Award ceremonies are about more than awards. They're also an opportunity to take a moment to remember those who have passed. For the Emmy Awards, that relates to the more appreciated people in the TV industry, many of whom are celebrated actors. This year's Emmy Awards plans to pay extra tribute to five TV personalities who died, and while we shouldn't be surprised to learn that James Gandolfini and Cory Monteith made the list, it is a little surprising that Dallas' Larry Hagman did not. While we might expect to see him listed among the traditional reel that celebrates the industry people who died in the last year, Hagman will not be among those getting a special tribute this year.
THR reports that actor James Gandolfini (The Sopranos), TV writer/producer Gary David Goldberg (The Bob Newhart Show), actor Cory Monteith (Glee), All in the Family star Jean Stapleton, and comedian/actor Jonathan Winters (Mork & Mindy will all be receiving special tributes at this year's Emmy Awards, which are set to air on CBS this Sunday night (September 22). That's in addition to the traditional reel celebrating the TV personalities who have passed away since last year's Emmy's.
Dallas' Larry Hagman passed away last November, so we should hopefully see some acknowledgement of his passing at this year's Emmy Awards, but I understand why some people might be disappointed or even irritated that Hagman isn't receiving a special tribute, considering his role as the iconic J.R. Ewing in the primetime soap, which he reprised for TNT's revival of Dallas up until his death. Beyond Dallas, Hagman's other major contribution to TV history was playing Major Anthony Nelson, a.k.a. Jeannie's "Master" in the classic TV series I Dream of Jeannie. And he's had numerous other roles in television throughout the decades, with credits that include Knots Landing, Nip/Tuck and Desperate Housewives.
Will people be outraged that Hagman was left out of the special tribute selection? Possibly. From what Emmys producer Ken Ehrlich says, it sounds like they sort of expect some backlash:
"No matter what we do, there will be people who feel we had other options and could have done other things. In all candor, this becomes a producer's option. And in this case, we selected these five knowing certainly others could be treated this way, but these were the five we chose."
He has a point. And if we start to analyze who made the list and who didn't, it begins to feel like a debate over a nomination selection, as opposed to what it really is, a special acknowledgement to people who have passed away. With that in mind, it would be just as easy to point out that there's only one woman in the group selected, or that there isn't exactly much ethnic diversity among them. Hagman would've been a good fit for this list, given his contributions to the industry, but so are the other people mentioned. As would Muppet puppeteer Jane Henson, The Mickey Mouse Club's Annette Funicello, That 70's Show's Lisa Robin Kelly or A Different World's Lou Myers, to name a few other TV stars who also passed away this year.
THR points out that Monteith, whose only TV role was the Fox musical dramedy Glee, made the cut "because of the extenuating circumstances of his sudden death in July." While he may only have one TV credit, Glee is a hugely popular TV series and Monteith was one of the stars. Monteith's career was just getting started, and we'll never know what kind of name he might have made for himself in the years to come. His story is, unfortunately, all too familiar when we consider the other actors who have died young due to substance abuse issues. I'll be curious to see how he's memorialized this Sunday night.
In the meantime, while Larry Hagman won't be given the special memorial treatment, fans of his work will surely have him on their minds during the In Memoriam segment at this Sunday night's Emmy Awards.
The 65th Emmy Awards airs Sunday, September 22 at 8/7c on CBS.