Alfre Woodard makes history with 17 Emmy nods for 16 roles

This year’s Movie/Miniseries Supporting Actress nomination for “Steel Magnolias” brings Alfre Woodard‘s career Emmy tally to an impressive 17 bids. Because these nods are for 16 different roles, Woodard enters Emmy’s record book as TV’s most versatile performer.

Without a doubt, Woodard is one of the industry’s favorite actresses. Besides winning four Emmys over her career, she also earned an Oscar nomination (Best Supporting Actress, “Cross Creek,” 1983) and a Golden Globe (TV Movie/Miniseries Actress, “Miss Evers’ Boys,” 1997).

The fact that she has appeared in six different Emmy races — including all three Drama categories (lead, supporting, guest), both of the Movie/Miniseries categories (lead, supporting) and one Comedy category (supporting) — makes Woodard’s distinct haul even more impressive.

But even though Woodard has amassed a record number of Emmy nods for different roles, there are two TV titans who have more career nominations overall. Cloris Leachman is the most-nominated performer with 22 acting nods, while Betty White and Angela Lansbury come in second with 18 acting bids apiece. White’s number jumps to 20 if you count her back-to-back Reality Host nominations for the now-cancelled “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers.”

Woodard’s two nominations as Dr. Roxanne Turner on “St. Elsewhere” (1986, 1988) make that her only character recognized more than once by the TV Academy. To compare, Leachman’s most-nominated character was Grandma Ida on “Malcolm in the Middle” with 6 nods, while White’s most-nominated role was Rose Nylund on “The Golden Girls” with 7 nods. Lansbury’s turn as Jessica Fletcher on “Murder, She Wrote” remains on top, with 12 consecutive nominations (but zero wins).

If Woodard prevails for “Steel Magnolias” this year, she will join an elite group of five-time winners that includes Kelsey Grammer, John Larroquette, Candice Bergen, Don Knotts and Peter Falk, but to win her fifth, Woodard will have to overcome odds of 15/2 and take out frontrunners Sarah Paulson (“American Horror Story: Asylum“) and Ellen Burstyn (“Political Animals“).

By achieving her 17th Emmy nod, Woodard just tied Edward Asner (17) and surpassed Tyne Daly (16). Also with significant nomination tallies for acting are Mary Tyler Moore (15), Grammer (14), Falk (12) and Glenn Close (12).

Below is a list of Woodard’s 17 career Emmy nominations arranged by category. The four highlighted entries indicate her Emmy wins.

Drama Lead Actress
“St Elsewhere” (1986)

Drama Supporting Actress
“Hill Street Blues” (1984)

Drama Guest Actress
“L.A. Law” (1987)
“St Elsewhere” (1988)
“Homicide: Life on the Street” (1998)
“The Practice” (2003)
“True Blood” (2011)

Movie/Miniseries Lead Actress
“Unnatural Causes” (1987)
“A Mother’s Courage: The Mary Thomas Story” (1990)
“The Piano Lesson” (1995)
“Miss Evers’ Boys” (1997)

Movie/Miniseries Supporting Actress
“Words By Heart” (1985)
“Gulliver’s Travels” (1996)
“The Water is Wide” (2006)
“Pictures of Hollis Woods” (2008)
“Steel Magnolias” (2013) — pending

Comedy Supporting Actress
“Desperate Housewives” (2006)

Find out if Alfre Woodard can win her fifth acting Emmy when Neil Patrick Harris hosts the 65th Primetime Emmys on CBS Sept. 22.

Special thanks to Gold Derby user Adam Davenport for bringing this to our attention.

2 thoughts on “Alfre Woodard makes history with 17 Emmy nods for 16 roles

  1. Carol Burnett was forgotten in the tally of those with more nominations, 20 total for performance. Unless you are being a snob and not including her 12 nods shared with producers of various programs…ineligible for any category solely for her performance. On the same note of snobbery (if that is the case) Lily Tomlin also has more but only if you include her 5 daytime emmy nominations…totaling 19 with both daytime & primetime (3 of those primetime sharing has a performer or narrator with producers in a programming category.)

  2. Alfre Woodard actually has been recognized by the television category three times for playing Dr. Roxanne Turner. She was twice nominated for playing the character on “St. Elsewhere” in 1986 and 1988 (for lead actress in a drama series and guest performer in a drama series), and for again for guest actress in a drama series in 1998 for reviving the character on “Homicide: Life on the Streets” in an explosive euthanasia-themed episode titled “Mercy”.

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