The Best Comedy Actress Emmy category just keeps getting better with age. Last year, Catherine O’Hara became the category’s second oldest winner when she took home the award for “Schitt’s Creek,” but that status looks like it’ll be short-lived.
Jean Smart is the runaway favorite to win comedy actress for “Hacks,” sitting at 31/10 in the odds. The three-time Emmy champ turns 70 years young on Sept. 13, six days before the ceremony, so if she walks away with her fourth statuette, she’ll take the honor of “second oldest winner” in the category, which was formally established in 1966, from O’Hara, who was 66 years, 6 months and 17 days old on Emmy night last year. Neither is anywhere close to the oldest champ, Ruth Gordon, who was 82 years, 10 months and 11 days old when she prevailed for “Taxi” in 1979. If that’s not old enough for you, she was also born in the 19th century (1896).
There is a caveat with Gordon’s win though. The Oscar-winning actress and screenwriter was a guest star on “Taxi” and won for the only episode in which she appeared during the show’s five-season run (Carol Kane was also a guest star on “Taxi” who won this category in 1982 before becoming a series regular). So if you remove Gordon from the equation, O’Hara is currently the oldest comedy actress winner who was actually a series regular on her show and Smart would become the oldest.
A Smart victory now feels like a near lock — every Expert and editor is predicting her — but that wasn’t always the case. Smart slowly climbed up the rankings as “Hacks,” which premiered on HBO Max on May 13, aired and built buzz. She dethroned frontrunner Kaley Cuoco (“The Flight Attendant”) right before nominations day and has now firmly staked her claim to the top spot in the winner odds, no doubt helped by the 15 nominations “Hacks” received, making it the second most-nominated comedy after “Ted Lasso.”
Smart, who’d obviously be the first comedy actress winner in her 70s, is the oldest nominee in the category this year. Allison Janney (“Mom”), who’s in fourth place, is 61. Tracee Ellis Ross (“Black-ish”) is in third place and is the third oldest at 48. No. 2 Cuoco is 35 and Aidy Bryant (“Shrill”), who’s in fifth, is the youngest at 34.
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