Did the First Two Best Actor in a Drama Emmys Go to the Star of a SITCOM?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: The first two Emmy Awards for Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series went to Robert Young for Father Knows Best.

Over the years, there have been some debate when it comes time for the Emmy Awards nominations as to what category various shows belong in.

For instance, was Ugly Betty a comedy or a drama with comedic elements? Was Ally McBeal a comedy or a drama with comedic elements? Same with Desperate Housewives and Glee. Those four shows all were nominated as comedy series – there really does not seem to be as much of the same problem on the drama side of things (although one could argue that Boston Legal would apply).

However, there certainly was a bit of an issue for the very first two Emmy Awards given out for Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series.

The award was given to…Robert Young?!!?

Yes, Robert Young, star of Father Knows Best…

This Robert Young, portrayer of Jim Anderson, father to Princess, Bud and Kitten…

Yep, remarkably enough, it’s true – while the show was never nominated for Best Drama Series, Father Knows Best still netted Young the first two Lead Actor in a Drama Series awards (1956 and 1957), with Raymond Burr ending his streak in 1959 by winning for Perry Mason (there was no award given out in 1958).

Adding to the bizarreness, while Father Knows Best was not nominated for ANY series award in 1956 or 1957, it WAS nominated for a Best Series award from 1958-1960…Best COMEDY Series!!

I can’t even begin to imagine the thinking of the Emmys at the time – I presume that’s just where Young entered himself (or the show entered Young), but it’s still remarkable that the Emmys allowed him to be nominated and WIN the award for a show that was a prototypical situational comedy.

The legend is…


Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

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