Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Bryan Cranston’s 2014 kiss
Winning an Emmy is pretty exciting in itself. But in 2014, after her name was announced for the outstanding lead actress in a comedy series trophy (for Veep), Louis-Dreyfus got something almost as thrilling: a kiss from Bryan Cranston — who, earlier in the show, she joked she didn’t remember. Once on stage, she changed her tune.
Matthew Perry kisses Doris Roberts in 2003
But that was hardly the first kiss to have happened on the way up to the Emmys stage: After Roberts won for Everybody Loves Raymond, Perry planted one on her. It wasn’t an unwelcome gesture: “That was worth coming up here for,” she said.
Sally Field’s 2007 acceptance speech
Accepting her award for outstanding lead actress in a drama series for Brothers & Sisters, Field took the last few seconds of her speech to speak out against the Iraq War, “If the mothers ruled the world, there would be no g—— wars in the first place,” she said — though if you were watching live, you might have missed the last part. Fox, the network that was broadcasting the show, censored the comment.
Helen Mirren outsmarts the FCC
After winning for Elizabeth I, she opened her speech by saying, “My great triumph is not falling ass-over-tits as I came up those stairs,” a sentence, that, when said in Mirren’s perfect English accent, seems to miss the dubbing. It was such a great moment, in fact, presenters Calista Flockhart and Craig Ferguson both repeated it later on during the show.
Jimmy Kimmel’s hosting antics
The comedian was his charming and hilarious self while hosting in 2016, cracking up the crowd with his jokes and also bringing some of his own stunts to the stage. Two that stood out: continuing his “feud” with pal Matt Damon, who made fun of him for losing his category, and employing the Stranger Things kids to hand out snacks his mother had made to the star-studded crowd.
Alan Alda’s cartwheel in 1979
The M*A*S*H star was pretty psyched to win — so much so that he cartwheeled on his way up to the stage.
Kirstie Alley’s “big one”
Alley took home the trophy for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series back in 1991, and landed herself in the acceptance speech history books when she thanked her then-husband Parker Stevenson for being “the man who has given me the big one for the last eight years.”
Ellen DeGeneres goes full Björk
In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the Emmy Awards were rescheduled twice. And in a time of national mourning, DeGeneres reminded America how to smile again with her hilarious turn as a host of the show – including donning a recreation of Björk’s’s iconic swan dress.
Bob Newhart in a glass container
Getting winners to stop talking is never an easy task. So in 2006, host Conan O’Brien “put” Newhart in a glass container, which he said had exactly three hours of breathable air. Understandably, Newhart himself looked a little freaked.
The tear-jerking proposal
When Glenn Weiss won outstanding directing for a variety special for his work on the 90th Academy Awards, he mentioned his mother, who had died two weeks prior. “Mom always believed in finding the sunshine in things, and she adored my girlfriend Jan,” he said of his girlfriend and date for the night, Jan Svendsen. “Jan, you are the sunshine in my life, and mom was right, don’t ever let go of your sunshine. You wonder why I don’t like to call you my girlfriend — because I want to call you my wife.” Svendsen hit the stage, the crowd went crazy, and Weiss formally got down on one knee, proposing with the ring his father had given his mother 67 years before.
Katherine Heigl’s you-can’t-fake-it shock
There’s nothing better than winning when you were convinced you wouldn’t. That’s exactly what happened to Heigl in 2007, when she won for Grey’s Anatomy. In her seat, she mouthed “s—” before walking up to the stage. And when she got up, she said: “My own mother told me I didn’t have a shot in hell of winning tonight” – before cameras cut to a shot of her mom, sitting sheepishly in the crowd. Heigl redeemed her, though, saying: “But she’s a really big supporter, she does love me!” and dedicated the award to her mom.
The outstanding actress in a comedy series pageantry
The nominees for outstanding actress in a comedy series in 2011 took a moment to poke fun at the “pageantry” of awards season. One by one, they all walked on stage, and as the envelope was opened, they held hands Miss-America style — and cheered just as hard when the winner’s name was read: Melissa McCarthy. Oh, and then they gave her a crown, one dozen roses and her Emmy.
Excited to see what memorable moments happen at this year’s Emmy Awards? The 71st Primetime Emmy Awards are airing live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday, Sept. 22, starting at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.