Lucy forgot her glasses, CBS was the king of the networks with 55 major nominations and three film legends found love among Emmy voters. The 27th Emmy Awards was held on May 19, 1975, and was the first of four ceremonies in its 72-year history without a host; however, the evening was not without laughs. Let’s flashback to the Emmys 45 years ago.
Leave it to the first Queen of Television Comedy to provide some entertainment for the host-less evening. Lucille Ball was given the honor of announcing the winner for Best Comedy Series, but the 63-year-old forgot her eyeglasses. After fumbling with the envelopes, she despaired that she was “really in trouble.” But an old friend and fellow comedy legend came to her aid — Milton Berle jumped onstage and offered an empty wine glass to look through. Did our favorite redhead forget her glasses, or did this comic duo plan the laughs? No one really knows, but someone eventually managed to get her some reading specs, and the winner was announced.
After losing four years in a row, “Mary Tyler Moore” was finally crowned Best Comedy Series, beating out reigning champ “M*A*S*H,” three-time winner “All in the Family” and its own spinoff “Rhoda.” The CBS network almost completed dominated in the comedy categories, with “The Carol Burnett Show” winning Best Variety Series (its only competition was another CBS production, “Cher”).
In the acting categories, 14 out of 17 nominated performances in the lead and supporting categories were from CBS programs, and three of the four winners came from that network: Valerie Harper won her first and only trophy in the lead category after winning three times in the supporting category, all for playing Rhoda Morgenstern; Edward Asner won his third Emmy and Betty White won her first in the supporting categories. Asner and White are two of the Academy’s most celebrated performers, with Asner at a career total of 17 nominations and five wins, and White with a total of 21 nominations and five wins in Primetime). The ABC network managed a win in the Lead Actor category, with Tony Randall from “The Odd Couple” finally winning his first and only Emmy after five previous nominations (proclaiming he now needed a job!).
ABC also found success with its made-for-television movie “Love Among the Ruins,” which won seven of its eight nominations. Hollywood Golden Age legends Katharine Hepburn and Laurence Olivier star as an aging actress being sued for breach of promise and her former lover (who is still in love with her 40 years later) she hires to defend her. The two Oscar-winning legends won the awards for won the movie lead categories. This would be Hepburn’s sole win out of a six nominations, but it was Olivier’s third out of of five wins from nine nominations. The directing race went to one of Hepburn’s favorite collaborators, fellow Oscar winner George Cukor. The romantic comedy also won for writing, costume design, art direction and scenic design, but amazingly lost out on the big prize for Best Special, which went to “The Law.”
On the drama side, the popular British series “Upstairs, Downstairs” won for Best Drama Series for the second year in a row, with star Jean Marsh prevailing her first and only Emmy out of four nominations for Best Drama Actress. In fact three of the four drama winners won their only Emmy that night: Robert Blake is also a four-time nominee, who won Best Drama Actor for his role as “Baretta,” and “The Waltons” grandparents Will Geer and Ellen Corby took home supporting.
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