1987 Emmys

Demi Moore and Bruce Willis at the 1987 Emmy Awards.

Ron Galella
May 16, 2023
In The Mix

Emmy Moments: Bruce Willis

This year the Emmy Awards turn seventy-five! Get in the spirit with our series of time-defying flashbacks.

The crowd surged around Emmys host Bruce Willis as he hit the red carpet at the 1987 awards with Demi Moore, who would become his wife two months later. In their entrance to the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, the stylish couple — he in a full-length topcoat over his tuxedo, she in a shoulder- baring gown — seemed to signal a new era for the Emmys.

Indeed, the broadcast marked a first for Fox, which had gone on the air only one year earlier and already snagged a three-year deal for the Emmys. Also new: the Television Academy had announced the Emmy nominations at 5:30 AM Pacific time, an early-bird bid for airtime on the New York–based morning shows that continued through 2014.

And this happened: the time cap on acceptance speeches was lifted. So, no surprise, the 1987 show set a record for the longest Emmys, coming in just twenty seconds short of four hours. During the program, Willis won for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, for his role as P.I. David Addison in ABC's Moonlighting . He spoke leisurely after accepting his award, saying (in part): "It has been said that an Emmy for Moonlighting is a vote for anarchy, because we spend a little more money, we take a little more time to do what we do. ... I think people want to see better- quality work. And if it takes a little more time or a couple more dollars, what the hell!"

He went on to thank creator Glenn Gordon Caron, colead Cybill Shepherd and many other colleagues, as well as his mom and the four people who put him on his career path. "The first three you know as The Three Stooges. ... The last is Al Pacino, who in [1973] with his performance in The Godfather inspired me to be an actor. It's a great job. I'm very proud to be an actor. Thank you very much."

See more Emmy Moments

This article originally appeared in emmy magazine issue #5, 2023.

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