Emmys – the most memorable moments of years past | Gallery
6:31am PDT, Sep 19, 2021
The 2021 Emmy Awards air on Sept. 19! In honor of the annual celebration of television’s best, Wonderwall.com is taking a look back at some of the award show’s all-time most buzzed-about moments, starting with this one… What were they thinking?! An overalls-clad Donald Trump carried a pitchfork as he inexplicably joined Megan Mullally — in character as her “Will & Grace” alter ego, Karen — on stage during the 2006 Emmys for a duet of the “Green Acres” theme song.
Now keep reading for more!
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A “Schitt’s Creek” landslide! During the unconventional 2020 Emmys, the cast of “Schitt’s Creek” gathered at a watch party in Ontario, Canada. Despite being so far from Hollywood, the show proved it was a force to be reckoned with as it quickly made history by sweeping the top seven comedy categories: all four acting awards — which had never been done by a comedy series before — plus the writing and directing categories, according to TheWrap.
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Viola Davis made history during the 2015 Emmys when she became the first Black woman to win the award for outstanding lead actress in a drama series. “The only thing that separates women of color from anything else is opportunity,” she said in her powerful acceptance speech, during which she thanked fellow Black actresses Taraji P. Henson, Gabrielle Union and Kerry Washington for having “redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be Black.”
In 2001 Ellen DeGeneres hosted the big event. The Emmys were postponed twice that year following the 9/11 terror attacks and the start of the War in Afghanistan. “It’s important for us to be here,” said Ellen, who donned a replica of Bjork’s iconic Oscars swan dress during the telecast. “They can’t take away our creativity, our striving for excellence, our joy.” The comedian earned raves for handling her hosting duties with poise and humor.
Here she is, Miss Emmy! During the 2011 telecast, the nominees for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series — Tina Fey, Martha Plimpton, Melissa McCarthy, Amy Poehler, Edie Falco and Laura Linney — spoofed beauty pageants in a hilarious bit reportedly masterminded by Amy, who was nominated for her work on “Parks and Recreation.” Each nominee went up to the stage, where she shared congratulatory hugs and linked hands in a show of solidarity à la beauty pageant contestants, as presenters Rob Lowe and Sofia Vergara read their names. Rob literally crowned Melissa McCarthy the winner with a pageant-worthy tiara and a bouquet of roses as her peers encircled her with hugs.
Merritt Wever delivered the most endearingly brief acceptance speech in Emmy history when she took the stage in 2013 to pick up the award for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series for her work on “Nurse Jackie.” “Thanks so much. Thank you so much. Um, I gotta go, bye,” she said before rushing off the stage. We may not have known Merritt before her short-and-sweet acceptance speech, but we certainly did after!
“This is for all the fat girls,” Camryn Manheim memorably declared while accepting the award for outstanding supporting actress in a drama series for her work on “The Practice” during the 1998 Emmys.
There was definitely love in the air during the 2018 Emmys! After winning the award for outstanding directing for a variety special for his work helming the Oscars, Glenn Weiss took a moment to propose to his girlfriend, Jan Svendsen, live on stage. “This is the ring that my dad put on my mom’s finger 67 years ago.” he said. “Will you marry me?” She, of course, said yes — and the crowd loved it!
There are two Emmys in Sarah Jessica Parker’s trophy case, but the ballerina-inspired Oscar de la Renta frock she donned during the 2000 show was far from award-worthy. Like it or not, the “Sex and the City” star’s major fashion flop has since become one of the most iconic red carpet moments in Emmy history.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus made history at the 2017 Primetime Emmys! When the star hit the stage to accept the prize for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series for her work on “Veep,” she became the actor with the most Emmy wins for a single role! The year prior, she tied Candice Bergen, who’d won five times for her work on “Murphy Brown,” but 2017 saw Julia win her sixth trophy for her “Veep” role. That win was also her eighth of all time, which tied her with Cloris Leachman, who held the record for most Primetime Emmy wins by a single actor.
Though it wasn’t her longtime love Holland Taylor, Sarah Paulson brought the perfect date along to the 2016 Emmys — Marcia Clark! That year the actress was up for an award for portraying the famous attorney on “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” so she brought Marcia along for the fun! Even host Jimmy Kimmel had to admit she won the award for having the best “plus one.” And it ended up that Marcia also served as a good-luck charm — Sarah took home the Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a limited series or movie that night!
Calista Flockhart raised eyebrows during the 1998 Emmys when she walked the red carpet looking scary skinny in a size 2 Richard Tyler dress. The super-thin “Ally McBeal” actress, who was nominated for her first Emmy that year, faced rampant speculation that she was suffering from an eating disorder. She addressed the rumors in an interview with People magazine two months after her buzzed-about appearance at the Emmys: “Am I anorexic? I guess my answer would have to be no,” she said. But eight years later, Calista told the London Daily Mirror that she had in fact suffered from eating issues during the height of her “Ally McBeal” fame. “I was working 15-hour days on the set and then I was dealing with the end of the show, which was basically my life,” she explained. “I started under-eating, over-exercising, pushing myself too hard and [abusing] my immune system. I guess I just didn’t find the time to eat.”
Forget jumping for joy — Alan Alda was so excited when he won an Emmy for writing an episode of his show “M*A*S*H” that he famously did a cartwheel in the aisle before heading up to the stage to collect his prize during the 1979 awards telecast.
Actor-musician Harry Belafonte made history in 1960 when he took home the Emmy for outstanding performance in a variety or musical program for his work on “Revlon Review: Tonight with Belafonte.” The Jamaican American star was first Black performer to ever win an Emmy Award.
Kirstie Alley caused quite a stir with her acceptance speech at the 1991 Emmy Awards. After winning the prize for outstanding actress in a comedy series for her work on “Cheers,” Kirstie made sure to thank her then-husband, Parker Stevenson, aka “the man who has given me the big one for the last eight years.” Talk about TMI!
Sarah Silverman certainly got people talking when she revealed during a red carpet interview with Ryan Seacrest that the LBD she wore during the 2013 Emmys was actually an affordable Internet find. “I’m wearing that [brand] Stop Staring,” the funnywoman enthused. “I got it online for $60. Doesn’t it look just as good as anything fancy or expensive?” We’re glad to see that even Emmy winners can appreciate a bargain!
Jon Hamm scored seven Emmy nominations for his work on “Mad Men” before he finally took home the award for outstanding lead actor in a drama series during the 2015 Emmy Awards. It was an especially triumphant moment for the actor, who’d had a particularly rough year: He went to rehab for alcoholism in March 2015 and split from longtime love Jennifer Westfeldt in early September 2015. “It’s impossible to be standing up here,” he said while receiving a standing ovation after he literally climbed onto the stage. The erstwhile Don Draper went on to sweetly thank his former partner of 18 years and their dog, Cora, during his acceptance speech.
In a memorable bit from the 2011 Emmys, Jimmy Kimmel tackled Jimmy Fallon to the ground in an attempt to steal the acceptance speech the “Late Night” host wrote just in case he somehow managed to beat perennial favorite Jon Stewart to win the Emmy for outstanding variety, music or comedy series. After a brief wrestling match, Kimmel managed to steal Fallon’s speech, which he read in full. The best bit came at the end when Kimmel read, “But most of all, I want to thank Jimmy Kimmel. Jimmy has been there for me since day one. He’s the kindest and most supportive person in my life. He would never mock me or belittle me — especially in a large public venue such as this. I love you, Jimmy Kimmel.”
Hot mama! Hayden Panettiere has never been nominated for an Emmy, but she still managed to walk away as one of the evening’s biggest winners in 2014 when she worked the red carpet in a curve-hugging Lorena Sarbu gown with a plunging neckline while heavily pregnant with her first child. Fashion critics praised this look as one of the best Emmy red carpet moments ever.
Lucille Ball accidentally brought the 1975 Emmys to a halt when she took the stage to present the award for outstanding comedy series without her reading glasses. “You know I haven’t got my glasses… I’m in trouble — I really am!” she said while fumbling with several envelopes at the podium. The TV legend was eventually able to announce the winner after a helpful audience member carried a pair of glasses up to the stage.
Tracy Morgan nearly died in June 2014 when a Walmart truck crashed into a limousine in which he was riding. After more than a year of recovery, the funnyman made his public debut to present the award for outstanding drama series during the 2015 Emmys. “Thank you, thank you so much. I missed you guys so much,” Tracy said as he received a standing ovation and roaring applause from the audience. “Last year, Jimmy Kimmel said, ‘We’ll see you here next year, Tracy Morgan.’ … Thanks to my doctors and my beautiful wife, I’m here standing on my own two feet,” he continued. “God bless all of you for your love, prayers and positive thoughts for the past 15 months. I’m honored to be here at the Emmys.” The “30 Rock” star even cracked a few jokes during his inspirational moment: “Only recently I’ve started to feel like myself again, which means a whole lot of young women are going to get pregnant at the afterparty,” he said. Welcome back, Tracy!
Julia Louis-Dreyfus has been responsible for several LOL-worthy Emmy moments over the years, but our favorite took place during the 2013 show when she accepted the award for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series accompanied by co-star Tony Hale in character as his “Veep” alter ego. Tony hilariously coached Julia through her acceptance speech, offering encouraging smiles and reminding her to thank her family.
The 2017 Primetime Emmys brought us a “9 to 5” reunion! Netflix’s “Grace and Frankie” stars Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda joined former co-star Dolly Parton onstage during the telecast — 27 years after their movie hit theaters. The ladies teamed up to present the award for best supporting actor in a limited series or movie and even alluded to politics. When Jane spoke about wanting to reunite with the girls for years, she noted their flick was about women who refused to be controlled by a man who was a “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot.” Lily added that they would continue to fight against being controlled by a “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot.” Aside from being on hand to present an award and take shots at the White House, the legends were all nominees that night — Lily and Jane for their work on “Grace and Frankie” and Dolly for her TV movie “Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love.”
You can’t censor Jon Stewart! The funnyman crafted the perfect response to the producers of the 2005 Emmys after they reportedly asked him to pre-tape a “topical and edgy” segment for the show that year so that they could sign off on it in advance of the live broadcast. The “Daily Show” host took the stage to present a doctored clip of himself discussing the government and its response to Hurricane Katrina — all in the name of poking fun at network censorship. Positive comments were obviously dubbed over his criticisms, baby animals were superimposed over his raised middle fingers and hilarity ensued.
Will Ferrell brought the funny to the 2013 Emmys, which “Modern Family” creator Steve Levitan dubbed “the saddest Emmys of all time” due to the frequency of in-memoriam segments throughout the show. The “Anchorman” actor’s three sons — who looked like they’d come straight from soccer practice — joined him as he took the stage in shorts, a T-shirt and sandals to present the awards for outstanding comedy and outstanding drama series. “Unfortunately, Helen Mirren and Maggie Smith dropped out at the last second and they called me literally 45 minutes ago and I couldn’t find child care,” the comedian said of his surprise appearance at the show while his boys giggled behind him.
In 2016, Emmys host Jimmy Kimmel brought his funny feud with celeb frenemy Matt Damon to the stage. Matt made a surprise appearance on the show after Jimmy lost the award for outstanding variety series to John Oliver. “I missed the last category. Did you win?” Matt asked, while eating an apple and continuing to tease the host about how “humiliating” it must have been to lose out on the big award. As Matt walked off the stage he had one more dig for Jimmy, adding, “Hey, Jimmy, tell your mom, I like them apples.”
In a ploy to ensure that the 2006 Emmys ended on time, host Conan O’Brien locked Bob Newhart in a glass cylinder on stage, which he claimed contained only three hours of breathable air. The comedy legend was frequently shown banging on the glass throughout the telecast. The gag apparently worked: The show reportedly ended three minutes early that year.
Ricky Gervais wasn’t available to pick up the award for outstanding lead actor in a comedy series when he won the prize during the 2007 Emmys, so presenters Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert gave the Emmy to Steve Carell — who played the American translation of Ricky’s David Brent character from the original British version of “The Office.” Steve went up to the stage and gleefully hugged the presenters while cheering in excitement. But he wasn’t smiling in 2008 when Ricky made an appearance during the Emmys to demand Steve hand over the award. “Look at his stupid face — couldn’t actually win one on his own so he stole someone else’s,” Ricky joked after playing a clip from the 2007 Emmys. Eventually, Steve pulled the Emmy out from under his chair and handed it over to its rightful owner.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus takes a tumble! The actress was on her way to accept the award for outstanding comedy series for “Veep” alongside her co-stars and producers when she got tripped up at the top of the stairs — and pulled a Jennifer Lawrence! Fortunately the actress caught herself with both hands and managed to play it off, but the moment from the 2016 telecast will go down in Emmy history.
From pulling a Jennifer Lawrence to pulling a John Travolta! In 2016, Kiefer Sutherland also channeled another star (a la Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s Jennifer Lawrence fall) when he mispronounced outstanding actress in a drama series winner Tatiana Maslany’s name. The actor said “Tatiana Mahs-lee” instead of the correct pronunciation, “Mass-LAN-ee,” much like John Travolta’s infamous Oscar mixup (remember Adele Dazeem?!). Just like John’s snafu, Kiefer’s confusion resulted in Twitter erupting with hilarious commentary at the actor’s expense.