The Oscar Hosts

The lowdown on this year's compere, Jon Stewart, plus a list of every Oscar host ever!

Despite years of experience hosting shows (most notably TV’s The Daily Show), Jon Stewart never quite seemed at home on the Oscar stage in 2006. And though he managed moments of real comedy – such as commenting on Three 6 Mafia’s Oscar win versus Martin Scorsese’s then statuette-free status, or his opening video montage – he never connected with the audience, was skewered by most critics and brought the ceremony some unhealthy ratings.

He’s at a bit of a disadvantage this year, since he hasn’t had his writers around to help him prepare until this week.

But never fear! We've got a feeling that Stewart will take his previous stint as a learning experience and come out fresh and fighting. Because of the WGA strike, he’s spent the last couple of months working on most of The Daily Show’s material himself, so he's certainly got a bit of adrenaline running through his veins.

And he's spent enough time in the industry learning how to make the best of a bad situation.

After holding various jobs, including children’s puppeteer, caterer and busboy (he named his production company Busboy Productions in honour of his early work), Stewart moved to New York in 1986 to try his hand at stand-up comedy, getting his start at The Bitter End. It held special meaning for him as his comedy idol, Woody Allen, launched his own career there.

After bouncing from club to club, he got a job on the writing staff of Caroline’s Comedy Hour in 1989, then graduated to US network Comedy Central’s Short Attention Span Theatre. Work with MTV followed, and in 1993, Stewart was briefly considered to replace David Letterman when he left NBC – but former Simpsons writer and legendary giant Conan O’Brien got the gig instead.

The rejection didn’t set him back – he developed his own talk show at MTV, which matured into a big hit for the network, placing second in the ratings behind Beavis And Butt-Head.

But it was in 1999 that Stewart’s career really soared, when he was chosen to replace Craig Kilborn as the host of The Daily Show. Switching the show’s focus to political matters and smarter humour has been a huge success for the show and made it one of the most talked-about TV series. It’s garnered numerous awards for writing and even a prestigious Peabody Award. Stewart has also hosted the Grammy Awards and appeared (though he usually chooses to forget or make fun of his work) in several films, including Death To Smoochy, The Faculty, Big Daddy, and Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back.

Cynical folks might suggest that with that back catalogue, his only shot at attending the Oscars would be to present them - but we're not quite that mean.

We love a second-chance story, and we'll be there on the night, fingers crossed, hoping Stewart manages to translate his Daily Show form to the Oscar stage.

2008 Jon Stewart
2007 Ellen DeGeneres
2006 Jon Stewart
2005 Chris Rock
2004 Billy Crystal
2003 Steve Martin
2002 Whoopi Goldberg
2001 Steve Martin
2000 Billy Crystal
1999 Whoopi Goldberg
1998 Billy Crystal
1997 Billy Crystal
1996 Whoopi Goldberg
1995 David Letterman
1994 Whoopi Goldberg
1993 Billy Crystal
1992 Billy Crystal
1991 Billy Crystal
1990 Billy Crystal
1989 no host
1988 Chevy Chase
1987 Chevy Chase, Goldie Hawn, Paul Hogan
1986 Alan Alda, Jane Fonda, Robin Williams
1985 Jack Lemmon
1984 Johnny Carson
1983 Liza Minnelli, Dudley Moore, Richard Pryor, Walter Matthau
1982 Johnny Carson
1981 Johnny Carson
1980 Johnny Carson
1979 Johnny Carson
1978 Bob Hope
1977 Warren Beatty, Ellen Burstyn, Jane Fonda, Richard Pryor
1976 Goldie Hawn, Gene Kelly, Walter Matthau, George Segal, Robert Shaw
1975 Sammy Davis Jr., Bob Hope, Shirley MacLaine, Frank Sinatra
1974 John Huston, David Niven, Burt Reynolds, Diana Ross
1973 Carol Burnett, Michael Caine, Charlton Heston, Rock Hudson
1972 Helen Hayes, Alan King, Sammy Davis Jr, Jack Lemmon
1971 no host
1970 no host
1969 no host
1968 Bob Hope
1967 Bob Hope
1966 Bob Hope
1965 Bob Hope
1964 Jack Lemmon, Tom Jones
1963 Frank Sinatra
1962 Bob Hope
1961 Bob Hope
1960 Bob Hope
1959 Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis, David Niven, Laurence Olivier, Mort Sahl, Tony Randall
1958 James Stewart, David Niven, Jack Lemmon, Rosalind Russell, Bob Hope
1957 Jerry Lewis, Celeste Holm
1956 Jerry Lewis, Claudette Colbert
1955 Bob Hope, Thelma Ritter
1954 Donald O'Connor, Fredric March
1953 Bob Hope, Conrad Nagel
1952 Danny Kaye
1951 Fred Astaire
1950 Paul Douglas
1949 Robert Montgomery
1948 no host
1947 Jack Benny
1946 Bob Hope, James Stewart
1945 John Cromwell, Bob Hope
1944 Jack Benny
1943 Bob Hope
1942 Wendell Willkie
1941 Walter Wanger
1940 Bob Hope
1939 Frank Capra
1938 Bob Burns
1937 George Jessel
1936 Frank Capra
1935 Irvin S Cobb
1934 Will Rogers
1932 Conrad Nagel
1931 Lawrence Grant
1930 Conrad Nagel
1930 William C de Mille
1929 Douglas Fairbanks, William C de Mille