Having viewed the list of the top five people to be remembered at the Emmys In Memoriam segment, members of the public have been up in arms, posting messages on the Emmys website, expressing how upset they are at the organization’s choice at omitting Larry Hagman from the list.
Incorporating the In Memoriam segment has become a tradition at the Emmys. It is the segment where the telecast producers select five individuals who merit special recognition. It cannot be an easy decision to choose five people year on year, when we lose so many shining stars in the industry by the year’s end and this year must not have been particularly easy, either.
To honor them, close friends and colleagues are usually invited to make a personal tribute, which is presented during the ceremony itself and each time, there has not been a dry eye in the house.
This year, special recognition will go out to The Sopranos star, James Gandolfini. His co-star and screen wife, Edie Falco, who played Carmela Soprano, will be making a special tribute. James Gandolfini was born in New Jersey and started out his acting career treading the boards in New York theaters. Gandolfini debuted on Broadway in a 1992 revival of A Streetcar Named Desire, starring with Jessica Lange and Alec Baldwin. The film role that initially helped him break out was his role as hit man Virgil in Tony Scott’s True Romance (1993), but what really gained him global recognition was his role as Mafia boss Tony Soprano in the US hit television series, The Sopranos (1999-2007).
Another tribute will go out to Family Ties producer, Gary David Goldberg and will be presented by its principal star, Michael J. Fox. Brooklyn-born Goldberg had landed his first big break as a writer for The Bob Newhart Show (1976). He then went on to become a story editor for The Tony Randall Show and then a producer for Lou Grant (1978). He experienced enormous success with Family Ties (1982-1989). Other successes of Goldberg included Brooklyn Bridge and Spin City, running for six successful seasons on ABC, besides his writing and directing feature films, with the heartwarming Must Love Dogs, starring Diane Lane and John Cusack, being among them.
Glee’s Jane Lynch will be remembering her friend and co-star Cory Monteith, who also tragically passed away this year. Hailing from Calgary, Alberta in Canada, Monteith was best known for his role as the singing jock, Finn Hudson, in the hit television show Glee, starring opposite Jane Lynch’s role as McKinley High School head coach, Sue Sylvester. Monteith was still only at the infancy stage of his movie career, having completed Monte Carlo (2011) and Final Destination 3 (2006). Many members of the public had expressed their upset and displeasure at Monteith being put up in place of Dallas star, Larry Hagman, while Hagman was taken off the list of top five tributes of the In Memoriam segment list this year.
The late Jean Stapleton, who was best known for her role as Edith Bunker, wife of Archie in All in the Family, will have a tribute dedicated to her by another of her co-stars from the popular television show, Rob Reiner. Stapleton’s birth name was Jeanne Murray and she was born in Manhattan, New York in the early 1920s. She enjoyed much success on the stage, making her stage debut in the 1940s and appearing on Broadway the following decade. She broke into television in the 1960s, turning down a role in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in 1971, to work on a pilot for the show that she was eventually best remembered for – All in the Family.
Robin Williams is also down to make a heartfelt tribute to his dear friend and colleague from their episodes spent together on Mork and Mindy, Jonathan Winters, who played Mearth to Williams’ Mork. Ohio-born Winters broke into show business after winning a talent contest. He moved into work in children’s television and talk shows and then the nightclub circuit. He was best known for his comedy, for which he was Grammy-nominated, although he was plagued by bipolar disorder and prone to depression. He was also a close friend of Robin Williams and in teaming up with him on Mork and Mindy, the pair would successfully ad-lib much of their material.
The Emmys tonight is set to be packed to the rafters with all manner of stars, honors, tributes, glamorous gowns and humor, but it will certainly be full of thought-provoking emotion at this particular tribute segment.
The five stars that will receive special recognition will be remembered fondly, for having brought so much laughter and tears into our living rooms as well as into theaters across the country. It is such a special remembrance segment that has become as important a part of the event as the originally intended portion of the show, which is to honor the most talented and brightest stars that have worked hard to make it to where they are today.
It is truly unfortunate that certain celebrated figures such as I Dream of Jeannie and Dallas star, Larry Hagman has been left out of the top five and there are many who have called it “an insult” and “a disgrace” that there is no sense of tradition or respect for the stars that have originally paved the way for others, with one visitor to the Emmys page calling for the decision maker to be fired. The choice, made by telecast producers, could perhaps have something to do with Larry Hagman’s year of passing not corresponding with the five who will be paid tribute tonight. (For the Larry Hagman fans who may be feeling aggrieved, a small tribute is included below.) It cannot be easy to make a decision such as this, knowing that it could never please everybody, but we can only hope that the night is a successful and memorable one and the stars who cannot have personal tributes made on their behalf will be still given the honors due to them to still shine tonight.
Written by: Brucella Newman