White House Correspondents' Dinner through the years

  • The presidents anger translator, Luther, as portrayed by comedian Keegan-Michael Key, gestures as President Barack Obama speaks at the annual White House Correspondent’s Dinner, April 25, 2015. 
  • White House press secretary Josh Earnest stands for a photo with journalists during the White House Correspondents’ Dinner at the Washington Hilton, April 25, 2015.
  • First Lady Michelle Obama, President Barack Obama and comedian Cecily Strong of SNL chat during the annual White House Correspondent’s Dinner, April 25, 2015.
  • First Lady Michelle Obama breaks out in laughter at the annual White House Correspondent’s Dinner, May 3, 2014.
  • President Barack Obama honors outgoing Health and Human Services Sec. Kathleen Sebelius at the annual White House Correspondent’s Dinner, May 3, 2014.
  • President Barack Obama speaks during the White House Correspondents’ Dinner at the Washington Hilton Hotel, May 3, 2014.
  • Comedian Conan O’Brien holds a gavel as he speaks during the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton Hotel, on April 27, 2013, in Washington.
  • President Barack Obama reacts to a joke told by comedian Conan O’Brien during the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner on April 27, 2013 in Washington, DC.
  • Actor Kevin Spacey looks on during the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner on April 27, 2013 in Washington, DC.
  • Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus laughs with Kevin Spacey at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner on April 27, 2013 in Washington, DC.
  • President Obama high-fives late-night comic Jimmy Kimmel as Caren Bohan, a Reuters journalist and president of the White House Correspondents’ Association watches during the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner.
  • Television host Jimmy Kimmel (L) sits alongside First Lady Michelle Obama (R) during the White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington, DC, on April 28, 2012.
  • A projected image is shown on a large screen during President Barack Obama’s speech at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, April 30, 2011 in Washington, DC. The president used the image to show what a “Trump” White House might look like. 
  • First Lady Michelle Obama is flanked by President Barack Obama and comedian Jay Leno during the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, May 1, 2010.
  • President Barack Obama reacts to the comedy of Wanda Sykes as she entertains the crowd during the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner May 9, 2009.
  • First lady Michelle Obama gives a congratulatory fist bump to a scholarship awardee during the annual White House Correspondents’ Association gala dinner May 9, 2009.
  • Members of the public wait for a glimpse of celebrities as they arrive at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner on May 9, 2009.
  • President George W. Bush conducts the Marine Corps Band during the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton April 26, 2008.
  • White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove performs with comedians Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood, not in picture, at the White House Correspondents Dinner, March 28, 2007. Dancing at the back are White House correspondents.
  • Rupert Murdoch speaks with former New York City Mayor Rudy Gulian at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, April 21, 2007 in Washington, DC.
  • Comedian Stephen Colbert gestures during the White House Correspondents’ Association’s 92nd annual awards dinner, on April 29, 2006, in Washington.
  • President George W. Bush and his inner monologue, played by Steve Bridges, entertain guests at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on April 29, 2006 in Washington, DC.
  • Singer Aretha Franklin, left, gets welcomed on stage by President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton at the White House Correspondents Association dinner at the Washington Hilton in Washington, on May 1, 1999.
  • President Clinton, red in the face with laughter, wipes a tear from his eye as comedian Conan O’Brien delivered jokes at the 81st annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner, April 29, 1995.
  • U.S. President George H. Bush laughs during comedian Jim Morris’ performance at the White House Correspondents annual dinner in Washington, on April 29, 1989.
  • President Ronald Reagan watches as first lady Nancy Reagan comments from the podium during the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on April 23, 1987. The president called his wife to the podium to say a few kind words to the press, after a pause she responded, “I’m thinking.”
  • President Jimmy Carter and first lady Rosalynn Carter chat with Paul Healy, right, of the New York Daily News and Lawrence O’Rourke, left, of the Philadelphia Bulletin, April 30, 1977.
  • Golfer Bobby Jones, left, presents a duplicate of his famous putter, “Calamity Jane,” to President Ike Eisenhower, at the annual dinner of the White House Correspondents Associaton, in Washington, Oct. 12, 1959.
  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt speaks during the annual dinner of the White House Correspondents’ Association in Washington on March 15, 1941.

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The White House Correspondents’ Dinner, fondly known as Nerd Prom, is an annual gala for Washington journalists, celebrities, government officials, and the President and First Lady of the United States. Typically, a comedian takes the stage and roasts the sitting president. Past hosts include Cecily Strong, Conan O’Brien, Stephen Colbert, Wanda Sykes, and Jay Leno. 

The first dinner was held in 1921, and it was an all-male affair until 1962. At the urging of journalist Helen Thomas, President John F. Kennedy refused to attend unless the ban on women was lifted.

The event flew under the radar for the first six decades of its existence. But in 1987, the dinner made headlines when a Baltimore Sun reporter brought Fawn Hall, the secretary at the heart of the Iran-Contra scandal, as his date. 

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