The History & Craziest Moments of the Emmys Ahead of the 75th Ceremony

Scenes from the 70th Emmy Awards Governors Ball and 2018 Creative Arts Governors Ball press preview at L.A. Live Event Deck on September 6, 2018 in Los Angeles, California
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The 75th annual Emmy Awards are set to premiere on January 15, 2024. Before you watch the show this year, learn about the inception of the awards, its history, and some of its controversial moments. The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences introduced the Emmy Awards in 1949 and in its early years, it was only televised for Los Angeles-based residents. As the years went on, it became broadcast nationally. Academy founder Syd Cassyd wanted the award to be called “Ike,” in honor of a piece of early camera technology. However, the name “Ike” was already too well-known as a nickname for Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower. It became “Immy,” another term for a piece of technology used in television. Eventually, it was changed slightly to “Emmy.”

The very first Emmy Awards were held on January 25, 1949, at the Hollywood Athletic Club and were hosted by radio host Walter O’Keefe. Tickets were only $5 to attend. There were six awards and they were limited to shows that were produced in Los Angeles. Keep in mind that television had not quite hit it big at this time yet. The very first Emmy award was given to ventriloquist Shirley Dinsdale and her puppet sidekick Judy Splinters for the show The Judy Splinters Show.

Emmys at the First Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards for Business & Financial Reporting at a private club December 04, 2003 in New York City

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Like any award, the Emmy award is beautiful and portrays a woman with lightning bolt wings holding a globe. Television engineer Louis McManus came up with the idea and used his wife as a model. Everyone loved the design so much that the Emmy award won an Emmy for “Original Design of the Emmy.” Now, each year, the company R.S. Owens is responsible for making the beautiful statues for its winners.

Pasadena, CA - 1985: Betty Thomas accepting her Emmy awards, appearing on the 1985 Emmy Awards / 37th Annual Emmy Awards, at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium

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While the Emmys are known for elegance and fun, there have been some crazy and even controversial moments over the years. In 1985, a prankster Barry Breman made his mark on the show. It was announced that Betty Thomas won for her role in Hill Street Blues and Breman ran to the stage, claiming that Betty was not there and asked him to accept the award, despite the camera panning to her in the audience! It went to commercial for those viewing on television and after the show returned, she was onstage accepting the award. Breman was fined $170 and sentenced to six months of information probation.

Henry Winkler and Emmy Award at The 31st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on September 9, 1979 at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, California

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Although it has been uncommon, the Academy has revoked an Emmy nomination and award before. Before Happy Days star Henry Winkler won his first Emmy in 2018, he almost won in 2000. He was nominated for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy for the show Battery Park but it was later pointed out that the show didn’t fit in the cut-off dates for the award show nominees. In 2017, Kevin Spacey was set to receive the International Emmy Founder Award. However, after actor Anthony Rapp accused Spacey of sexual assault, the award was revoked. While Bill Cosby was not ordered to give back his Emmy wins, he was stripped from the website after being sentenced for sexual assault.

Matthew Perry kisses winner Doris Roberts for her win for Best Supporting Actress for a Comedy Series for "Everyone Loves Raymond" during The 55th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Show at the The Shrine Theater in Los Angeles, California

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Of course, there have been some crazy moments that were more fun! For instance, in 2003, the late Matthew Perry shocked audiences when he kissed Doris Roberts on stage. Prior, in 1979, M*A*S*H star Alan Alda showed his excitement by cartwheeling his way to the stage to accept an award. Do you remember any other shocking or heartwarming moments that happened while you were watching the award show? Find out what happens this year by watching on January 15, 2024, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT. on FOX. You can stream the next day on Hulu. Anthony Anderson is the host this year.

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