In this series of posts leading up to this year’s Emmy Awards (going down on August 25th), we’re highlighting the 13 LGBT actors who were nominated for playing LGBT characters in years past, in honor of the fact that a whopping 7 new additions to that list have been nominated this year (Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons, Laverne Cox, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Nathan Lane, Joe Mantello and Kate McKinnon).
We’re going in chronological order, with the first two posts looking John Glover and his nomination for 1985’s TV movie "An Early Frost" (read that here, along with some more background on Emmy’s history with LGBT nominees), and then Ian McKellen, who is one of two LGBT actors to receive two nominations for playing LGBT characters, one on "And The Band Played On" and the other on "Extras" (as himself). Today, we look at the other example — who managed the same feat in the same year….
Nominated For: In 1997, Ellen DeGeneres received 3 Emmy nominations: One for playing herself on "The Larry Sanders Show" (best guest actress in a comedy series) one for playing Ellen Morgan on "Ellen" (best actress in a comedy) and another for writing the coming out episode of that show.
Did She Win?: Yes, but for writing, not acting. DeGeneres lost both acting nominations to folks from "Mad About You" — Helen Hunt in the lead actress category and Carol Burnett in the guest actress category.
Significance: This was clearly a landmark year of queer representation on television thanks to Ms. DeGeneres. Her ABC sitcom was the first to ever feature an out lead character, and her nominations were the first to find an LGBT woman ever nominated for playing an LGBT woman, not to mention the first nomination for any LGBT person playing one on a regular series. While DeGeneres did indeed win for writing "The Puppy Episode" of "Ellen," it’s pretty shameful she didn’t at least win one of the others too. Did Helen Hunt really need one of FOUR Emmys she won that in that category that year? And great as Carol Burnett is, DeGeneres was pretty amazing playing a bizarro version of herself on the "Larry Sanders" episode "Ellen, Or Isn’t She?"
Watch the entire episodes of both "Ellen" and "Larry Sanders" that DeGeneres was nominated for below, as well as DeGeneres’ acceptance speech for winning the writing Emmy.
Check back tomorrow for the next nominee… and check out the previous posts below: