At this year’s Emmys, Elton John won the award for outstanding live variety special, becoming the 19th person to achieve EGOT status — the prodigious title awarded to entertainers who have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony.
Since its inception in 1984, the EGOT remains the loftiest honor in the entertainment industry — and its most challenging feat. More than 3,000 Oscars have been awarded since the ceremony began in 1929. Only 33 are associated with EGOT winners.
The University of Maryland has no shortage of impressive alumni, especially within the arts and entertainment industries. That begs the question: Has the university itself ever won an EGOT? More specifically, if one were to tally up the accolades of this university’s most awarded alumni, would they complete the lauded quartet?
The first part of the EGOT acronym is the easiest for this university to complete. The university has multiple Emmy-winning alums, including two for Seinfeld co-creator Larry David, four for The Simpsons producer David Silverman and four for The Muppet Show creator Jim Henson.
Many former Terps have come close to winning gold, including five-time nominee Peter Mehlman, a writer and producer on Seinfeld, and 11-time nominee Beth McCarthy-Miller. McCarthy-Miller was nominated for 30 Rock and The Kominsky Method, as well as for her work as the third-most frequent director of Saturday Night Live.
The Corner producers David Mills and David Simon, with two Emmys apiece, and Discovery Channel producer and three-time winner Michael Olmert round out this university’s treasure trove of television talent.
Unlike this university’s abundance of recognition from the Television Academy, fewer Terps have found themselves honored at the Recording Academy’s annual Grammy awards.
In 2020, alum Tracy Young became the first female producer to win in the Best Remixed Recording category for her work on Madonna’s “I Rise (Tracy Young’s Pride Intro Radio Remix).” She received a second nomination two years later for her collaboration with k.d. lang for the track “Constant Craving (Fashionably Late Remix).”
This university’s most Grammy-decorated alumni, Cedric Dent, has racked up 21 nominations and eight wins. The baritone singer was a member of the gospel sextet Take 6 from 1985 to 2011 — a tenure that saw a White House performance for President George W. Bush and collaborations with Ray Charles, Whitney Houston and Stevie Wonder. Dent got his doctorate from this university in 1997.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has honored two University of Maryland alumni with film’s most prodigious award — with two awards coming for acting and one for visual effects.
Dianne Wiest has won two Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress during her career. Her first was for Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters in 1987. She won again for Bullets Over Broadway in 1995 — another Allen film. Her performance in 1989’s Parenthood makes her a thrice nominated actress in the category.
In 1998, Mark Lasoff became the second Terp to win an Oscar. He was honored for his work on Titanic’s visual effects as part of the film’s historic 11 Oscar sweep, which is currently tied for the most in Academy history.
However, this university won’t have to rely on its alumni alone to complete this EGOT quadrant. In 2000, Susan Hannah Hadary and William A. Whiteford of the University of Maryland Video Press won the best documentary short Oscar for their film King Gimp.
This final award takes us from Hollywood to Broadway, where this university’s alumni are no less decorated. Two Terps have been awarded for their work in stage plays and musicals, including producer Kenneth Waissman. Waissman won the Best Play Tony in 1983 for Torch Song Trilogy after two previous Best Musical nominations for his work on Grease and Over Here!.
Current associate professor emeritus Brian MacDevitt is also a five-time Tony winner across three lighting design categories. His awarded works include The Book of Mormon, The Pillowman and Into The Woods. He boasts nominations for Death of a Salesman and The Color Purple.
In the 40 years since the EGOT was established as the pinnacle of entertainment excellence, University of Maryland alums have been making their mark on the industry, garnering praise across all four corners of the performing arts.
Without a doubt, this university’s graduates have secured their alma mater a handful of completed EGOTs, and according to The Diamondback’s analysis, that makes Testudo the unofficial 20th achiever of the sought-after status.