A question in the last series of “Only Connect”, BBC2’s fiendish weekly quiz show, was right up my alley and has been on my mind ever since. It listed the four artists who have reached #1 in the UK charts and also won an acting Oscar (Best Actor or Best Actress). Can you think of them? I might have worked them out, given enough time, but the question was about finding connections between the four artists as each name appeared. Take your time; the answers appear further down in this piece.
Pop music and movies are two categories that I have a chance with on “Only Connect”. There are topics that are so obscure I don’t have a chance (Instagram filters, for instance) but anything related to Oscar winners or UK chart-toppers gives me a fighting chance. There have been two occasions when I have confidently predicted the fourth in a sequence when only given the first clue. Anyone who does this on the show wins five points for their team, the most available for a single answer. On the first occasion the clue was “Get Back” (5). The second time the clue was “The Informer” (1935). I’ll resist the temptation to give you the answers, and the rest of each sequence, in another post. That information also appears further down the page.
First, though, here are the Oscar winners who have also reached the top of the UK charts. Look away now if you’re still trying to think of them and come back when you’re ready. I am writing this from memory so the artist names might not appear in the same order they appeared in the original show. They are in the order that each artist won their acting Oscar.
Ready? Here they are.
- Lee Marvin (Best Actor 1965 for “Cat Ballou”, #1 in 1970 with “Wand’rin’ Star”)
- Barbra Streisand (Best Actress 1968 for “Funny Girl”, #1 in 1980 with “Woman in Love”)
- Cher (Best Actress 1987 for “Moonstruck”, solo #1 in 1998 with “Believe”)
- Nicole Kidman (Best Actress 2002 for “The Hours”, #1 in 2001 with “Something’ Stupid”, with Robbie Williams)
Next up are the answers to the sequences that begin with the clues “Get Back” 5 and “The Informer” 1935).
“Get Back” (5)
The fourth in the sequence beginning “Get Back” (5) is “Ebony and Ivory” (2). The number after the song title indicates the number of performers on a #1 song featuring Paul McCartney. The second in the sequence could be “Help!” (4) and the third is “Mull of Kintyre” (3). “Get Back” is credited to The Beatles with Billy Preston (5 performers), “Help” (or “She loves you”, “I feel fine”, “From me to you” or more than a dozen other songs) is by The Beatles (4 performers) and “Mull of Kintyre” is by Wings (a band of 3). “Ebony and Ivory” is credited to Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder, Macca’s only duet to top the charts in the UK. If there were a fifth number in the sequence it would be “Pipes of Peace” (1). Famously, for trivia fiends, Paul McCartney is the only artist to have had Number Ones as part of a 5-piece, a 4-piece, a trio, a duet and as a solo artist.
“The Informer” (1935)
The fourth in the sequence beginning “The Informer” (1935) is “The Quiet Man” (1952). These are the four films for which John Ford won the Best Director Oscar, in chronological order. He also won for “Grapes of Wrath” (1940) and “How Green was my Valley?” (1941).
I can hardly express how much pleasure these quiz questions brought me. I hope that you like them too.
There is at least one other artist who has won an acting Oscar and reached #1 in the UK Charts: Frank Sinatra, but his Academy Award was as Best Supporting Actor (“From Here to Eternity”, 1953) rather than as Best Actor. His two UK #1s were “Three Coins In The Fountain” (1954) and “Strangers in the Night” (1966).