created a schism within the organization, resulting in a split into two separate groups — The Hollywood Foreign Correspondents Association and the Foreign Press Association of Hollywood.

For a time, the two organizations existed side by side, with one group handing out Golden Globes while the other awarded Henriettas, named for their president, Henry Gris. The separation ended in 1955 when the journalists reunited under the collective title “The Hollywood Foreign Press Association” with firm guidelines and requirements for membership.

During its early years the HFPA established itself with the studios by innovations such as its World Favorites awards, which it came up with by polling more than 900 newspapers, magazines and radio stations around the world. Among those honored were Tony Curtis, Marilyn Monroe and Leslie Caron. The group also came up with the idea of “bon voyage” interview lunches with actors and actresses who were leaving to make films in countries represented by the members.

There have been other important landmarks in the history of the Golden Globes. In 1951 the association decided to divide the best film, actor and actress nominees into two categories — drama, and musical or comedy — so that no genre would be slighted. In 1952, the HFPA created the Cecil B. DeMille Award to recognize “outstanding contribution to the entertainment field.” The award’s first recipient was DeMille himself.

In 1955 the Golden Globes began honoring achievements in television as well as in film. The first honorees in the Best Television Show category that year were “Dinah Shore,” “Lucy & Desi,”  “The American Comedy” and “Davy Crockett.” In 2007, The Golden Globes initiated the category “Best Animated Feature Film” and the first year nominees were “Cars,” “Happy Feet” and “Monster House.”

Today, the Golden Globes recognize achievements in 25 categories; 14 in motion pictures and 11 in television. dick clark productions has produced the Golden Globes ceremony since 1983.

A continuing tradition of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is the group’s annual selection of Miss and/or Mr. Golden Globe, the daughter and/or son of a well-known performer who assists in the Golden Globe ceremony. Previous Miss Golden Globe honorees include Laura Dern (daughter of Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern), Joely Fisher (daughter of Connie Stevens and Eddie Fisher), Melanie Griffith (daughter of Tippi Hedren) and last year’s honoree Lorraine Nicholson (daughter of Jack Nicholson). Previous Mr. Golden Globes include John Clark Gable and Freddie Prinze, Jr.

The HFPA is currently celebrating its 68th anniversary in Hollywood. Today the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association represent some 55 countries with a combined readership of more than 250 million. Their publications include leading newspapers and magazines in Europe, Asia, Australasia and Latin America, ranging from the Daily Telegraph in England to Le Figaro in France, L’Espresso in Italy and Vogue in Germany as well as the China Times and the pan-Arabic magazine Kul Al Osra.

Each year HFPA members interview more than 400 actors, directors, writers and producers, as well as reporting from film sets and seeing more than 300 films. Members also attend film festivals in other countries in order to seek out interesting and innovative foreign language films and establish cultural bonds with directors, actors, jurors and fellow journalists around the world.

Membership meetings are held monthly and the officers and directors are elected annually. A maximum of five journalists are admitted to the organization each year. All members are accredited by the Motion Picture Association of America.

As the international box office has dramatically expanded in recent years, so the Globes’ prestige has increased. The awards now have the distinction of being one of the three most-watched award shows on television.

Mission Statement

The mission of the HFPA is:

To establish favorable relations and cultural ties between foreign countries and the United States of America by the dissemination of information concerning the American culture and traditions as depicted in motion pictures and television through news media in various foreign countries;

To recognize outstanding achievements by conferring annual Awards of Merit, (Golden Globe® Awards), serving as a constant incentive within the entertainment industry, both domestic and foreign, and to focus wide public attention upon the best in motion pictures and television;

To contribute to other nonprofit organizations connected with the entertainment industry and involved in educational, cultural, and humanitarian activities;

To promote interest in the study of the arts, including the development of talent in the entertainment field through scholarships given to major learning institutions.

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~ by David Jetre on July 19, 2011.

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