The Emmy Awards have been fuelling water cooler conversations for more than six decades now. And with good reason: the stars rarely disappoint. Whether they’re outrageously dressed, showing off their latest squeeze or – gasp – thanking the wrong person, our favourite celebs always provide plenty of great gossip fodder on Emmy night.
With the 64th Primetime Emmys just around the corner, we relive some of the most memorable Emmy moments of all time, including the snubs, the gaffes, the feel-good moments and the downright terrible jokes (yes, Kirstie – we’re looking at you!)
1. Instead of giving a boring acceptance speech thanking everyone she’s ever met, Lily Tomlin cracked a hilarious quip when she won for her TV special, Lily, in 1974: "This is not the greatest moment in my life, because on Friday I had a really great baked potato at Niblick's on Wilshire." You’ve gotta love her for not taking the awards show oh-so-seriously.
2. Lovable presenter Lucille Ball couldn’t read the winner’s name because she forgot her reading glasses in 1975. Luckily Milton Berle stepped in to “help” by giving her a wine glass to read through. Once she was able to see properly, she had a lovely moment presenting the award to her heir-apparent, Mary Tyler Moore.
3. Before Roberto Benigni climbed over impeccably dressed A-listers at the Oscars in 1999, Alan Alda gleefully cart-wheeled to the stage when he won a writing Emmy for M*A*S*H in 1979.
4. Proving that awards actually do mean something (well, sometimes, anyway), Hill Street Blues narrowly escaped cancellation after racking up a record-setting eight Emmy wins in 1981.
5. Candice Bergen eschewed the infuriating cliché, “it was an honor just to be nominated” when she candidly admitted to reporters that she had been “dying to win” following her Best Actress in a Comedy nod for Murphy Brown in 1989. How refreshing!
6. After a seemingly endless losing streak, Ted Danson proved he wasn’t the “Susan Lucci of the Primetime Emmys” after all when he finally took home an Emmy for Cheers in 1990 following eight fruitless nominations. Too bad he was wearing such dorky glasses for the occasion.
7. Before the world realized just how, um, zany Kirstie Alley is, she shocked audiences in 1991 during her acceptance speech for Best Actress in a Comedy (Cheers) when she thanked her husband Parker Stevenson, calling him “the man who has given me the big one for the last eight years.” Not to be outdone, Burt Reynolds later used his acceptance speech for Best Actor in a Comedy (Evening Shade) to thank his then-wife Loni Anderson for giving him “two big ones.” Hey-o!
8. Ellen Degeneres walked the Emmy red carpet with then-girlfriend Anne Heche shortly after coming out in 1997. Unfortunately, both were hideously dressed for the momentous occasion. Ellen sported an ill-fitting, shiny suit, while Anne wore a matching dress that looked more cocktail waitress than Hollywood star.
9. At the 2003 Emmys, Everybody Loves Raymond star Brad Garrett had tongues wagging after he locked lips with Garry Shandling in a nod to Madonna and Britney’s sex-ay kiss at that year’s MTV Video Music Awards.
10. After years of being an Emmy bridesmaid while all of her costars racked up nods, Sex and the City star Kristin Davis finally snagged an Emmy nomination in 2004 for the beloved show’s last season. (Her newfound recognition may have felt short-lived, though, when her co-star Cynthia Nixon wound up taking home the trophy for Best Supporting Actress, Comedy.)
11. Which network am I on again? John Lithgow accidentally thanked HBO when he won the Best Guest Actor in a Drama Emmy in 2010 for his bone-chilling stint on Dexter. The problem, of course, was that Dexter airs on Showtime, not HBO. Whoops.
12. When the 2011 Emmy nominations were announced and Sons of Anarchy was conspicuously absent from all categories, the show’s creator Kurt Sutter memorably unleashed his fury on Twitter, tweeting, “My very classy, ever grateful and humble wife forbade me from using the word C*** today, so I’ll wait til midnight to address the Emmy noms.” He later explained that he was joking around more than anything, and that his tweet tirade was taken out of context in the blogosphere.
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