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. Two other All About Eve cast members have likewise won the award -- Anne Baxter and Celeste Holm.