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Emmys flashback to the first ceremony: Six awards, $5 tickets, and the big winner was a ventriloquist

Emmys flashback to the first ceremony: Six awards, $5 tickets, and the big winner was a ventriloquist

There are so many categories for the Emmy Awards that the Television Academy hands out the statuettes during three very long ceremonies. But that wasn’t the case with the first Emmy Awards on Jan. 25, 1949. In fact, there were less than a million TV sets in the U.S. at the time.

The Emmys took place at the Hollywood Athletic Club. Rudy Vallee was slated to host the event but had to leave town. So, radio star Walter O’Keefe emceed the proceedings. Tickets were $5. Six awards were handed out including a special award for Louis McManus who designed the Emmy. The ceremony was broadcast on the local L.A. station Ktsl, which is now Kcbs. -TV.

Back in 1998 I talked to three of the winners of the 1st Emmy Awards for the L.A. Times.

Then 22-year-old ventriloquist Shirley Dinsdale — who appeared on Ktla with her puppet Judy Splinters-she

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