Emmys flashback to 1961: ‘The Flintstones’ makes history, Don Knotts starts record run

“Ted Lasso,” “The Mandalorian,” “Hacks,” “The Flight Attendant,” “The Crown” and “The Queen’s Gambit” are among the top nominees for the 73rd annual Primetime Awards, which are set for Sept.19 on CBS with Cedric the Entertainer, who stars on the network’s sitcom “The Neighborhood,” set to host. But this is now, but what about the Emmys 60 years ago.

Dick Powell hosted the 13th Emmy Awards which took place at the famed Moulin Rouge Nightclub in Los Angeles on May 16, 1961. There were just three broadcast networks as well as local channels and National Education Television, now known as PBS.

History was made when The Flintstones” became the first animated series to be nominated in a main category: program achievement in the field of humor. It would be nearly 50 years before another animated series, “The Family Guy,” contended for a top award.

Veterans such as Jack Benny and Red Skelton were among the winners, Harry Belafonte was the only black performer nominated, and several highbrow shows prevailed including CBS’ “Young People’s Concerts: Aaron Copland Birthday” and NBC’s “Hallmark Hall of Fame” adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” Here’s a look at the winners and nominees in all the top categories.

Outstanding program achievement in the field of humor
The winner was CBS’s “The Jack Benny Show,” which began in 1950 and continued 1965. Over its run, the adored series won seven Emmys including one in 1958 for Benny in a most unusual category: Best continuing Performance (Male) in a Series by a Comedian, Singer, Host, Dancer, M.C., Announcer, Narrator, Panelist, or any Person who Essentially Plays Himself.

The other nominees were:
“The Andy Griffith Show” (CBS)
“The Bob Hope Show” (NBC)
“Candid Camera” (CBS)
“The Flintstones” (ABC)

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Outstanding program achievement in the field of drama
The winner was NBC’s “Hallmark Hall of Fame’s presentation of the Bard’s “Macbeth,” starring Maurice Evans and Judith Anderson and directed by George Schaefer. “Macbeth,” which was shot in color in Scotland, was the big winner at the Emmys bagging five trophies. Besides the top drama award, Evans, Anderson, and Schaefer all won statutes and the show won Program of the Year.  This “Macbeth” was released theatrically in Europe.The trio of Evans, Anderson and Schafer had previously done “Macbeth” live for “Hallmark” in 1954.

The other nominees were:
“Naked City” (ABC)
“Sacco-Vanzetti Story” (NBC)
“The Twilight Zone” (CBS)
“The Untouchables” (ABC)

Outstanding program achievement in the field of variety
The Emmy went to NBC’s “Astaire Time,” Fred Astaire’s third sophisticated musical special featuring one of his greatest dance partners Barrie Chase. His first, 1958’s “An Evening with Fred Astaire,” won nine Emmys and 1959’s “Another Evening with Fred Astaire” received two nominations.

The other nominees were:
“An Hour with Danny Kaye” (CBS)
“Belafonte New York” (CBS)
“The Garry Moore Show” (CBS)
“The Jack Paar Tonight Show (NBC)

Outstanding performance by an actor in a series (lead)
The Emmy went to Raymond Burr for CBS’ “Perry Mason.” Burr won the Emmy in this category two years earlier. (Thi year, Matthew Rhys contends for the HBO reboot). The other nominees were: Jackie Cooper (“Hennesey,” CBS) and Robert Stack (“The Untouchables,” ABC).

Outstanding performance by an actress in a series (lead)
The winner was Barbara Stanwyck for her short-lived self-titled NBC anthology series. She would win another Emmy five years later for ABC’s ‘The Big Valley” and a third in 1983 for the ABC miniseries “The Thorn Birds,” The other nominees were: Donna Reed (“The Donna Reed Show,” ABC) and Loretta Young (“The Loretta Young Show,” NBC).

Outstanding performance in supporting role by an actor or actress in a series
The Emmy went to the great Don Knotts as the beloved Deputy Barney Fife on CBS’ “The Andy Griffith Show.” Knotts would go on to win four more Emmys as Barney. The other nominees were: Abby Dalton (“Hennesey,” CBS) and Barbara Hale (“Perry Mason,” CBS).

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Outstanding performance in a supporting role by an actor or actress in a single program
The Emmy went to Roddy McDowall as Philip Hamilton on the “NBC Sunday Night Showcase: Our American Heritage: Not Without Honor.” This drama narrated by Lowell Thomas revolved around Alexander Hamilton (Arthur Kennedy) and Aaron Burr (John Colicos). The other nominees were: Charles Bronson (“General Electric Theatre,” CBS) and Peter Falk (“The Law and Mr. Jones,” ABC).

Outstanding single performances by an actor in a leading role
The Emmy went to Evans for “Macbeth.” The other nominees: Cliff Robertson contended for the CBS “The United States Steel Hour: The Two Worlds of Charlie Gordon.” Eight years later, he won the lead actor Oscar for the feature film version, “Charly.” The legendary Ed Wynn earned his nomination for playing himself in the CBS “Desilu Playhouse” presentation “The Man in the Funny Suit.” The drama centered on the problems the funny man and his son and fellow co-star Keenan Wynn endured during rehearsals of the classic 1956 “Playhouse 90” drama, “Requiem for a Heavyweight.”

Outstanding single performance by an actress in a leading role.
Anderson won the Emmy for “Macbeth.” She’d already won for her turn in the 1954 live version. The other nominees were: Ingrid Bergman (“Twenty-four Hours in a Woman’s Life,” CBS) and Elizabeth Montgomery (“The Untouchables,” ABC).

Outstanding writing achievement in comedy
The Emmy went to Sherwood Schwartz of “Gilligan’s Island” fame, Dave O’Brien, Al Schwartz, Martin Ragaway and Red Skelton for CBS’ “The Red Skelton Show.” The long-running comedy-variety series also won best comedy show in 1952. The other nominees were: Charles Stewart, Jack Ellison (“The Danny Thomas Show,” CBS); and Richard Baer (“Hennesey,” CBS).

Outstanding writing achievement in drama
The winner was Rod Serling for CBS “The Twilight Zone.”  This was his second consecutive Emmy for writing the groundbreaking anthology series. The other nominees were: Reginald Rose (“Sacco-Vanzetti Story,” NBC) and Dale Wasserman (“The Dupont Show of the Month,” CBS).

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