The Oscars has racked up a slew of Emmy wins over the decades since it first started airing on the small screen in 1953. To date this annual celebration of the best in movies has amassed 54 wins from 280 nominations for TV’s highest honor. And there is no end to the Emmys winning streak in sight. Indeed, even though the more recent editions of the annual Academy Awards ceremonies have disappointed TV critics, they still fare well in many of the technical categories.
For the first 25 years that the Oscars were telecast, the ceremonies earned little in the way of Emmys simply because the TV kudos didn’t have categories to accommodate them. The first two Oscar telecasts, in 1953 and 1954, were huge ratings hits, but the first Emmy nomination came only with the third telecast, in 1955. The show competed in the category of best special event or news program. The NBC telecast — hosted by Bob Hope in L.A. and Thelma Ritter in NYC — as well as the World Series, the Rose Bowl and even the Emmys, lost to the CBS coverage of the A-bomb tests. That Oscar night is remembered as much for who lost (Judy Garland in “A Star Is Born”) as for what won (“On the Waterfront” with eight statuettes).
Until the early 1970s, the Emmys had a melange of categories and the Oscars did not seem to fit into any of them. It made a comeback with the 1971 ceremony (“The French Connection” was the big winner, with five Oscars), earning two technical nods and winning for lighting. Then only another nine nominations over the next decade, with one win — Jack Haley for producing the 51st ceremony in 1978 (“The Deer Hunter” won five Oscars). However, with the addition of many more categories in the early 1980s, the Oscars started hauling home Emmys and has never stopped since.
In recent times, the Oscars show has averaged nine Emmy bids per year in various technical categories as well as recognition for the program itself. Until 2008, the Emmys honored individual performance in a variety special, with many of the Oscar emcees contending in this category. Billy Crystal won two of his eight bids (1991, 1998) but other hosts went home empty-handed including Whoopi Goldberg, Steve Martin, Ellen DeGeneres and Jon Stewart. Since 2008, the hosts are included when the Oscars get nominated for live variety special.
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