An Emmy Award is a television production award, given out to those that have demonstrated excellence in television. The Emmys honor all forms of programming, from sports programs, to news programs, to primetime programs. They are considered the equivalent to film’s Academy Awards, music’s Grammy Awards, and stage’s Tony Awards. The Emmy Awards are put on by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (ATAS), who were formed in 1946, a year after American television was born. In 1947, the group decided they needed an event to build up their image, as well as promote and honor talent in the television industry. An award show was agreed upon, and after forty seven dismissed designs, the statuette of a winged woman holding an atom became the official Emmy Award. The name “Emmy” came from the feminized version of “Immy”, the shortened term for the orthicon that was used in TV cameras up until the late 1960's.
On January 25, 1949, at the Hollywood Athletic Club, the first annual Emmys were held. At first, they just bestowed honors onto shows produced and aired solely in the Los Angeles area. Twenty year old Shirley Dinsdale, a ventriloquist on the children’s show “Judy Splinters” (1949), took home the very first Emmy. It was for Most Outstanding Television Personality.
By the 1950's, the Emmy Awards expanded to include shows broadcasted nationally. It was then that they also began to be shown on television throughout the country. In 1955, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) was formed in New York to concentrate on programming on the East Coast. The NATAS additionally founded nineteen other regional chapters across the country that began hosting local Emmys.
At first, only one Emmy Award ceremony was held annually and broadcasted nationally. In 1974, the Daytime Emmy Awards, which focused on only daytime programming, was introduced. Soon after, other area specific Emmys were established. The International Emmy Awards, honoring shows produced and initially aired outside of the U.S., were also instituted in the early seventies.
In 1977, due to a number of conflicts, the ATA's and the NATAS severed ties. They agreed to share ownership of the Emmy statue and trademark, as well as take on responsibility for administering a specific set of award shows.
The Emmys are given annually in different area specific categories throughout the year. They include the Primetime Emmys, Daytime Emmys, Sports Emmys, News and Documentary Emmys, Technology and Engineering Emmys, Regional Emmys, International Emmys, and Student Emmys. Each ceremony has their own set of procedures for nomination and voting, as well as different rules concerning voting committees. Regardless of the category in which one receives their Emmy, they are still considered an “Emmy winner”.
Cloris Leachman has the title of actress with the most Emmy Awards, at nine. Carl Reiner holds the record for the most wins of an actor, with nine as well. Overall, HBO’s President of Documentary and Family Programming Sheila Nevins remains the person with the most Emmys, at twenty three. The show “Frasier ” (1993-2004) has thirty seven Primetime Emmys, holding the record for most wins. It also holds the record for the most consecutive Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series, winning from 1994 to 1998. However, “Saturday Night Live” (1975-present) takes home the prize for most Emmy nominations, at a remarkable 142.