The Sarah Siddons Society is an American non-profit organization founded in 1952 by prominent Chicago theatre patrons with the goal of promoting excellence in the theatre. The Society presents the Sarah Siddons Award annually to an actor for an outstanding performance in a Chicago theatrical production. The winner receives a statuette of the Welsh stage actress Sarah Siddons (1755–1831).
The award stems from the fictional award referred to in the opening scene of the 1950 Joseph L. Mankiewicz film All About Eve. The film opens with the image of an award trophy, described by character Addison DeWitt (George Sanders) as the "highest honour our theater knows: the Sarah Siddons Award for Distinguished Achievement." The award was invented by Mankiewicz for the script. In 1952 a small group of eminent Chicago theater-goers, including Mrs. Loyal Davis, mother of future First Lady Nancy Davis Reagan, began to give an award physically modeled and named after the one in the film. In 1973, during the Sarah Siddons Society Anniversary Gala, an honorary Sarah Siddons award was presented to Bette Davis, even though she didn't appear in a Chicago play that year. Another All About Eve cast member, Celeste Holm, had previously won the award. Lauren Bacall, who played Davis' role in the Broadway musical version, Applause, has also won.
In addition to the award, the society also funds a number of scholarships for theatre and other performance university students in the Chicago area. Beginning in 2013, the society has partnered with the Chicago Humanities Festival to expose young students from disadvantaged backgrounds to live performances.
Actress/Actor of the Year (chronologically):