The 10 best Emmy speeches: Tears, cheers and a marriage proposal
Acceptance speeches have long been a hallmark of the Primetime Emmys, providing moments of raw emotion and spontaneity. One winner said she was unemployed, and used her spotlight to ask for a job, while another used his platform to propose marriage.
Here are some of the most memorable moments from past Emmy ceremonies.
(Note: We did not include “Veep” star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who deserves her own “best Emmy speech” category. So we obliged.)
Sarah Jessica Parker, ‘Sex and the City’ (2004)
Parker was finally recognized after 10 nominations as an actress and producer of HBO’s “Sex and the City.” Her victory came after the show had completed its final season. “This is a great punctuation to a very long sentence, a really good sentence,” Parker said. Though the orchestra tried to play her off, Parker continued with obvious emotion, thanking the cast, crew, her manager, publicists, New York City and the “passers-by who always wanted the best for me.”
Meryl Streep, ‘Angels in America’ (2004)
“There are days when I myself think I’m overrated,” the multiple award winner said, pausing before adding with a wide smile, “but not today.” Lavishing praise on others in the category, including Glenn Close and Helen Mirren, Streep humorously singled out Emma Thompson as the only one “who would hold a grudge ... but who cares?”
The Lonely Island, ‘Dick in a Box’ (2007)
Andy Samberg of “Saturday Night Live” quipped about the win for the “Saturday Night Live” short, “It’s safe to say that when we first set out to make this song, we were all thinking ‘EMMY.’”
Kristen Chenoweth, ‘Pushing Daisies’ (2009)
Kristin Chenoweth’s Emmy acceptance speech.
Chenoweth was so overcome with shock and emotion after her name was announced that it seemed like she would not be able to finish her speech. But she powered through, thanking the Television Academy “for recognizing a show that’s no longer on the air,” and noting that she was now looking for work. “I’d like to be on ‘Mad Men.’ I also like ‘The Office’ and ‘24.’”
Melissa McCarthy, ‘Mike & Molly’ (2011)
Before the winner was announced, the nominees, including Edie Falco (“Nurse Jackie”), Martha Plimpton (“Raising Hope”), Tina Fey (“30 Rock”) and Amy Poehler (“Parks and Recreation”), lined up on stage and held hands as if they were in a beauty pageant. When McCarthy’s name was called, presenter Rob Lowe crowned her, and she was given a bouquet of roses. “Holy smokes,” McCarthy declared. “It’s my first and best pageant ever!”
Merritt Wever, ‘Nurse Jackie’ (2013)
An obviously shocked Wever delivered what many Emmy observers have called the best acceptance speech of all time when she delivered this gem: “Thank you so much. Thank you so much. I gotta go — bye,” then fled the stage.
Jon Hamm, ‘Mad Men’ (2015)
Hamm had been nominated 16 times before breaking his losing streak in 2015 for his portrayal of advertising executive Don Draper. The actor was notably humble: “There’s been a terrible mistake, clearly,” he said. “This is impossible.” He praised his fellow nominees as well as the cast and producers of “Mad Men,” adding, “It’s incredible, impossible for me to be standing here.”
Viola Davis, ‘How To Get Away With Murder’ (2015)
Davis became the first African American to win in the lead actress category and delivered a heartfelt speech calling for diversity in Hollywood. “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”
Henry Winkler, ‘Barry’ (2018)
The former Fonz received a standing ovation as he rushed to receive his trophy. “I only have 37 seconds — I wrote this 43 years ago,” said the actor as he started his speech, which gave tribute to the cast and crew of the HBO comedy. He ended with a shout-out to his kids: “Jed, Zoey and Max, you can go to bed now. Daddy won!”
Glenn Weiss, ‘The Oscars’ (2018)
Glenn Weiss used his time onstage while accepting the variety special directing award for the Oscars to propose.
Despite all the star power on stage, Weiss’ win was not only the most memorable moment of the evening, but will go down in Emmy history as the ceremony’s first wedding proposal. Thanking his girlfriend Jan Svendsen sitting in the audience, Weiss said, “Jan, you are the sunshine of my life. You wonder why I don’t like to call you my girlfriend? Because I want to call you my wife.” His speech ended with a bended-knee proposal onstage and a final “Thank you to the Academy!”
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