The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) is the labor union representing film actors in the United States. The guild guarantees members a minimum daily wage on union productions ("scale") and handles payment of residuals. Since 1995 the guild has also selected members for the Screen Actors Guild Award.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Beyond the major studios
3 SAG Awards
4 See also
5 External links and sources


In 1925, the Masquers club was formed by actors fed up with the grueling work hours at the Hollywood studios, particularly for actors without contracts, who felt the brunt of cost-cutting measures during the Great Depression.

This was one major concern which led to the creation of the Screen Actors Guild in 1933. Another was that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which at that time arbitrated between the producers and actors on contract disputes, had a membership policy which was by-invitation-only.

A meeting in March 1933 among six actors started it all: Berton Churchill, Charles Miller, Grant Mitchell, Ralph Morgan, Alden Gay Thomson, and Kenneth Thomson. Three months later, three of those six and eighteen others became the guild's first officers and board of directors: Ralph Morgan (its first president), Alden Gay, Kenneth Thomson, Alan Mowbray (who personally funded the organization when it was first founded), Leon Ames, Tyler Brooke, Clay Clement, James Gleason, Lucile Webster Gleason, Boris Karloff (reportedly influenced by long hours suffered during the filming of Frankenstein), Claude King, Noel Madison, Reginald Mason , Bradley Page, Willard Robertson, Ivan Simpson, C. Aubrey Smith, Charles Starrett, Richard Tucker, Arthur Vinton, and Morgan Wallace.

Many high-profile actors refused to join SAG initially. This changed when the producers made an agreement amongst themselves to not to bid competitively for talent. A pivotal meeting at the home of Frank Morgan (brother of Ralph who would go on to play the role of the wizard in The Wizard of Oz), is what gave SAG its critical mass, figuratively speaking. Prompted by Eddie Cantor's insistence at that meeting that any response to that producer's agreement help all actors, not just the already established ones, it took only three weeks for SAG membership to go from around 80 members to more than 4000. Cantor's participation was critical, particularly because of his friendship with the recently-elected Franklin Roosevelt. After several years and the passage of the National Labor Relations Act, the producers agreed to negotiate with SAG in 1937.

Actors known for their early support of SAG (besides the founders) include Edward Arnold, Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Dudley Digges, Porter Hall, Paul Harvey, Jean Hersholt, Russell Hicks, Murray Kinnell, Gene Lockhart, Fredric March, Adolphe Menjou, Chester Morris, Jean Muir, George Murphy, Erin O'Brien-Moore, Irving Pichel, Dick Powell, Edward G. Robinson, Edwin Stanley, Gloria Stuart, Franchot Tone, Warren William, and Robert Young.

Beyond the major studios

SAG members may not work on non-union productions without special dispensation; many film schools have waiver agreements with the guild to allow SAG actors to work free of charge in student films.

SAGIndie was formed in 1997; its standard contracts are meant to encourage the use of SAG members in films produced outside of the major studios. Some provisions of those contracts are still controversial:

Any distribution beyond film festivals requires that the producer contact the Guild, obtain each professional performer's consent, and negotiate compensation for any further distribution. [1]

SAG Awards

SAG Awards have been one of the major awards events in
Hollywood since 1995. Nominations for the awards come from 4200 randomly selected members of the union, with the full membership (98,000 as of 2004) available to vote for the winners. The awards have been televised for the past several years on TNT.

Awards are organized into the following categories:

Film Awards

  • Performance Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
  • Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
  • Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
  • Performance Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
  • Performance Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

Television Awards

  • Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
  • Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
  • Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
  • Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
  • Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
  • Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
  • Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
  • Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series

See also

External links and sources