Asked during her press conference if her husband Michael Douglas, Hasty Pudding Man of the Year 1992, had given her any advice about how to comport herself during her own ceremonial ordeal, Catherine Zeta-Jones, the 2005 Woman of the Year, replied: “‘Whatever they do, just give it right back to them, honey.’” And give it back to them she did. The vivacious, raven-tressed star of “The Haunting,” “Traffic,” and “Chicago” handled the challenges presented to her by Pudding officers Mathew Ferrante ’05 and Sam Gale Rosen ’06 with an earthy panache worthy of Elena Montero, the character she played in her breakthrough movie “The Mask of Zorro.”
Asked if she would be willing to undergo a series of tests to determine whether she was worthy of winning the award, she said, “I’d rather do that in private,” and led Rosen and Ferrante offstage. She returned a few moments later, trailed by the two young men, who looked a bit dazed and disheveled. “Whoo!” Zeta-Jones exclaimed. “I knew you’d be good, but not that good.”
Zeta-Jones was then subjected to a lie detector test, which she failed when she said that her husband was the sexiest man ever to win the Pudding Pot.
“The answer, of course, is James Cagney,” said Ferrante. Cagney won the award in 1982.
Zeta-Jones next had to charm a man in a pink poodle costume, a reference to the film “Intolerable Cruelty,” in which her character’s poodle played a key role in her relationship with George Clooney. Zeta-Jones was told that even though it was a French poodle, she had to speak to him in Welsh, “the real language of love.” The Welsh-born Zeta-Jones fulfilled the request with admirable fluency. “Thank you,” said the poodle in a Pepé Le Pew-like accent. “You are a dog’s best friend.”
Zeta-Jones next sang a parody of a song from “Chicago,” fought a duel with a masked Zorro (which caused Rosen and Ferrante inexplicably to drop their trousers), and finally navigated through a high-tech laser security grid (a webbed red string on a hockey goal).
Accepting the pot, Zeta-Jones thanked her hosts, then gave them back a final saucy jab: “I’m happy to be here at Harvard. It’s good to know you’re not that bright, and that you don’t have one ounce of class. I’m glad that I’ve been able to sprinkle a little bit of it throughout your Yard.”