News World On This Day: The first Emmy Awards ceremony is held
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On This Day: The first Emmy Awards ceremony is held

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Dick Van Dyke, Fred Astaire, Julie Andrews and other major television stars have all had the honour of receiving an Emmy Award.

Cicely Tyson won two Emmy Awards in 1974. Photo: Getty

It’s one of the most prestigious awards nights in Hollywood, designed to celebrate the very best of the television industry.

And it all began on this day in 1949.

That’s when the first Emmy Awards ceremony was held at the Hollywood Athletic Club, co-founded by Charlie Chaplin.

At the time, only about 50,000 American households had a television set at home, compared to about 121 million today.

Back then, televisions were exciting.

They had small screens and only a handful of channels to choose from, and all the shows were in black and white.

A Belmont Radio Corporation television receiver photographed in Chicago, Illinois, 1949. Photo: Getty

America fell in love with them.

But up until that point, there wasn’t a formal organisation where TV experts could discuss the rapidly growing industry’s future.

Actors in rehearsal for The Dick Van Dyke Show, 1963 in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Getty

That changed when Syd Cassyd, a former film editor for star director Frank Capra, took it upon himself to start an academy.

After some deliberation, Cassyd decided it would be a good idea to raise the academy’s profile by having an annual awards night to celebrate excellence in the industry.

After rejecting dozens of designs, Cassyd and his colleagues selected the now-famous statuette depicting a winged woman holding an atom in her extended arms.

The ‘Emmy’ statuette. Photo: Getty

And so the Emmys was born.

On this day in 1949, American songwriter Walter O’Keefe hosted the first ceremony.

Tickets cost just $5 to attend.

The first Emmy was awarded to Shirley Dinsdale, a ventriloquist who starred with a puppet sidekick on a comedy called The Judy Splinters Show.