When Kelsey Grammer made his first guest appearance on the sitcom “Cheers” as Dr. Frasier Crane in 1984, it marked the beginning of an impressive legacy. He stayed on for the next nine years, earning a pair of supporting Emmy bids, as well as a third for guest starring as Crane on “Wings.” Before “Cheers” ended its run in 1993, it was decided that Crane would live on as the protagonist of his own show, “Frasier.” In all, Grammer portrayed the character for 20 straight years – a record in the comedy genre.
“Frasier” earned five Primetime Emmys for its inaugural season, including Best Comedy Series and Best Comedy Actor. Grammer’s first of four eventual wins came for his work in the pilot episode, “The Good Son,” in which Crane reservedly invites his estranged, widowed father to live with him. The 39-year-old’s victory made him the seventh youngest winner in his category, just one spot ahead of his “Cheers” castmate, Ted Danson, who was 42 when he prevailed in 1990. Now, Grammer and Danson are in 10th and 12th place, respectively.
Since 1954, a total of 38 actors have won Emmys for their lead roles on continuing comedy programs, beginning with Donald O’Connor (“The Colgate Comedy Hour”). Including Grammer, 16 of the winners have triumphed multiple times.
Scroll through our photo gallery to find out who ranks ahead of Grammer on the list of 10 youngest Best Comedy Actor Emmy winners. This list also factors in winners of the now-retired variety performance awards, since regular cast members on continuing variety series now compete here.
10. Kelsey Grammer (‘Frasier,’ 1994)
Role: Dr. Frasier Crane
Grammer’s subsequent trio of prizes for this role came in 1995, 1998, and 2004.
John Goodman (“Roseanne”)
John Larroquette (“The John Larroquette Show”)
Paul Reiser (“Mad About You”)
Jerry Seinfeld (“Seinfeld”)
9. Eric McCormack (‘Will & Grace,’ 2001)
Role: Will Truman
McCormack collected a total of four nominations for this series between 2000 and 2005. His win came in recognition of his work on the third season.
Kelsey Grammer (“Frasier”)
John Lithgow (“3rd Rock from the Sun”)
Frankie Muniz (“Malcolm in the Middle”)
Ray Romano (“Everybody Loves Raymond”)
8. Dick Van Dyke (‘The Dick Van Dyke Show,’ 1964)
Role: Rob Petrie
Van Dyke’s work on his five-season eponymous sitcom brought him two wins from three nominations.
Richard Boone (“The Richard Boone Show”)
Dean Jagger (“Mr. Novak”)
David Janssen (“The Fugitive”)
George C. Scott (“East Side/West Side”)
7. Alan Alda (‘M*A*S*H,’ 1974)
Role: Benjamin “Hawkeye” Pierce
This was Alda’s first of two acting wins for this series, for which he also collected a directing prize in 1977 and a writing one in 1979. He, Danson (“Cheers”), and David Hyde Pierce (“Frasier”) jointly hold the male record for most acting nominations for the same series (11).
Redd Foxx (“Sanford and Son”)
Jack Klugman (“The Odd Couple”)
Carroll O’Connor (“All in the Family”)
Tony Randall (“The Odd Couple”)
6. Jim Parsons (‘The Big Bang Theory,’ 2010)
Role: Sheldon Cooper
Parsons was successful on four of his six outings as Cooper, also bringing home trophies in 2011, 2013, and 2014.
Alec Baldwin (“30 Rock”)
Steve Carell (“The Office”)
Larry David (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”)
Matthew Morrison (“Glee”)
Tony Shalhoub (“Monk”)
5. John Ritter (‘Three’s Company,’ 1984)
Role: Jack Tripper
The third time proved to be the charm for Ritter when he prevailed after a trio of bids. He was later nominated in this category for “Hooperman” in 1988 and posthumously for “8 Simple Rules” in 2004.
Dabney Coleman (“Buffalo Bill”)
Ted Danson (“Cheers”)
Robert Guillaume (“Benson”)
Sherman Hemsley (“The Jeffersons”)
4. Sid Caesar (‘Caesar’s Hour,’ 1957)
This was Caesar’s first of two nominations for this sketch show, which was a direct continuation of his earlier variety program, “Your Show of Shows.”
Jack Benny (“The Jack Benny Program”)
Robert Cummings (“The Bob Cummings Show”)
Ernie Kovacs (“The Ernie Kovacs Show”)
Phil Silvers (“The Phil Silvers Show”)
3. Donald Glover (‘Atlanta,’ 2017)
Role: Earn Marks
Glover’s first acting victory was paired with a directing win for the same series. He was also nominated as a writer and producer, and went on to be recognized in the same four categories one year later.
Anthony Anderson (“Black-ish”)
Aziz Ansari (“Master of None”)
Zach Galifianakis (“Baskets”)
William H. Macy (“Shameless”)
Jeffrey Tambor (“Transparent”)
2. Donald O’Connor (‘The Colgate Comedy Hour,’ 1954)
O’Connor made history as the first man to score an Emmy for acting on a specific continuing series, and was the youngest male acting champ overall for two decades.
Sid Caesar (“Your Show of Shows”)
Wally Cox (“Mister Peepers”)
Jackie Gleason (“The Jackie Gleason Show”)
Jack Webb (“Dragnet”)
1. Michael J. Fox (‘Family Ties,’ 1986)
Role: Alex P. Keaton
After his portrayal of Keaton brought him a supporting bid in 1985, Fox was promoted to a lead and amassed three consecutive trophies. He later won a fourth award in this category for “Spin City” in 2000.
Harry Anderson (“Night Court”)
Ted Danson (“Cheers”)
Bob Newhart (“Newhart”)
Jack Warden (“Crazy Like a Fox”)