The Emmy Award is the American award given to people in the television industry to recognize excellence in televised entertainment.
The term “Emmy” originated from the slang term “Immy,” which TV crew members called a camera tube used in TV production called “image orthicon.” An E was added to the name to give the statue a feminine name to go with its image of a winged woman.
There are multiple different ceremonies. There are the Primetime Emmys, the Daytime Emmys, the Creative Arts Emmys, the Sports Emmys, the News & Documentary Emmys, the Technology & Engineering Emmys and others.
They are all presented by three different organizations: The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and The International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
The Los Angeles-based Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS) created the Emmy Award to help boost their image and increase their public relations opportunities.
The first ceremony took place in January 1949 (70 years ago this month) at the Hollywood Athletic Club in L.A. to honor local L.A.-based shows.
The ceremony was known as the 1st Emmy Awards until the debut of the Daytime Emmy Awards, and now it is referred to as the 1st Primetime Emmy Awards.
They were hosted by composer and radio legend Walter O’Keefe.
The nominees and categories for the first Emmy ceremony were wildly different from what they are today.
The major category in that show was “Most Popular Television Program.” The nominees included programs like What’s the Name of that Song, Don Lee Music Hall and Tuesday Varieties, all on local L.A. stations like KTSL, KTLA and KFI-TV.
The winner was a program called Pantomime Quiz (KTLA), a game show that aired from 1947 to 1959. Its name was later changed to Stump the Stars and it has the distinction of being one of the few shows from the Golden Age of Television to air on all four networks (CBS from 1949 to 1957, NBC in 1952, DuMont from 1953 to 1954 and ABC in 1955 and from 1958 to 1959).
The nominees for “Best Film Made for Television” were Christopher Columbus, Hollywood Brevities, It Could Happen to You, The Necklace, Tell Tale Heart and Time Signal. The winner was The Necklace.
The nominees for “Most Outstanding Television Personality” were Shirley Dinsdale, Rita LeRoy, Patricia Morison, Mike Stokey and Bill Welsh. The Emmy Award went to ventriloquist and radio personality Shirley Dinsdale.
KTLA won the Station Award for Outstanding Overall Performance in 1948.
Louis McManus won a Special Award for designing the Emmy statuette depicting a winged woman holding an atom (wings symbolizing art and the atom symbolizing science).
Charles Mesak of Don Lee Television won the Technical Award for the introduction of TV camera technology Phasefader.
The Emmys were expanded into a national event in the 1950s and the ATAS began awarding shows that aired nationwide on broadcast television. The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences was formed in New York City in 1955 as the East Coast branch of the ATAS.
The Daytime Emmy Awards were established in 1974 to honor programs that aired in the daytime such as soap operas.
The Emmys soon came to include cable programming when those shows gained prominence in the eighties, first becoming eligible for the Primetime Emmy Awards in 1988 and the Daytime Emmy Awards in 1989.
Web-only series also began getting accepted in 2013, the same year Netflix series House of Cards came out. The political drama would become the first web series to get nominated for a Primetime Emmy.
The Primetime Emmys are generally held in mid-September before the start of the fall television season and the awards ceremony is broadcast in rotation on NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX. The awards are voted on by ATAS members. They vote around June to determine the nominees in their respective categories, and the winners are determined in August.
All nominees must originally air in America, the eligibility period being an air date between June 1 and May 31 each annual cycle, and it must air between 6pm and 2am to at least 50% of the country to qualify for a Primetime Emmy Award.
Categories in the Primetime Emmy Awards include:
Outstanding Comedy Series
Outstanding Drama Series
Outstanding Limited Series
Outstanding Reality-Competition Program
Outstanding Television Movie
Outstanding Variety Sketch Series
Outstanding Variety Talk Series
Outstanding Lead Actor
Outstanding Lead Actress
Outstanding Supporting Actor
Outstanding Supporting Actress
There are also Emmys for directing and writing.
The Creative Arts Emmy Awards include categories such as documentaries, short form series, makeup, music, editing, animation, casting, children’s programming, commercials, visual effects and interactive media.
Some fun trivia about some Emmy winners:
The network with the most Emmys is NBC.
The TV program with the most Emmys is Saturday Night Live.
The comedy with the most Emmys is Frasier.
The drama with the most Emmys is Game of Thrones.
The limited series with the most Emmys is American Horror Story.
The animated series with the most Emmys is The Simpsons.
The web series with the most Emmys is The Handmaid’s Tale.
The individual with the most Emmys is HBO documentary producer Sheila Nevins.
The writer/producer with the most Emmys is Daily Show host Jon Stewart.
The performer with the most Emmys is tied between Cloris Leachman (The Mary Tyler Moore Show) and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep).