The First Emmy Winners….January 25, 1949
The first ever Emmy Awards came just three short years after the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences was founded by Syd Cassyd on November 14, 1946. TV sets in private homes were still something of a novelty and only 4,000 homes in Los Angeles had televisions.
The show was telecast on KTSL, which was owned by Don Lee, and the awards were for local shows only, but that would soon change. Here is a list of the six awards presented that night…
Most Outstanding Television Personality: Twenty-year-old Shirley Dinsdale and her puppet sidekick “Judy Splinters” for ‘The Judy Splinters Show’.
The Station Award for Outstanding Overall Achievement: KTLA, which was the first commercial television station west of the Mississippi River.
Technical award: Engineer Charles Mesak of Don Lee Television for the work in TV camera technology.
The Best Film Made for Television: ‘The Necklace’, which was a half hour adaptation of Guy de Maupassant’s classic short story.
Most Popular Television Program: ‘Pantomime Quiz’.
A special Emmy is presented to Louis McManus for designing the statuette. Syd Cassyd had originally wanted to call the award the “Ike”, which was a tip of the hat to the Iconoscope tube, but that name that was to closely associated with the soon to be President, Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower. Instead, the award was named the “Immy” in honor of the Image Orthicon tube and quickly feminized to “Emmy” to complement the design chosen for the statuette, which depicted a winged, idealized woman holding an atom.
Her wings represented the muse of art, and the atom and its electrons the science and technology of the new medium. The Television Academy rejected 47 proposals before accepting the statuette designed by television engineer Louis McManus, whose wife served as its model.
Below left, Shirley Dinsdale and her puppet sidekick “Judy Splinters”. In the center is Los Angeles Mayor Fletcher Bowron opening the ceremonies and on the right, the first six Emmy winners.
For a more in depth read on the history of the Emmy, go here…