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Friday, May 16, 2014

What Are The Odds To Win Three Acting Emmys In A Row?

In 2014, two actresses have a chance to three-peat; to earn three Emmy's in three consecutive years. Those actresses are Claire Danes for her work on Showtime's Homeland and Julia Louis-Dreyfus for her work on HBO's Veep. Both actresses have won the past two years, and their nominations for 2014 are essentially a lock. The real question is not whether they'll be nominated, but whether they'll win.

In order to help answer this question, I scrolled through the entire history of all the acting nominations (both lead and supporting) the Primetime Emmy's have ever given out. While truthfully, the entire history of the Emmy's has absolutely no bearing on whether Claire Danes or Julia Louis-Dreyfus will individually win this year, I think it's a fun place to start.

Here are the following rules I set up for this "study":
- The actor or actress has to earn a nomination from the same show in the same role
- The actor or actress has to be nominated in the same category all consecutive years
- The actor or actress has to have won in two consecutive years
- The actor or actress has to have earned a nomination in the third year directly following his or her two wins
- If an actor or actress actually does win 3 or 4 times in a row, their failure to win the next year isn't counted

All of the aforementioned criteria applies to Claire Danes and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. I'm not looking to see if an actor or actress can win Emmy's in their lifetime, I'm looking to see how historically probable it is to win three in a row.


There have been 41 different instances where an actor won two nominations in a row and then was nominated again their 3rd year. Out of those 41 different instances, only 15 went on to win at least 3 in a row. Historically speaking, if an actor or actress wins twice in a row, their chance to win the very next year is only at 37%.

Here is the entire list of people (in alphabetical order) that have won at least three straight acting Emmy's in a row:

- Don Adams (Get Smart)
- Barbara Bain (Mission: Impossible)
- Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
- Tyne Daly (Cagney & Lacey)
- Michael J. Fox (Family Ties)
- Valarie Harper (The Mary Tyler Moore Show)
- Helen Hunt (Mad About You)*
- Don Knotts (The Andy Griffith Show)
- John Larroquette (Night Court)*
- Laurie Metcalf (Rosanne)
- Nancy Marchand (Lou Grant)
- Carroll O'Connor (All In The Family)
- Jeremy Piven (Entourage)
- Rhea Pearlman (Cheers)
- Doris Roberts (Everybody Loves Raymond)

*designates actor/actress won 4 times in a row

Throughout my research, I noticed there were a handful of instances where an actor or actress won in their first year, lost in their second year, and won again in their third year (8 different instances to be exact) and a handful of other instances where the actor or actress won on their first attempt, lost the very next year, and then won twice in a row (6 different instances to be exact). While those specific examples aren't exactly like the situation that Claire Danes and Julia Louis-Dreyfus find themselves in and were not counted in the study, they're further examples of just how difficult it is to win more than twice in a row.


- Allison Janney (The West Wing) actually did win thrice in a row while playing the same role, but she did it in different categories. In 2000 and 2001 she won in the Best Supporting Actress (Drama) category and in 2002 she won in the Best Lead Actress (Drama) category.
- The Sopranos taking so long in between seasons skewed the numbers a little bit. James Gandolfini won in 2000, 2001, and 2003 for his work as Tony Soprano, but the show wasn't eligible in 2002. Edie Falco won in 2002 and 2003 for her work as Carmela Soprano and was nominated but didn't win in 2000 and 2004.
- Valarie Harper won 3 straight Emmy's between 1971-1973, but tied with Sally Struthers (All In The Family) in 1972.
- Art Carney won 3 Emmy's in row, yet did it between 2 different shows. In 1954 and 1955, Carney won Best Supporting Actor in a Regular Series for his work on The Jackie Gleason Show and in 1956 he won Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his work on The Honeymooners.
- The last actor to win at least three in a row is Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) when he did it from 2008-2010. The last actor to win two in a row and then lose on their 3rd go-around was Julie Bowen (Modern Family). She won in 2011 and 2012, yet lost in 2013 to Merritt Weaver (Nurse Jackie).
- The very first actor to win three in a row is Don Knotts (The Andy Griffith Show) when he did it from 1961-1963. The first actor to win two in a row and then lose on their 3rd go-around was Werner Klemperer (Hogan's Heroes). He won in 1968 and 1969, yet lost in 1970 to Michael Constantine (Room 222).


Won Twice In A Row, But Lost The Third Time (actor/show/year of 3rd yr loss)

- Ed Asner (The Mary Tyler Moore Show) (1973)
- Alec Baldwin (30 Rock) (2010)
- Bonnie Bartlett (St. Elsewhere) (1988)
- Candice Bergen (Murphy Brown) (1991)**
- Julie Bowen (Modern Family) (2013)
- Glenn Close (Damages) (2010)
- Michael Conrad (Hill Street Blues) (1983)
- Ellen Corby (The Waltons) (1977)
- William Daniels (St. Elsewhere) (1987)
- Larry Drake (L.A. Law) (1990)
- Dennis Franz (N.Y.P.D. Blue) (1998)**
- Brad Garrett (Everybody Loves Raymond) (2004)**
- Kelsey Grammar (Frasier) (1996)
- Sharon Gless (Cagney & Lacey) (1988)
- Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond) (2002)
- Werner Klemperer (Hogan's Heroes) (1970)
- Michael Learned (The Waltons) (1975)
- John Lithgow (3rd Rock From The Sun) (1998)**
- Mary Tyler Moore (The Mary Tyler Moore Show) (1975)
- Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory) (2012)**
- David Hyde Pierce (Frasier) (2000)
- Michael Richards (Seinfeld) (1995)
- Tony Shalhoub (Monk) (2007)
- Jean Stapleton (All In The Family) (1975)
- Daniel J. Travanti (Hill Street Blues) (1983)
- Betty White (The Golden Girls) (1977)

**Lost out on 4-peat with loss (W, W, L, W)

Won First Year, Lost Second Year, Won Third Year (actor/show/year of 2nd yr loss)

- Ed Asner (Lou Grant) (1979)
- Judd Hirsch (Taxi) (1982)
- Allison Janney (The West Wing) (2003)
- Kristen Johnston (3rd Rock From The Sun) (1998)
- Jack Klugman (The Odd Couple) (1972)
- Kristy McNichol (Family) (1978)
- Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family) (2011)
- Loretta Swift (M*A*S*H) (1981)

Won First Year, Lost Second Year, Won Third AND Fourth Year (actor/show/year of 2nd yr loss)

- Kathy Baker (Picket Fences) (1994)
- Candice Bergen (Murphy Brown) (1993)
- Ellen Corby (The Waltons) (1974)
- Edie Falco (The Sopranos) (2000)
- Dennis Franz (N.Y.P.D. Blue) (1995)
- Tony Shalhoub (Monk) (2004)

NOTE: For all of the aforementioned lists, the actor or actress was actually nominated for the same role on the same show in the same category during their year of loss as during their winning years.


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