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So Jon Stewart will host the Oscars this year. Hosting the Oscars solo is a little like climbing Everest: the idea of doing it is always there, taunting America's elite comedians and raconteurs. Some, like Bob Hope, can beat it — 12 times he hosted alone, and more times with helpers tagging along. Others end up like Beck Weathers and David Letterman, beaten and barely alive, knowing they'll never do it again. But the challenge to climb it remains, irresistable, until the opportunity is seized. Many who've tried have passed into that good night. Stewart, we love ya: please bring a sherpa.

Solo Oscar hosts:
Bob Hope (1940, '43, '53, '55, '60-'62, '65-'68, '78) - and lived to be 100
Billy Crystal (1990-93, '97-'98, 2000, '04) - odds are he'll sneak into this one, too
Johnny Carson (1979-82, '84) (RIP) - gave Marlon Brando's best actor award to Sacheen Littlefeather
Whoopie Goldberg (1994, '96, '99, 2002) - really. four times.
Steve Martin (2001, 2003) - twice, after being born a poor black child
Jerry Lewis (1956-57) - Jerry Lewis in '07!
Jack Benny (1944, '47) - not bad, Benjamin Kubelsky
Frank Capra (1936, '39) - it's a wonderful life
Conrad Nagel (1930, '32) - a founder of the Academy
Chris Rock - he did great last year
David Letterman - crash. burn.
Chevy Chase - his real name is Cornelius. No wonder he became a comedian.
Jack Lemmon (RIP)
Frank Sinatra (RIP) check out his co-host lineup in 1975 after the jump
Paul Douglas (RIP)
Fred Astaire (RIP)
Danny Kaye (RIP)
Donald O'Connor (RIP)
Will Rogers (RIP)
Robert Mongomery (RIP)
Wendell Willkie (RIP)
Walter Wanger (RIP)
William C. deMille (RIP)
George Jessel (RIP)
Bob Burns (RIP)
Lawrence Grant (RIP)
Irvin S. Cobb (RIP)

Multiple-host years after the jump.

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1987: Chevy Chase, Goldie Hawn, Paul Hogan - (geez -- Paul Hogan?)
1986: Alan Alda, Jane Fonda, Robin Williams - (go on, say it: good morning, Vietnam-slash-Korea!)
1985: Candice Bergen, Jeff Bridges, Glenn Close, Michael Douglas, Gregory Hines (RIP), William Hurt, Amy Irving, Diana Ross, Tom Selleck, Kathleen Turner - woah. ick.
1983: Liza Minnelli, Dudley Moore (RIP), Richard Pryor (RIP), Walter Matthau (RIP) - if we were Liza, we'd be worried
1977: Richard Pryor (RIP), Jane Fonda, Ellen Burstyn, Warren Beatty
1976: Walter Matthau RIP), Robert Shaw (RIP), George Segal, Goldie Hawn, Gene Kelly (RIP)
1975: Sammy Davis Jr. (RIP), Bob Hope (RIP), Shirley MacLaine, Frank Sinatra (RIP) (now that's a show!)
1974: John Huston (RIP), Diana Ross, Burt Reynolds, David Niven (RIP)
1973: Carol Burnett, Michael Caine, Charlton Heston, Rock Hudson (RIP)
1972: Helen Hayes (RIP), Alan King (RIP), Sammy Davis Jr. (RIP), Jack Lemmon (RIP)
1969: Ingrid Bergman (RIP), Diahann Carroll, Tony Curtis, Jane Fonda, Burt Lancaster (RIP), Walter Matthau (RIP), Sidney Poitier, Rosalind Russell (RIP), Frank Sinatra (RIP), Natalie Wood (RIP)
1959: Bob Hope (RIP), Jerry Lewis (RIP), David Niven (RIP), Sir Laurence Olivier (RIP), Tony Randall (RIP), Mort Sahl
1958: Bob Hope, Jack Lemmon, David Niven, Rosalind Russell, James Stewart (all RIP) and Donald Duck (on film) - thank goodness that the Academy notes Donald Duck was on film. We were really worried he showed up for reals -- he never wears pants.
1946: Bob Hope, Jimmy Stewart (both RIP)
1945: Bob Hope, John Cromwell (father of James from LA Confidential & Six Feet Under) (both RIP)
1929: Douglas Fairbanks, William C. deMille (both RIP)