[ALL ABOUT EVE] The Sarah Siddons Society Award Presented to Celeste Holm, 1967.
The award a bronze plated figure of a seated Sarah Siddons on a wood base, with engraved plaque reading: "SARAH SIDDONS SOCIETY AWARD/Chicago's Actress of the Year/1967-68/CELESTE HOLM/"Mame"/Hotels Ambassador." Height with base 11 inches; depth 6 inches; length 7 inches. Minor wear.
Celeste Holm's cherished Sarah Siddons Society Award, the fictional acting prize at the heart of All About Eve, the iconic film in which Ms. Holm co-starred in 1950, made real with the founding in 1952 of an actual Sarah Siddons Society motivated by the film. Presenting one award annually for excellence in a Chicago theatrical production, here we have a real Sarah Siddons Society Award of the finest association as Celeste Holm, one of four actresses in All About Eve nominated for an Academy Award, is the only actress from the film to earn a real Sarah Siddons Society Award for a performance in a Chicago production. Ms. Holm is here recognized for her outstanding performances in 1967 in the starring role of Mame at the Shubert Theatre.
Behind the opening credits of All About Eve is a long shot of the Sarah Siddons Award and the film commences at the award presentation for the fictional Sarah Siddons Society. Addison DeWitt opens the film with these explanatory lines: "The Sarah Siddons Award for Distinguished Achievement is perhaps unknown to you. It has been spared the sensational and commercial publicity that attends such questionable 'honors' as the Pulitzer Prize and those awards presented annually by the film society... However it is important that you know where you are, and why you are here. This is the dining room of the Sarah Siddons Society. The occasion is its annual banquet and presentation of the highest honor our Theater knows - the Sarah Siddons Award for Distinguished Achievement."
These lines were penned by writer and director Joseph L. Mankiewicz, winner of the Oscar for Best Director for All About Eve, who later commented extensively on the Sarah Siddons Society created upon his satirical invention: "It's first recipient, in 1953, was none other than Helen Hayes ... and of late, of all people, Celeste Holm. I can't help wondering whether Celeste had a feeling of Deja vu. Or whether she placed it alongside the 'Sarah Siddons Award' I gave her when we finished the film... She probably threw out that old original fake. I hope she keeps the new fake fake. I wish long life to both the 'Sarah Siddons Society' and to its 'Award', believe me. They will provide for me an annual and infinitely gratifying reaffirmation of what All About Eve was really about" (Joseph Mankiewicz Interviews, p. 123). It is known that Mankiewicz retained a film used Sarah Siddons Award and that it graced his mantelpiece alongside his four Oscars until the end of his life.
To this day, the awards given by the non-profit Sarah Siddons Society remain prestigious and the past winners form a who's who of legendary American stage actors. Early winners included Helen Hayes, Beatrice Lillie, Deborah Kerr, Geraldine Page, Carol Channing and Myrna Loy; since Celeste Holm's 1967 award winners have included Lauren Bacall, Liza Minelli, Faye Dunaway, Bernadette Peters, Julie Andrews, Patti LuPone, Bebe Neuwirth and Sutton Foster. An honorary Sarah Siddons Society Award was presented to All About Eve co-star Bette Davis in 1973, although she did not star in a Chicago production.
We trace few Sarah Siddons Society Awards at auction and those sold have also related to the film: a prop award gifted from Bette Davis to Robert Osborne was sold in 2018; Mankiewicz's was sold in 2017; and a damaged prop award was sold in 2015. Celeste Holm's Sarah Siddons Society Award not only recognizes her excellence as a stage actress but is also highly evocative of the spirit of the award as envisioned by Mankiewicz in All About Eve.
C The Celeste Holm Collection
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