Two Emmy favorites are in line to reap their first Best Supporting Actress Oscar bids: seven-time Emmy champ Allison Janney (two of those wins were for her featured role on the comedy “Mom”) has a showy role in “I, Tonya” as the foul-mouthed, chain-smoking mother of disgraced Olympic hopeful Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie). And Laurie Metcalf, who won this Emmy race three years running for “Roseanne” beginning in 1992, has a scene-stealing turn as a hardworking nurse at odds with her headstrong daughter (Saoirse Ronan) in “Lady Bird.”
Until now, just three Comedy Supporting Actress Emmy winners have also numbered an Oscar nomination among their awards achievements. Unlike Janney and Metcalf, all three of them won over the motion picture academy before turning their sights on TV’s top prize.
First to pull off this double act was Cloris Leachman. In 1971 she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her haunting portrayal of a lonely wife who strays in “The Last Picture Show.” Two years later, Leachman garnered the first of her eventual two Comedy Supporting Actress Emmys for her turn as the lovably neurotic Phyllis Lindstrom on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” Leachman has six other Emmys crowding her mantle.
Long before stealing scenes on “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” Carol Kane was an Oscar nominee, reaping a Best Actress bid for her turn as a Russian immigrant settling in New York City at the start of the 20th century in “Hester Street” (1975). While that prize went to Louise Fletcher (“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”), Kane was not without a trophy for long, as she won a pair of Emmys, one in Comedy Actress (in 1982) and one in Comedy Supporting Actress (in 1983) for her portrayal of the irresistibly idiosyncratic Simka Dahblitz-Gravas on “Taxi.”
Finally, there was the late, great Eileen Brennan, who in 1980 garnered a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her outrageously funny portrayal of the hard-nosed Captain Doreen Lewis in “Private Benjamin.” The Oscar may have gone to Mary Steenburgen (“Melvin and Howard”) but the following year brought the Comedy Supporting Actress Emmy to Brennan’s mantle, as she reprised her “Private Benjamin” role for the short-lived sitcom version of the hit film.
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