Denzel Washington, this year’s recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award, kept his remarks short. “I forgot my speech,” he laughed. Then he had trouble reading it. “I need my glasses,” he laughed. “I’m speechless.”
Recalling his first of three Golden Globe Awards, he said that his producer, Freddie Fields, predicted that he was going to win it that year – and he did. Referring to the poverty of his childhood, he got choked up when he thanked his mother “for convincing my father that we needed more than 25-watt bulbs.”
In a rare move, he brought his entire family on stage – all but his son Malcolm, who’s preparing his thesis at AFI. “He will give you a job one day,” he told the crowd.
Tom Hanks, who introduced him to a standing ovation, described Denzel as “a peer and equal of all the greatest legends of our craft.”
Washington becomes only the third African American to ever be given the award, following that of Sidney Poitier in 1982 and Morgan Freeman in 2012.
Past recipients of the award include some of the biggest names in the history of show business, including Frank Sinatra, John Wayne, Judy Garland, Henry Fonda, Sophia Loren, Fred Astaire, Elizabeth Taylor, Bob Hope, Barbra Steisand, Bing Crosby, Jimmy Stewart, Gregory Peck, Laurence Olivier, Lucille Ball, Barbara Stanwyck, Bette Davis, Gene Kelly, Sidney Poitier, Joan Crawford, Charlton Heston, Audrey Hepburn, Paul Newman, Kirk Douglas, Anthony Quinn, Jack Nicholson, Clint Eastwood, Jack Lemmon, Morgan Freeman, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Woody Allen, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Walt Disney, Martin Scorsese, and Cecile B. DeMille himself.