And the winner is...
The Division of Culture and the Arts at the museum collects a wide variety of awards and trophies. We have iconic awards such as Oscars, Olympic medals, and Grammys that most people will recognize instantly and which frequently appear in our exhibitions. However, we also collect awards and trophies that are less widely known. As an intern within the division, it has been my pleasure to explore and research the whole array of our awards for an upcoming exhibition on American culture. In doing so, I have developed some favorite items. So here it is: my list of the top six most intriguing awards within the museum's Division of Culture and the Arts!
1) The Miss Fun Fishing Award given to Phyllis Diller, 1973
Comedian Phyllis Diller was crowned "Miss Fun Fishing" by Field and Stream magazine in 1973 "on the occasion of her selection as the first centerfold in the magazine's 78 year history." The magazine, known for being a source of tackle and trapping tips and not female centerfolds, used the photo shoot and award as a way to celebrate two forms of American entertainment: comedy and fishing. Diller joked that she was chosen as the magazine's first centerfold because she "had the same dimensions as a striped bass," and the photo featured her wearing full-body fishing waders that covered her entire legs and torso.
2) Chevron World Challenge Trophy won by Tiger Woods, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2007
Prominently featuring a ceramic tiger guarding a golf ball painted like the Earth, this trophy is awarded to the victor of the Hero World Challenge, a golf tournament started in 1999 by golfer Tiger Woods to benefit his international charity, the Tiger Woods Foundation. This particular statue was given to Woods by the tournament organization to commemorate his first four victories in the tournament (2001, 2004, 2006, and 2007). Tiger Woods also won the tournament in 2011.
The Hero World Challenge frequently changes its name based on which company is sponsoring it each particular year. When the museum acquired this trophy in 2009, the tournament was titled the Chevron World Challenge. However, it has also been titled the Williams World Challenge, the Target World Challenge, and the Northwest Mutual World Challenge throughout its history.
3) Esquire All American Band Clarinet Silver Award given to Barney Bigard, 1946
Jazz clarinetist Barney Bigard received this statue upon his selection for Esquire magazine's All American Band in 1946. A group of renowned jazz music experts voted on the members of the group, and winners performed in concert and produced an album together to be sold with a special edition of the magazine. The band was originally created in 1944 and performed as a way to boost the sale of war bonds for World War II. The silver figure upon the black base is Esquire's mascot, Esky, who is modeled after a comic drawn by E. Simms Campbell, the first black syndicated cartoonist and a prominent influence in the style of the magazine starting in the 1930s.
4) Best Howdy Doody Look-Alike Award won by William "Billy" Oltman, 1950
This trophy was awarded to William "Billy" Oltman in 1950 as a result of a promotional contest put on by NBC to find the child who looked the most like popular TV star puppet Howdy Doody. Oltman beat out 17,230 rivals for the title and was rewarded with this trophy, a chance to be on an episode of The Howdy Doody Show, and other prizes.
5) Mystery Writers of America Edgar Awards given to Luther Davis, 1964 and 1970
These two ceramic statues are styled after the great poet and father of the American detective story, Edgar Allan Poe. The statues are examples of the award given to the recipient of the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award, the most prestigious award given to writers working in the genre of mystery. Writer Luther Davis received his first Edgar award in 1964 for his television program The End of the World and his second award in 1970 for his television movie Daughter of the Mind. The design of this iconic award has varied slightly over the years. The main detail that changes is the style of facial hair being sported by Poe's bust.
6) Tony Award bracelet won by June Lockhart, 1947
Actress June Lockhart received this Tony award in 1947 as "Most Promising Newcomer" for her performance in For Love or Money. Lockhart did not only excel in stage acting. She also became a well-loved television actress appearing in shows such as Lassie in the 1950s and Lost in Space in the 1960s. While the current Tony winners receive a silver medallion featuring comedy/tragedy masks mounted on a black base, early Tony recipients received awards such as engraved money clips and inscribed gold medallions on bracelets like this one before the official trophy was designed in 1949.
Honorable mention goes to the yo-yo won by David Jarol for his victory in a 1952 City Championship Trick Competition.
So, there you have it: one intern's opinion on the six most unusual awards in the museum's collections of entertainment and sports objects. Whether it's a ceramic bust of a deceased author or a silver cup with a large fish sprouting from its top, each of these distinctive awards and their recipients help tell the stories of American culture and represent what is important to us as the American people within their times.
Heather Glady completed a curatorial internship in the Division of Culture and the Arts.