Last year’s Emmy contest witnessed Norman Lear becoming the oldest Emmy winner ever at age 97. He managed to upstage Sir David Attenborough, 93, who also won a trophy for his narration of “Our Planet.”
The legendary creator of such ground-breaking sitcoms as “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons” made history with the live ABC special versions of those shows in the variety special (live) category as executive producer.
But when the pandemic-adapted 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards air on September 20, another 90-something legend could claim the honor of being the oldest actor or actress to win an Emmy — namely, 95-year-old Cicely Tyson. She will likely compete for the fifth time as guest actress in a drama series for the sixth and final season of ABC’s “How to Get Away With Murder,” for her role as Ophelia Harkness — the mother of law professor Annalise Keating played by Viola Davis — who struggles with dementia.
Tyson’s closest competition in her age group is the late Ernest Borgnine, who was 92 when he was nominated for his 2009 guest role in the drama series “ER.”
The actress, who received an honorary Oscar in 2018 and being inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame this past January. She has claimed three previous Emmy trophies. Two were for her 1974 performance in “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” and one was for 1994’s “Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All.”
According to Gold Derby’s combined prediction odds, Tyson is ahead of her main competition, Alexis Bledel (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) with 18/5 odds to win vs. 5/1 odds. So far, 1,152 users are picking her to win.
When Gold Derby editor Marcus James Dixon spoke to Tyson last month, he asked her about how she feels about receiving honors and awards. She spoke about the first time she was nominated for something and didn’t get it. She went home and was feeling somewhat downtrodden. She shared what her mother told her: “This is your choice, this show business, whatever it is that you call it. … One of the things you had better learn right now is that what is for you, you will get it. What is not for you will never get it, okay?”
Two years later she was up for a part in a movie but Tyson was uneasy about the role of a mother who had five children by five different men. She turned it down. Two weeks later, she got the part in “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.”And she heard her mother’s words in her head: “What’s for you will come to you. What is not for you will never come to you. And I tell you,” she said, “I never forgot that.”
Let’s hope what is coming to her is a historic Emmy win at the age 95. If so, she will likely bring down the house.
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