Thank God we have the Tonys to reward kickass people who, for some reason, miss out on winning an Academy Award for reasons beyond everyone’s control. Here are eight times the Tonys awarded a legendary movie actress who never collected gold for her onscreen work. And look: I’ve ranked them for the hell of it!
8. Jane Alexander
She scared up a Tony by taking her Oscar-nominated role in The Great White Hope to Broadway, but Jane Alexander’s consummate chops deserve kudos in just about every performance. Loved her in all four of her Oscar-nominated performances, which include Kramer Vs. Kramer, All the Presidents Men, and the deeeeply underrated Testament. Hell, I love her on The Good Wife as a no-nonsense judge.
7. Viola Davis
Oh, I think we haven’t heard the last of Viola Davis‘ Oscar story, but for now she’s the exceptionally talented thespian who lost an Oscar — in a bit of an upset, actually — to Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady. No matter: She has two Tonys for her work in two of August Wilson’s “Pittsburgh cycle” plays, King Hedley II and Fences. By the way, am I missing something here: Why aren’t August Wilson’s plays ever turned into movies? The Piano Lesson would be an awesome movie. Starring Viola Davis. Now.
6. Thelma Ritter
It stuns me that Thelma Ritter could rack up six Oscar nominations, yet none of them were for Rear Window, in which she gives one of the definitive supporting comic performances in cinema. Her Tony win is a strange anomaly, since she won in a tie with New Girl in Town costar Gwen Verdon, who I believe has over 700 Tonys (checking the actual number now — OK, four). Ritter is the saltiest of our great spitfire actresses, and I’m glad she collected at least half a trophy in her lifetime.
5. Joan Allen
Joan Allen hit the award circuit fast track by netting a Tony for her Broadway debut in Burn This, a great Lanford Wilson play about his specialty topic of gay identity and relationships, but wonderful Allen’s cinematic output hasn’t turned up gold yet. Forget her unfulfilled Oscar nominations for Nixon, The Crucible, and The Contender: Where’s the love for Pleasantville and The Ice Storm? Fun Joan Allen fact: Did you know she has starred opposite Jeremy Irons in two art-themed productions, including the Lifetime Network biopic Georgia O’Keeffe and the play Impressionism? No? Good.