Today Norman Lear celebrates his 99th birthday. Lear has been writing and producing for television throughout most of his life, and he’s been a part of some of the greatest sitcoms in history, like All in the Family, Sanford and Son, and The Jeffersons. In 2019, he won an Emmy for his special Live in Front of a Studio Audience and, at 97, became the oldest person to ever win an Emmy.
The young stars in Hollywood tend to get a lion’s share of attention, but acting doesn’t have a cut-off age. Norman Lear may hold the title of oldest Emmy winner, but he’s far from the only senior citizen who’s still running artistic laps around his young colleagues. From directors & writers to actors & actresses, some of the most celebrated Emmys winners in film have been in their golden years.
The young people are used to getting the spotlight. It’s time to put them aside and look to their elders. Come with us to learn about some of the oldest Emmys winners in history.
Actress, singer, and renowned Broadway performer Elaine Stritch could do it all. Older fans might recognize her from her days on Two’s Company, whereas younger television viewers might have seen her appearances on Law & Order in the 90s or 30 Rock on this side of the millenium.
Stritch won three Emmys in her lifetime. First came a win in 1993 for her role in Law & Order. Next, Stritch won an Emmy for a television documentary made about her one-woman show. Finally, Stritch became one of the oldest Emmys winners in 2007 for her work in 30 Rock. Stritch was 82 at the time.
Ossie Davis is one of the most celebrated actors of all time. In his career he’s been awarded the National Medal of Arts and has been inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame. Davis has starred in countless roles on screen big & small, and he’s a storied theater actor. On top of all that, he’s spent time working behind the camera as a director.
Davis has won three Emmys in his life, for both supporting & leading roles. At 87, he brought home his last Emmy nomination for his work in the series The L Word.
Who doesn’t love Betty White? She’s starred in countless shows & movies, and as if that wasn’t enough, she’s also a celebrated author & comedian. White might be best known for her role in the sitcom Golden Girls, which ran from 1985 to 1992, but if that’s all you’ve ever seen of her, you’re definitely missing out.
In her lifetime, White has won five different Emmys. She won the award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series in 2010 for hosting an episode of Saturday Night Live. At the time, White was 88 years old, and she was the oldest person to ever win an Emmy. She held onto that record for eight years, but to this day White brings home award nominations & wins on a regular basis.
In 2018, David Attenborough entered the ranks of oldest Emmy winners and took the title back from Betty White. Attenborough is a British broadcaster, and he’s lent his voice to some top-notch programs throughout his career. He’s best known for his work with the BBC Natural History Unit, and that work eventually led him to his 2018 Emmy win.
Attenborough became the oldest Emmy winner at 92 when he won the award for Outstanding Narrator. The award was given for Attenborough’s work in the BBC wildlife documentary Planet Earth: Blue Planet 2. He was the oldest person to win an Emmy until Norman Lear took one home in 2019.
Those are just a handful of the oldest Emmys winners. Who is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!