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A short history of the Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year awards

A look back at the leading ladies brave enough to endure Cambridge weather and onstage roasts.

Songstress Ethel Merman in 1966.
Songstress Ethel Merman in 1966.

Hidden Figures’ Octavia Spencer is the 2017 Hasty Pudding Theatricals’ Woman of the Year. She will be honored in the annual parade starting in Cambridge at 3 p.m. today. Here’s a look back at the leading ladies brave enough to endure Cambridge weather and onstage roasts.

Kerry Washington at Harvard University's Hasty Pudding Club's roast as she is named the club's Woman of the Year.
Kerry Washington at Harvard University's Hasty Pudding Club's roast as she is named the club's Woman of the Year.(Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)

Kerry Washington (2016)

“What would Olivia Pope do?” fans of Scandal love to ask. The show’s star, Kerry Washington, was the 2016 Woman of the Year. During the event’s roast, she accepted an invitation to throw a pie at a cast member dressed as then presidential candidate Donald Trump.

(Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Amy Poehler (2015)

2015’s Woman of the Year was Amy Poehler. The honor was a homecoming of sorts for the former “Parks and Recreation” star, who grew up in Burlington and attended Boston College. (Her “Parks and Rec” costar Chris Pratt received Man of the Year honors the same year.)

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(Globe File)

Gertrude Lawrence (1951)

The first Woman of the Year Award is presented to the star of “The King and I” on Broadway. The first Man of the Year Award won’t be given until 1967 (to Bob Hope).

(Globe File)

Shirley MacLaine (1963)

MacLaine receives her award 12 years before her brother, Warren Beatty, is named Man of the Year.

(Globe File)

Angela Lansbury (1968)

Lansbury is delivered to the State House, where Governor John Volpe declares March 5 “Hasty Pudding Day.”

 Liza Minnelli and her boyfriend Desi Arnez on Boylston St. in the parade to the Hasty Pudding Club. 2/21/1973 UPI Photo 18HastyPudding
Liza Minnelli and her boyfriend Desi Arnez on Boylston St. in the parade to the Hasty Pudding Club. 2/21/1973 UPI Photo 18HastyPudding (Globe File)

Liza Minnelli (1973)

The group starts its tradition of parading honorees through Harvard Square in a convertible.

2/11/1992.. Hasty Pudding - Jodie Foster waves to the crowd before being named woman of the year by the Hasty Pudding Club. At left is Hasty Pudding vice president, Bart St. Clair. (14hasty) 18HastyPudding
2/11/1992.. Hasty Pudding - Jodie Foster waves to the crowd before being named woman of the year by the Hasty Pudding Club. At left is Hasty Pudding vice president, Bart St. Clair. (14hasty) 18HastyPudding (Globe File)

Jodie Foster (1992)

During the traditional private Q&A with Hasty Pudding members, they get a nice perk: Foster stays up half the night chatting with them.

 Whoopi Goldberg is paraded through Harvard Sq. before receiving the Hasty Pudding Woman of t he Year Honors. Bill Greene / Globe Staff Photographer 2/16/1993 18HastyPudding
Whoopi Goldberg is paraded through Harvard Sq. before receiving the Hasty Pudding Woman of t he Year Honors. Bill Greene / Globe Staff Photographer 2/16/1993 18HastyPudding (Globe File)

Whoopi Goldberg (1993)

Goldberg is surprised to get the award, she says, because she’d always thought of Harvard as “a bastion of Caucasian-ness.”

FEBRUARY 20, 2000: CAMBRIDGE: Actress Jamie Lee Curtis, the Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year, rides in parade through Harvard Sq. GLOBE STAFF PHOTO/JOHN BLANDING STORY/NAMES & FACES living library tag 02112000 14hasty 18HastyPudding
FEBRUARY 20, 2000: CAMBRIDGE: Actress Jamie Lee Curtis, the Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year, rides in parade through Harvard Sq. GLOBE STAFF PHOTO/JOHN BLANDING STORY/NAMES & FACES living library tag 02112000 14hasty 18HastyPudding (Globe File)

Jamie Lee Curtis (2000)

Egged on to do her “horror movie scream” from “Halloween,” Curtis promptly blows out the theater’s sound system.

Actress Catherine Zeta Jones does the "funky chicken" dance before being honored as Hasty Pudding Theatricals' Woman of the Year, at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts February 10, 2005. Hasty Pudding Theatricals honors an actor and actress each year with a humorous roast and a pudding pot. REUTERS/Brian Snyder ORG XMIT: BKS05D 14hasty 18HastyPudding
Actress Catherine Zeta Jones does the "funky chicken" dance before being honored as Hasty Pudding Theatricals' Woman of the Year, at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts February 10, 2005. Hasty Pudding Theatricals honors an actor and actress each year with a humorous roast and a pudding pot. REUTERS/Brian Snyder ORG XMIT: BKS05D 14hasty 18HastyPudding (Globe File)

Catherine Zeta-Jones (2005)

The parade is canceled for the first time in more than 30 years due to inclement weather. Bad weather also nixes Julianne Moore’s in 2011.

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Cambridge, MA 2/16/06 Halle Berry riding with students dressed in drag through Harvard Square Thursday, February 16, 2006. Berry is the 2006 Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year. Erik Jacobs for the Boston Globe Carol Ann Beggy 18HastyPudding
Cambridge, MA 2/16/06 Halle Berry riding with students dressed in drag through Harvard Square Thursday, February 16, 2006. Berry is the 2006 Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year. Erik Jacobs for the Boston Globe Carol Ann Beggy 18HastyPudding (Globe File)

Halle Berry (2006)

The Oscar-winning star is made to write “I will not make “Catwoman II” on a blackboard four times.

01/30/14: Cambridge, MA: Academy Award winning actress Dame Helen Mirren was honored as the 2014 Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year by the Harvard University organization. She is pictured as she rides through the streets of Cambridge during the parade with Tony Oblen (left), President of the Hasty Pudding, and Ethan Hardy (right), Cast Vice President. (Globe Staff Photo/Jim Davis) section:names topic: 31hastypuddingtheatricals 18HastyPudding
01/30/14: Cambridge, MA: Academy Award winning actress Dame Helen Mirren was honored as the 2014 Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year by the Harvard University organization. She is pictured as she rides through the streets of Cambridge during the parade with Tony Oblen (left), President of the Hasty Pudding, and Ethan Hardy (right), Cast Vice President. (Globe Staff Photo/Jim Davis) section:names topic: 31hastypuddingtheatricals 18HastyPudding (Globe File)

Helen Mirren (2014)

A video of the onstage twerking by 68-year-old Dame Mirren will later proceed to nearly break the Internet.

4/3/1966.. Hasty Pudding - Songstress Ethel Merman, center, voted "Woman of the Year" by Harvard University's Hasty Pudding Club, visits backstage last night at the opening of the group's new show, "Right Up Your Alley," at the Fashion Institute in New York. Chorus "girls" are , from left: Frank Reese and Billy Mason, Boston; Tom Oliphant, La Jolla, Calif.; Peter Voysey, Chicago; Lorenzo Weisman, Guatemala City, and Roger Kozol, Newton, Mass. (14hasty) hastypuddingtimeline
4/3/1966.. Hasty Pudding - Songstress Ethel Merman, center, voted "Woman of the Year" by Harvard University's Hasty Pudding Club, visits backstage last night at the opening of the group's new show, "Right Up Your Alley," at the Fashion Institute in New York. Chorus "girls" are , from left: Frank Reese and Billy Mason, Boston; Tom Oliphant, La Jolla, Calif.; Peter Voysey, Chicago; Lorenzo Weisman, Guatemala City, and Roger Kozol, Newton, Mass. (14hasty) hastypuddingtimeline (Globe File)

What’s with the drag?

When the Hasty Pudding Theatricals put on their first show, on Friday, December 13, 1844, Harvard was still all male, so female roles were played by men in costume. Although women are now involved in every other aspect of the production , the young men in drag still fill the stage.


Sources: Hasty Pudding Theatricals, James Patrick Fitzpatrick