Here's Everything That Happened At The First Ever People's Choice Awards

Entertainment | March 3, 2020

Sammy Davis, Jr., Dyan Cannon and Mac Davis at the first Peoples Choice Awards. Source: peopleschoice.com

The first annual People's Choice Awards, held in 1975 to honor fan-favorites in movies, TV, music and sports of 1974, is a time capsule. And often, a surprising one. The How well do you remember your favorite things of 1974? It was a big year for The Sting, Kojak, Mac Davis, the Osmonds, and Billie Jean King. Get the TV trays out and pour yourself a Tab on ice, we're taking a look back at the debut of a new kind of awards show.

Picking 'Favorites,' Not 'Bests'

Source: (pinterest)

Most award shows are focused on a particular category, such as film or music, and the awards are decided by critics and people who have an expertise in that area. The People’s Choice Awards, which were created by Bob Stiver, have a much broader focus, simply celebrating people in the broad arena of entertainment. The awards are also different in that they are decided by the fans, who vote on their favorites within each category. The categories for each award have changed over the years, as entertainment has changed. That first show only featured 14 categories, while in 2017, it was up to 65, including internet categories as well.

The first People’s Choice Awards, which aired on March 3, 1975 was held in the Beverly Hilton’s International Ballroom, the venue that has hosted the Golden Globes for 50 years. Often, part of the buzz with award shows is celebrity attire and stars are often photographed on the red carpet entering the venue. For the first People’s Choice Awards, the clothing was a little less glamorous. For this first show, one of the first guests to arrive was Talia Shire with her then-husband David Shire. Talia’s dress was more casual than the usual awards show attire, a collared dress and trench coat. She had little makeup or jewelry.

The Co-hosts

Army Archerd and Richard Crenna. Source: (peopleschoice.com)

That 1975 inaugural awards show had co-hosts: Army Archerd, who was a columnist for Variety, and Richard Crenna, a television and film actor. Richard Crenna provided the opening monologue for the Awards Ceremony, explaining that he and Army Archerd would be chatting at their table throughout the show. During one of those chats, they discussed the voting process and said that there are no winners for the People’s Choice Awards, only favorites. Indeed, the awards were not chosen by a panel of judges, but decided by polls, a process that has since changed to an online voting system. Because the awards were first chosen by Gallup polls and ties were possible, there were co-recipients in three of the categories.  

The Audience Awarded The Entertainers

Sammy Davis Jr., one of the presenters. Source: (peopleschoice.com)

The difference in the award show was noticed by the winners as well. Barbra Streisand, who was the winner of the award for Favorite Motion Picture Actress and a cowinner of the award for Favorite Female Musical Performer with Olivia Newton-John expressed her gratitude after Sammy Davis Jr. recognized her as one of the winners. As Streisand said, the award came from the audience, and, according to Streisand, the audience could not be fooled.

Entertainment During The Awards

Jimmie Walker did stand-up. Source: (peopleschoice.com)

The show followed the format of many of the other awards shows, with presenters, celebrity speeches following each award, and the occasional interlude. One such interlude for this show was Jimmie Walker, comedian and actor best known for his role as J.J. on Good Times, who did a short stand up routine, joking that he was seated at the table with The Waltons.

The Presenters, Both Well Known, And Not

Jacquelyn Bisset, one of the presenters. Source: (peopleschoice.com)

In addition to Sammy Davis Jr., who joked with Jimmy Walker, saying, “Jay Jay you are dynamite,” presenters included people who were both well-known and not-so-well known, such as Jacqueline Bisset, who presented the award for Favorite Television Variety Show, Dyan Cannon (who was introduced as the “luscious Dyan Cannon”), who presented the award for Favorite Male Actor). Jimmy Cohn (who?) who presented the award for Favorite Male Singer.

The Televison Awards

Jean Stapleton and Carroll O'Connor, stars of All in the Family. Source: (npr/CBS)

The awards ranged from awards for television and movies to music to athletes. The awards for television shows were divided into three categories: Favorite Television Comedy Show, Favorite Television Dramatic Show, and Favorite Television Variety Show. Good Times and Sanford and Son were nominated for Favorite TV Comedy along with All in the Family, which won. Meanwhile Kojak and The Waltons were tied for Favorite TV Drama. The third television program to win an award, the Favorite TV Variety Program, was The Carol Burnett Show, beating out both Tony Orlando and Dawn and The Lawrence Welk Show.  

The other television awards were for the individual performers, both male and female. Mary Tyler Moore was declared the Favorite Female TV Performer. The award for the Favorite Male TV Performer was a tie between Alan Alda and Telly Savalas. The third nominee was Peter Falk who starred in Columbo in 1974.

Film Awards

Paul Newman and Robert Redford in The Sting. Source: (IMDB)

The film category was similarly divided, with awards for an actor, an actress, and the favorite film. Streisand won the award for Favorite Motion Picture Actress, her second award that night. John Wayne, who had starred in McQ in 1974, won the award for Favorite Motion Picture Actor, beating Paul Newman and Robert Redford, who had both starred in The Sting. Although neither actor who had starred in The Sting won the award for Favorite Actor, The Sting did win for Favorite Film.

Music Awards

Mac Davis. Source: (peopleschoice.com)

The People’s Choice Awards also includes musical performers, and in its first year featured awards for the favorite female, male, and group, combining musical talents from every genre, unlike more recent awards. Three men were up for the Favorite Male Singer: Elton John, John Denver, and Mac Davis. Mac Davis, who had his own variety show from 1974-1976 won the award. The Favorite Female Singer award had co-winners: Barbra Streisand and Olivia Newton-John who beat Helen Reddy. The nominees for the Favorite Musical Group were Tony Orlando and Dawn, The Osmonds, and Chicago, with the two latter groups winning the award.

All Around Award

Barbra Streisand holding one of her two awards. Source: (peopleschoice.com)

There was an additional award that seemed to straddle the categories: Favorite All Around Entertainer, for both a male and a female. Carol Burnett won the award as a female entertainer against the other nominees: Mary Tyler Moore and Barbara Streisand. Meanwhile Bob Hope won as her male counterpart. The other nominees were Johnny Carson and Sammy Davis Jr.

A Favorite For Athletes As Well

Hank Aaron, who also won a People's Choice Award. Source: (history.com)

The 1975 Awards also included a category that was not included in later ceremonies. This award was to recognize athletes: Favorite Outstanding Sports Figure. There were three nominees in the category: Hank Aaron, who broke Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1974, Joe Namath, who led the Jets to a win in the Superbowl in 1974, and Billie Jean King who founded the Women’s Sports Foundation in 1974. Hank Aaron and Joe Namath were tied for the win.

Tags: 1975 | A Brief History Of... | Carol Burnett | Mac Davis | Peoples Choice Awards | Remember This?... | The Sting

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Cyn Felthousen-Post


Cyn loves history, music, Irish dancing, college football and nature. Social media is also her thing, keeping up with trends and celebrities with positive news. She can be found outside walking or hiking with her son when she's not working. Carpe diem is her fave quote, get out there and seize the day!