Though the term's origin resides in the realm of sports - who knew! - and football specifically where a triple-threat man could pass, kick and run with equal skill, the moniker is now handily used to describe someone whose talents in the world of entertainment include signing, dancing and acting.
While triple threats used to be more common in the heyday of big lavish studio musicals, there are still a handful of individuals who can belt it out in chart-topping numbers, pop and lock with the best of them and turn out a respectable, sometimes award-worthy, performance on the big screen. It seems these sorts are not satisfied to own it in one discipline but are striving to make their marks in various ways, sometimes even reaching mini-empire levels of success, notoriety and, of course, riches.
One such A-lister is Jennifer Lopez, whom you may recall, started her career WAY BACK in the '90s, with a suitably dated haircut and loud wardrobe, as a dancing Fly Girl on the sketch-comedy show "In Living Colour" and is now known as much for her catchy singles and her hip-shaking ways as for her acting. (And her toned body and how she chooses to dress it, or not dress it, but we digress.)
In light of her upcoming big-screen action thriller Parker, where she stars opposite genre vet Jason Statham, we thought we'd take a look at who of her contemporaries is doing as good a job holding it down on all three fronts, edging closer to that EGOT - which is winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony, thanks "30 Rock!"
Parker hits theatres January 25. Check out our interview with Jennifer Lopez, Jason Statham and director Taylor Hackford.
Check out our list of the Top 10 Triple Threats right now!
With misfires both in front of the camera (Swept Away) and behind it (W.E.), it's easy to forget the Madge of yore who did trashy-sweet with a huge dose of charm in A League of Their Own, seduced Warren Beatty in Dick Tracy and WON a Golden Globe for her work as the titular B-movie star turned first lady of Argentina in Evita. But 1996 was a long time ago indeed and though her acting career is creaky at best, her music and dancing skills continue to impress, with her 2012 album MDNA reaching Gold status in the U.S. and her live shows a three-ring circus of fierceness.
|#9 JOHN TRAVOLTA
Aging gracefully is hard, duh. And if you needed any more proof, may we present the music video for Grease co-stars John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John's cheeseball country ditty "I Think You Might Like It." (We made it to the two-minute mark.) That being said, '70s Travolta was a certified sex symbol, according to photos, all lustrous hair, strong jaw, goofy charm, silky voice and sweet disco dance moves. When his acting career took a dip in the '80s and '90s, Tarantino came to the rescue, re-establishing him as a talent. And Travolta's turns in campy fun like Hairspray proves he's still got moves, even if they're hidden beneath a muumuu and a fat suit.
|#8 MILEY CYRUS
At only 20, Miley, the progeny of "Achy Breaky" Billy Ray and Tish Cyrus, has already won fame and a fleet of tween fans for her work on the small screen as Hannah Montana, making the leap to film with Bolt in 2008, where she voiced the character of Penny, and then making her lead actress debut in 2010's The Last Song opposite now-fiance Liam Hemsworth. That same year, she dropped the album Can't Be Tamed and 2011 saw her Gypsy Heart Tour earn over $25 million. While we're not sure if anyone watched her 2012 film LOL, she continues to build her empire and remains a staple of gossip sites and fashion blogs.
|#7 MARK WAHLBERG
Even if you don't remember the Funky Bunch, their 1991 hit-single "Good Vibrations" will probably ring a bell and although Marky Mark only released two albums, it cemented him a singer-dancer with an affinity for rapping and hitting the gym, which eventually nabbed him a Calvin Klein ad campaign alongside Kate Moss. Mark Wahlberg has had about 10 careers in one, let's not forget "Entourage", the popular bro-show that used his youthful Hollywood exploits as inspiration, and these days, even if he's an actor first and foremost, it's clear he's a man of many talents.
|#6 ZAC EFRON
The 25-year-old star of the Disney Channel movie/tween phenomenon High School Musical had a few TV guest spots before his role as Troy Bolton, captain of the basketball team, earned him international recognition. Though his singing voice was overdubbed in the movie and lead some to call foul on his credits for chart-topping singles, he bounced back, and performed all his own vocals and choreographed dance moves, for Hairspray. Efron was going to follow with the remake of Footloose, but determined to spread his wings, dropped out of the musical and instead starred in a variety of movies like The Lucky One, Charlie St. Cloud and The Paperboy.
They don't call her Queen B for nothing. Beyonce Knowles is an industry unto herself, first as a singer-dancer with R&B group Destiny's Child, then as a multi-platinum selling solo artist eventually dipping her immaculately painted toe into the world of fashion (House of Dereon) and successfully venturing into acting, as silly-sexy Foxxy Cleopatra in 2002 with Austin Powers in Goldmember then mostly choosing roles that took advantage of her vocal abilities (The Fighting Temptations, Dreamgirls, Cadillac Records). Obsessed remains her first and only starring role but we can't wait to see what happens when she turns the camera on herself for her HBO doc.
|#4 HUGH JACKMAN
The ruggedly handsome Aussie is an accomplished singer who is as at home on Broadway as he is on the big screen, sporting mutton chops and adamantium claws. His musical stage career started in Melbourne in the mid-'90s, where he played Gaston in Beauty and the Beast and Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard, eventually gaining great acclaim for his work in Oklahoma! His part as Wolverine in the X-Men series introduced him to mainstream audiences but he didn't turn his back on the stage, nodding to his Broadway roots with a song and dance number alongside Anne Hathaway during a 2009 Oscar bit, embarking on a one-man show in 2011 and going on to earn his first Golden Globe for his performance in Tom Hooper's musical Les Miserables.
|#3 JULIANNE HOUGH
The professional ballroom dancer got her first taste of recognition in 2007 as the two-time champ on "Dancing with the Stars," then released a country music album in 2008 and scored her first big-screen role opposite Cher and Christina Aguilera in Burlesque. She went on to star in the 2011 remake of Footloose, sang and danced in Rock of Ages and next has her first starring role in the Nicholas Sparks' romance Safe Haven, where her acting will take centre stage.
|#2 JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE
At only 32, JT has had a very lengthy and impressive music career, dating back to his boy-band days but he waved bye bye bye - yeah I DID - to N*SYNC and said hello to an impressive, if inconsistent, acting career, scoring with early roles in Alpha Dog and Black Snake Moan. He was pitch perfect as sleazy entrepreneur and Napster founder Sean Parker in The Social Network and though his follow-ups have been rather disappointing (In Time, Friends with Benefits, Trouble with the Curve), he just released a hot new single and has a Coen Brothers movie on the horizon, so this triple threat easily slides into our number-two spot, with, we think, his best yet to come.
|#1 JENNIFER LOPEZ
La Lopez can do a Gigli and bounce back, survive multiple divorces and still smile pretty for the cameras and keep her body in dancer's form after having twins. Yes, Jenny from the Block is almost a double triple-threat at this point, adding fashion designer, movie producer, sartorial inspiration and "American Idol" judge to her impressive list of talents and continues to succeed on the Billboard charts, reimagine the music video and star alongside some of Hollywood's finest talent (Out of Sight, U Turn, The Cell, Shall We Dance, Parker). JLo is an entertainer through and through and for her, all the world is a stage.
Who else deserves to be on the list of top-drawer triple threats? Share below!
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