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The First Emmys

Andy Samberg's joke about my attending the first Emmy Awards ceremony made me curious about Emmy history. This year was the 67th Emmy Awards, and I turned 67 last Sunday, but until Andy appeared beside me I hadn't actually connected the two. Pretty amazing.

For a few hours I entertained the amusing thought that they were perhaps giving out those first Emmys even as I was being born. Alas, that was not actually the case. Emmy and I may both be 67, but I actually came into the world a few months before her. The first Emmy ceremony took place on January 25, 1949, to honor work telecast during 1948.

Interestingly, those first awards were strictly a local matter: a Los Angeles award, for shows broadcast in the LA media market. Not at all national. The first winner -- for "Most Popular Television Program" -- was a show called PANTOMIME QUIZ. A drama called THE NECKLACE won for "Best Film Made for Television," and Shirley Dinsdale won as "Most Outstanding Television Personality." She was a ventriloquist with a dummy named 'Judy Splinters.'

It is not recorded whether Judy also got a trophy, or whether she came on stage to accept the Emmy with Shirley.

They also gave an Emmy to the guy who designed the Emmy. And that was it. Four trophies, presented in LA, to local performers. Television was an art form in its infancy back then, and the world was different. (There was WAY more television production going on in New York than in California back in the 40s, but leave it to the Hollywood guys to be the first to think of giving out awards).

The past is another country, truly.


Sep. 27th, 2015 08:25 am (UTC)
Trivia knowledge overload :D
The name "Emmy" was derived from "Immy," a nickname for the image orthicon camera tube, which was instrumental in the development of modern television. The word was feminized as "Emmy" to complement the design chosen for the statuette, which depicted a winged, idealized woman holding an atom.

I love this stuff...
Sep. 27th, 2015 08:59 am (UTC)
Wow. The first performance award, "Most Outstanding Television Personality," went to a woman. Interesting bit of trivia.
John Nelson
Sep. 27th, 2015 09:00 am (UTC)
We need a Tardis
I demand BBC go back in time and bring us back Judy Splinter!!! Oh my god, look at that retro hotness!! She can be our first female Doctor
Sep. 27th, 2015 02:46 pm (UTC)
That's because in New York we were more concerned with giving awards to live theatre: the Tony's, for example or the OOBIE's (off-off broadway) which in time would come to include nominations and awards to a seminal company, The Cocteau Rep, which was honoured by Tennessee Williams with the rights to produce several of his unproduced earlier works.
Sep. 27th, 2015 03:21 pm (UTC)
I hope your TV room is big!
FWIW I think that GoT will create a dynasty for Outstanding Drama Series in future years. With all the hype surrounding season 6 and the series in general I believe it is inevitable. The Mad Men series now over. Still not sure if Orange Is the New Black is a comedy or drama. However Better Call Saul may prove to be a dark horse with the brilliance of Vince Gilligan and the introduction of the Gus storyline.

Anyhow, I just wanted to wish you continued success. You changed my perception of what a fantasy show is and for that I thank you.
Sep. 27th, 2015 09:53 pm (UTC)
Re: I hope your TV room is big!
Never assume.

Yes, MAD MEN is over, but BETTER CALL SAUL and HOMELAND and HOUSE OF CARDS and DOWNTOWN ABBEY and ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK will all contend again, GOOD WIFE will likely rebound, and there are lots of great new shows that have not yet been nominated, but could be strong contenders in the future. THE KNICK, OUTLANDER, FARGO, MASTERS OF SEX, THE AMERICANS, and ORPHAN BLACK all come to mind... and who knows what new contenders will be making their debuts this fall.
Sep. 27th, 2015 10:45 pm (UTC)
Re: I hope your TV room is big!
Of the shows on that list I watch (BETTER CALL SAUL, HOMELAND, HOUSE OF CARDS, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, ORPHAN BLACK), I think all but two have already hit their high water marks. ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK is still going strong and, if Vince Gilligan and company can keep up their superlative track record, BETTER CALL SAUL is likely to start dominating Emmys to come.

Meanwhile, GAME OF THRONES is headed into uncharted waters for everyone who isn't you, David Benioff and Dan Weiss. Given all of your track records, I hope and expect that will mean exploring new and exciting territory, but the less the show can stand on the solid grounding of the books they're based on, the more nervous I get.
Sep. 27th, 2015 11:44 pm (UTC)
Re: I hope your TV room is big!
No hope of a return to form for True Detective?
Michael Woodley
Sep. 28th, 2015 10:16 pm (UTC)
RE: Re: I hope your TV room is big!
If you have not seen Mr Robot, please do. It's extremely well done and it deserves far more recognition than it gets.
Keith Russell Dulak
Sep. 27th, 2015 06:33 pm (UTC)
"The past is another country". Ive never heard this before. Remarkable statement. Im going to steal it in the future. (Get it?) Is this a grrm connotation?
Sep. 27th, 2015 09:54 pm (UTC)
Hardly. Originated with a writer named L.P. Hartley. I am about the ten thousandth person to steal the line. You can be the next.
Sep. 27th, 2015 11:37 pm (UTC)
"The past is another country. They do things differently there." Opening line of The Go-Between, the most famous bit of it and yes, used a lot.

How indeed things have changed! I'm betting there are some elderly folk out there who remember when the Emmys was "our award" before others got hold of it, and gripe about all the changes and remember Judy Splinters fondly. ;-)

Sep. 27th, 2015 10:07 pm (UTC)
Interesting little tidbits! Thank you for sharing.
Sep. 28th, 2015 12:23 am (UTC)
I love early television. Love it. Particularly local efforts. It's so often so weird. Nobody knows what they're doing, really, and everybody's still figuring it out, and there's so much amateur hour on display and it's just brilliant. Like, Captain Video, right? The surviving episodes of that are just so extraordinarily random. Surprise! Suddenly, it's cowboys! And now we're back in space! Because sure, why not.

Oct. 2nd, 2015 02:04 pm (UTC)
just curious
Hi George,
I figured this was the place to ask if you watched "Mr. Robot"? And if so, what do you think?
Oct. 4th, 2015 11:05 pm (UTC)
Re: just curious
Heard good things, but no, I haven't seen it.


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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