6. Liza Minelli was the First Female Friar

Portaits of members on the wall at the Friars Club

Like almost all private social clubs of the time, when the Friar’s Club was founded in 1904, it only allowed male members. This rule would stay in place for eighty-four years until actress Liza Minelli became the first female Friar in April 1987. Her induction celebration was attended by the likes of Milton Berle, Lucille Ball, Sid Caesar, Charles Nelson Reilly, and Dick Shawn.

Before women were allowed to become members, no females were allowed into the club before 4:00pm, though they could visit as guests for dinner. They certainly were not allowed into the all-male luncheon roasts. Lauren Bacall wasn’t even invited to the roast of her husband Humphrey Bogart in 1955. Back in 1983, actress Phyllis Diller snuck into the roast for Sid Ceasar dressed as a man. In its more than 100-year history, the club has roasted only seven females, starting with Lucille Ball in 1961. Joy Behar was the first female to be Roastmaster in 1997 at Danny Aiello’s roast. The most recent female to be roasted was attorney Gloria Allred. Her roast featured an all female line-up. Today, the club boasts a long list of illustrious female members including Barbra Streisand, Candice Bergen, Diana Ross, Barbara Walters, Whoopi Goldberg, Carol Burnett, Betty White, Lily Tomlin, Debbie Reynolds, Sarah Silverman and more.