Six women from two breakthrough television series teamed up to storm the 38th annual Emmy Awards on Sunday as "Cagney & Lacey" was named best drama series for the second year in a row and "The Golden Girls" was honored as best comedy series.
The four Emmys for the first-year "Golden Girls" series helped propel NBC to a major victory in the ceremonies honoring the top nighttime programs of the 1985-86 season.
First in the prime-time ratings last season, NBC's first such triumph, the network topped its rivals with 19 of the 32 awards handed out at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium--including best miniseries, "Peter the Great," and best drama or comedy special, "Love Is Never Silent."
The NBC movie was about a young woman whose parents are deaf. Accompanying the producers to the stage was an interpreter for the deaf, who used sign language to relay the remarks of executive producer Marian Rees to deaf viewers.
"Love Is Never Silent," a presentation of the "Hallmark Hall of Fame," also earned an Emmy for director Joseph Sargent.
Counting the Emmys that had been given out in non-televised ceremonies Sept. 6, NBC wound up with 34 statuettes, its best showing ever and the sixth consecutive year it has led the other networks.
CBS finished with 22 awards, ABC collected 6, PBS received 11 and syndicated programs got 1.
Comedian Red Skelton was presented with the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences special Governors Award, honoring him for his career contributions to the medium.
Once a fixture on television, Skelton told the audience of 2,800 after a standing ovation: "I want to thank you for sitting down. I thought you were pulling a CBS and walking out on me."
He was referring to the network's cancellation of his show, which ran from 1953 to 1970.
"For the last 16 years I've missed you folks every Tuesday night."
Skelton, 73, was introduced by comedienne Lucille Ball, who described him as a man who was not "just one wonderful person, but a collection of comedic talents from Clem Kadiddlehopper to San Fernando Red."
Changing Old Notions
"The Golden Girls," whose ratings success last season dispelled the long-held programming notion that a mass audience would not be interested in a show about older people, also garnered Emmys for co-star Betty White, for writing and for technical direction.
"Cagney & Lacey," CBS' four-year-old police drama that depicts women succeeding in a traditional male profession, also got four Emmys, including one for co-star Sharon Gless.
The Emmys were presented by the academy in ceremonies that were televised nationally by NBC. David Letterman and Shelley Long served as hosts.
NBC's medical drama "St. Elsewhere" led all other programs with six Emmys, while the family honors went to the Thomases, Marlo and Tony, the children of comedian Danny Thomas.
Marlo won as best actress in a miniseries or special for her depiction in CBS' "Nobody's Child" of an emotionally disturbed woman who overcame her illness and earned a master's degree.
Honor for a Brother
Brother Tony is one of the executive producers of "The Golden Girls."
"Somebody's going to have to go up to Trousdale (Estates) and revive our parents," Marlo quipped.
The actress, whose first starring role on television was in the lightweight comedy "That Girl," remarked on how far she had come in her career to be chosen over a field that included Katharine Hepburn, Vanessa Redgrave, Gena Rowlands and Mare Winningham.
Another actress for whom Sunday's victory was especially sweet was Gless. She had been nominated in each of the last three years and lost each time to "Cagney & Lacey" co-star Tyne Daly.
Gless kissed Daly on her way to the stage and paid special tribute to her when she got there, saying she was sure Daly "is the most relieved woman sitting in this room."
That was not all that Daly had to celebrate. Her husband, Georg Stanford Brown, won as best director of a drama series for an episode of "Cagney & Lacey." And John Karlen, who plays Daly's husband on the series, was named best supporting actor.
Among the awards to "St. Elsewhere" was the best actor Emmy, for the second year in a row, to William Daniels, who plays Dr. Mark Craig, and the best supporting actress Emmy to Bonnie Bartlett, who plays his wife. Daniels and Bartlett are married in real life.
"Moonlighting," the light-hearted detective series on ABC, had led all programs this year with 16 nominations but wound up winning only one Emmy, for editing.
Betty White, in winning an Emmy for "The Golden Girls," was selected over co-stars Beatrice Arthur and Rue McClanahan as best actress. But she accepted the award on behalf of those two actresses and Estelle Getty, who plays Arthur's mother.
"We're a matched set," she said. "You can't break us up."
White also thanked NBC for providing an opportunity to "four old broads--er, ladies."
Source of Inspiration
One of the show's executive producers, Paul Junger Witt, said he also wanted to share the best comedy series Emmy with senior citizens: "They're our joy and our inspiration."
Michael J. Fox, who plays Alex Keaton on NBC's "Family Ties," was named best actor in a comedy series.
"I feel four feet tall," the short actor joked.
Supporting actor Emmys in the comedy categories went to Rhea Perlman of NBC's "Cheers" for the third year in a row and John Larroquette of the same network's "Night Court" for the second year in a row.
NBC's "The Cosby Show," the top-rated program on television last season and winner of the best comedy award last year, won two Emmys this year--for directing (Jay Sandrich) and best guest performer (Roscoe Lee Browne).
Honors for Loman Roles
In the categories for miniseries and dramatic specials, Dustin Hoffman and John Malkovich were honored for their respective performances as Willy and Biff Loman in the CBS presentation of "Death of a Salesman." Both had played the roles on Broadway.
The award for best supporting actress went to Colleen Dewhurst for her role as a tormenting mother-in-law in the ABC film "Between Two Women."
Dewhurst also starred in the best children's program winner, "Anne of Green Gables," which ran on PBS' "Wonderworks" series.
John Lithgow was named best guest performer in a drama series for his appearance in an episode of NBC's "Amazing Stories," called "The Doll."
Lithgow, who has been nominated for two Academy Awards and a Tony Award without ever winning, was at a loss for words when he reached the podium. "I'm sorry," he finally said. "I never win anything."
"St. Elsewhere" won for best writing in a drama series. "Late Night with David Letterman" won for best writing in a variety or music program. And the NBC movie "An Early Frost" won for writing in a mini-series or special.
Laurence Rosenthal received the Emmy for music composition for "Peter the Great," while the directing honors for a variety or music program went to Waris Hussein for "Copacabana," a CBS-TV movie that starred singer Barry Manilow.
"The Golden Girls" picked up its other award for best technical direction.
"The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts" that ran on CBS was named best variety, music or comedy special, while singer Whitney Houston won as best performer in that category for her appearance on the Grammy Awards telecast in February.