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August 12, 2013

History of the Emmy Statuette

Sandra Parker
  • Original Design Concept of Emmy

    Original Design Concept of Emmy, watercolor by Lou McManus, 1948

  • An Early Regional Emmy Statuette

    An Early Regional Emmy Statuette

  • The Emmy Statuette

    The Emmy Statuette

  • Emmy graphical treatment 2014

    Emmy graphical representation, redesigned 2014

It was the last one considered by the Television Academy, but it ended up being the best.

After rejecting 47 proposals for what was to become the Emmy statuette, Academy members in 1948 selected a design that television engineer Louis McManus had created using his wife as a model.

The statuette of a winged woman holding an atom has since become the symbol of the Television Academy's goal of supporting and uplifting the arts and science of television: The wings represent the muse of art; the atom the electron of science.

After selecting the design for the statuette that would reward excellence in the television industry, Academy members were faced with decision number two: What to name the symbol.

Academy founder Syd Cassyd suggested "Ike," the nickname for the television iconoscope tube. But with a national war hero named Dwight D. "Ike" Eisenhower, Academy members thought they needed a less well-known name. Harry Lubcke, a pioneer television engineer and the third Academy president, suggested "Immy," a term commonly used for the early image orthicon camera. The name stuck and was later modified to Emmy, which members thought was more appropriate for a female symbol.

Each year, the R.S. Owens company in Chicago is charged with manufacturing the close to four hundred statuettes ordered for the Primetime Emmys, which are awarded at the Creative Arts ceremony and Primetime Emmy telecast. In addition, between two hundred fifty and three hundred statuettes are ordered annually for the Los Angeles Area Emmy Awards, honoring excellence in local broadcasting.

Although the numbers of categories rarely change, the possibility of multiple winners prompts the Academy to order extra statuettes. Surplus awards are stored for the following year's ceremony.

Each Primetime Emmy statuette weighs six pounds, twelve-and-a-half ounces, and is made of copper, nickel, silver and gold. Each takes five-and-one-half hours to make and is handled with white gloves to prevent fingerprints.

Each Los Angeles Area Emmy statuette weighs three pounds, five ounces.

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