The 70th Tony Awards air tonight, and we’re in for one wild ride with The Late Late Show star James Corden as host. While we get excited for what’s sure to be a hilarious (and star-studded) show, we’re taking a look back at the talented hosts who have come before him.
Neil Patrick Harris and Hugh Jackman lead the pack of hosts, each working the gig four times. From performing elaborate song and dance numbers to hopping, skipping, and jumping their way down Broadway, these two Best Actor winners and Tonys vets have truly done it all.
But they’re not the only awarded actors who have tried a hand at hosting. Nathan Lane emceed the show on three separate occasions, as well as Oscar-winner Julie Andrews (who once turned down a Tonys nomination because the rest of her cast was snubbed). Jane Fonda took the stage in 1976 along with an all-star ensemble, while Whoopi Goldberg hosted in 2008 with an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony under her belt—not too shabby.
Last year’s show will be hard to top: Wicked’s Kristin Chenoweth and Cabaret star Alan Cumming used humor and costume changes to make one memorable night. But this year we've got Hamilton so who knows what the Tonys cards will hold. In honor of this weekend’s show, join us in taking a look back at the most memorable past hosts—and wishing Corden a Broadway-sized, “Break a leg!”
Tune in to the 70th Annual Tony Awards on June 12 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.
1. Hugh Jackman
The X-Men star reminded us that he is, in fact, a Tony winner when he took the stage to host the 2014 Tony Awards, but that wasn't his first time emceeing Broadway's Biggest Night—he served as host from 2003 to 2005. Jackman took home the award for Best Actor in a Musical in 2004 for The Boy From Oz, and Wolverine can seriously sing.
Throughout his four hosting gigs, the star has hopped, skipped, and jumped his way through the podcast, literally! For his 2014 entrance, Jackman channeled Bobby Van in "Take Me to Broadway" from the the 1953 movie, Small Town Girl, bouncing his way to the stage and then belting out "I Love the Tonys."
2. Neil Patrick Harris
Harris tied Jackman in his Tony hosting record, having hosted the show first in 2009 and then from 2011 to 2013. The actor then took home award himself the next year for Best Actor in a Musical for his role in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, a musical about a rock band led by a German transgender singer. "A year ago I was hosting the Tonys," Harris said in his acceptance speech. "This is crazy pants!"
Among his most memorable hosting moments was his hilarious 2011 opening number, "It's Not Just for Gays Anymore." The openly gay star joked about how "Broadway has never been broader" in a song and dance number that had the audience in stitches.
3. Nathan Lane
TV fans may know Lane as the effervescent Pepper Saltzman on Modern Family or even as the lawyer F. Lee Bailey on this year's hit show, American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson, but Lane is in fact a three-time Tonys host and two-time winner!
The actor made his hosting debut in 1995 alongside Glenn Close and Gregory Hines, when the trio eschewed a musical opening number and opted for some comedy instead. Lane hosted again in 1996 and 2001, and even presented in 2004 alongside Sarah Jessica Parker (above).
His 2001 hosting partner was Parker's husband Matthew Broderick, who was co-starring with him in The Producers during the broadcast. The two were both nominated for Best Actor in a Musical during the show—and Lane took home the trophy.
4. Julie Andrews
Three-time Tonys host Julie Andrews has won an Academy Award—but never a Tony. The Sound of Music star took home the 1965 Oscar for Mary Poppins, but never took home a trophy when she was nominated for Best Actress in a Musical at the Tonys in 1957, 1991, or 1996.
In fact, Andrews turned down her last nomination for her role in Victor/Victoria. The star believed that the rest of her cast was snubbed in not receiving a nod, and decided to "stand with the egregiously overlooked."
Her hosting duties, though, were well fulfilled, acting alone in her hosting debut in 1970, and later sharing the stage with Robert Preston in 1984 and Jeremy Irons in 1991.
5. Jane Fonda
Much like Andrews, Academy Award-winner and Tonys host Jane Fonda has been nominated but never crowned a Tony winner. The star, who received nods for There Was a Little Girl in 1960 and 33 Variations in 2009, instead was honored with the duty of hosting.
Fonda emceed the 1976 Tonys alongside Eddie Albert, Richard Burton, Diana Rigg, George C. Scott, and Trish Van Devere. The theme of the night was "The Ones That Got Away," where the stars performed a medley of songs from famous shows that didn't win a Tony, like Annie Get Your Gun, Peter Pan, and West Side Story.
6. Whoopi Goldberg
Tonys host Whoopi Goldberg, who helmed the role in 2008, is one of a select group of people who can call themselves an EGOT winner, meaning they've taken home an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. Goldberg, who was awarded a Tony for her work as a producer when Thoroughly Modern Millie took home the award for Best Musical in 2002, won a 1991 Oscar for Ghost, a 1985 Grammy for Best Comedy Recording, and two Daytime Emmys for Hollywood Squares.
When she returned to the Tonys stage in 2008, the triumphant actress had the audience laughing when she flew in on an umbrella as Mary Poppins, impersonating her fellow host and Oscar winner Julie Andrews.
7. Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming
When Wicked star Kristen Chenoweth took the stage at the 2015 Tony Awards alongside co-host Alan Cumming, their costume changes took center stage. From Cumming's purple no-pants suit to their Shakespeare-chic ensembles, their gender-swapping looks in The King and I costumes to Chenoweth's epic E.T. costume, there's no denying they had a lot of fun while hosting the show.
As for Tony Awards of their own, Chenoweth is a winner not for her role as Glinda in the fan-loved Wicked, but for the 1999 musical, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. For his part, Cumming took home a Tony in 1998 for Best Actor in a Musical when he starred in Cabaret.