25 Stars You Won't Believe Have Emmys
From singers to former first ladies, these are the most surprising Emmy winners ever.
When you think of the Emmy Awards, you usually think of huge stars from the small screen. After all, it is the biggest night in television. However, in addition to TV regulars like Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Michael J. Fox racking up wins, there are also those unexpected stars who wind up taking home trophies—sometimes for more obscure categories. As a result, there are several big names who you probably don't even realize have an Emmy (or several!) in their collection. From presidents to first ladies, and Grammy-winning singers to Oscar-winning directors, here are 25 stars you won't believe have won Emmys.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
To date, there is only one president who has ever won an Emmy Award, and that president is Dwight D. Eisenhower. In 1955, he became the first president to give a televised news conference, and the following year, he earned an honorary Emmy, thanks to his appreciation of television.
Fun fact: Originally, the Television Academy, which hands out the Emmys, wanted to call their TV award the Ike, short for iconoscope, an old-fashioned video camera tube. But since that was Eisenhower's nickname at the time, they changed the statue's gender and went another route.
Justin Timberlake's career was far from over when *NSYNC disbanded in the early aughts. On the contrary, the successful solo singer went on to win not one, not two, but four Emmys, all of which were for his work as a host or songwriter on Saturday Night Live (and yes, one is for "**** in a Box.")
In addition to being nominated five times at the Emmys for Outstanding Reality/Competition Program for judging the juggernaut that was American Idol, Paula Abdul has also been nominated three times in the Outstanding Choreography category, ultimately winning twice in 1989 and 1990. Those wins came from her work on The Tracey Ullman Show as well as for her performance of her own song "(It's Just) The Way That You Love Me" at the 1990 American Music Awards.
While it was just an honorary Trustees Award at the 1962 Emmys, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis is interestingly the only first lady to have ever won an Emmy. Scratching your head wondering what the win was for? She took home a trophy for her Tour of the White House special on CBS News with Charles Collingwood on February 14, 1962.
The sitting first lady—then-wife to President John F. Kennedy—didn't end up attending the ceremony, but then-Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson's wife, Lady Bird Johnson, accepted on her behalf. Keep this handy-dandy fact in the back of your mind for your next trivia night!
In 2018, John Legend became the first Black man in history to achieve EGOT status when he earned an Emmy for executive producing NBC's Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert. "It's kind of surreal," Legend told Entertainment Tonight afterwards. "I never dreamed that I would be here winning an Emmy and being in that rare group of people that've won all four of these major academy awards."
Though the name Ingrid Bergman is synonymous with cinematic classics like Casablanca, the actor is actually a two-time Emmy winner, too. Her first win came in 1960 in the Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress (Lead or Support) category for playing The Governess on Startime, and she won again in 1982 in the Lead Actress in a Limited Series or a Movie category for playing Golda Meir in A Woman Called Golda. Sadly, exactly three weeks before winning that second award, Bergman passed away from breast cancer at the age of 67.
James Earl Jones
He may be the voice of Mufasa in The Lion King and Darth Vader in the Star Wars movies, but James Earl Jones' career stretches far beyond the big screen. Not only has the 90-year-old actor won two Emmys, but Jones has the distinction of having won two Emmys in the same year. In 1991, he won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for playing Gabriel Bird on Gabriel's Fire and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Special for playing Junius Johnson in Heat Wave.
It shouldn't come as a surprise then that Jones is one of the few actors to have achieved non-competitive EGOT status—meaning he's won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony, but not all in competitive categories (his 2011 Oscar win was honorary).
Having starred in classics like Breakfast at Tiffany's and My Fair Lady, most people think of Audrey Hepburn, first and foremost, as a movie star. However, the legendary actor actually won a posthumous Emmy in 1993, just months after passing away at the age of 63. The win was in the Outstanding Individual Achievement in Informational Programming category for her PBS docuseries Gardens of the World with Audrey Hepburn. And with that Emmy, Hepburn became the first person to obtain EGOT status posthumously.
No doubt you're well aware that The Monkees (Davy Jones, Mickey Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork) were originally formed for a TV show—you're probably singing the theme song right now—but were you aware that the show took home the award for Outstanding Comedy Series in 1967? It was facing some serious competition as well: the other nominees were no less of a group than Hogan's Heroes, Bewitched, Get Smart, and The Andy Griffith Show.
Helen Mirren may be certified film royalty—courtesy of her Oscar-winning performance in 2006's The Queen—but this British dame has actually snagged more Emmys than Oscars throughout her career. Mirren has won a total of four Emmys in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or a Movie category: for Prime Suspect: Scent of Darkness (1995), The Passion of Ayn Rand (1999), Elizabeth I (2005), and Prime Suspect: The Final Act (2006).
While she may be known for showing us her "True Colors" as a singer, Cyndi Lauper has actually won an Emmy for her acting as well. On the iconic '90s sitcom Mad About You, starring Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt, Lauper played Marianne Lugasso, the on-again/off-again girlfriend/ex-wife of John Pankow's Ira Buchman. Though she was nominated for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series in 1994 for her role on the show, the "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" singer didn't nab an Emmy in the category until the following year.
You probably know that national treasure Tom Hanks has two Academy Awards, but did you know that he also has seven Emmys? He's been nominated for eight as a producer, winning trophies for From the Earth to the Moon (1998), Band of Brothers (2002), John Adams (2008), The Pacific (2010), Game Change (2012), and Oliver Kitteredge (2015). He's also been nominated twice for directing and once for writing. As a performer, Hanks has only been nominated twice—for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series after hosting Saturday Night Live in 2017 and this year, for hosting the Celebrating America special.
Sharon Stone is known for being a steamy film star, earning an Oscar nomination back in 1996 for Casino. But the Basic Instinct actor also has an Emmy to her name. She won in 2004 for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series after playing an actor-turned-client in the legal drama, The Practice.
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While we all think of her as Rose in Titanic, Kate Winslet has taken on big roles for the small screen, too. Though she was first nominated for an Emmy in 2006 for her guest-starring performance on the HBO series Extras, the actress ultimately brought home a trophy for her role as Mildred Pierce in the eponymous HBO miniseries in 2011.
You may have assumed famed film director Martin Scorsese can't make time for television—but he's actually won more Emmys than Oscars! To date, the Hollywood hot shot has three Emmys: one for directing the pilot episode of Boardwalk Empire in 2012, and two for directing HBO's 2011 documentary George Harrison: Living in the Material World. (For comparison, he only has one Oscar for 2006's The Departed.)
It's hard to think of Julie Andrews as anything other than Mary Poppins, Maria in The Sound of Music, or the queen of Genovia in The Princess Diaries, but as it turns out, the actor has also graced our TV screens quite a few times. In fact, the British icon has been nominated for nine Emmys thus far, winning two: one her work on The Julie Andrews Hour in 1973 and another for hosting PBS's Broadway: The American Musical in 2005. Andrews is just a single award away from achieving EGOT status, so can we get this dame a Tony already?!
Sure, she's one of the most influential singers in the world, but you might be surprised to find out that some of the trophies in Barbra Streisand's collection are for her television work. Over the course of her career, the "The Way We Were" singer has actually been nominated by the Television Academy a total of nine times—and four times, she's gone home with the Emmy. Streisand is another performer who has achieved EGOT status, though one award—in this case, her Tony—was a non-competitive win.
You're probably familiar with the outrageous Katt Williams from his standup comedy, but he's also an Emmy-winning actor. Williams was awarded the Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series trophy in 2018 after a memorable appearance on Donald Glover's FX show, Atlanta.
We might know her best for her Oscar-worthy performance in Cabaret, but Liza Minnelli has won an Emmy, too. Out of four total nominations, she has won the coveted statuette once—in 1973, thanks to her made-for-TV concert movie Liza with a "Z." Minnelli is yet another member of the EGOT club, though her Grammy win was also a non-competitive one.
Yes, even Wolverine has an Emmy (and a Tony, too)! In addition to snagging a Tony in 2004 for his performance in The Boy from Oz, Hugh Jackman has hosted the Broadway awards show four times. And, for his efforts as host of the 2004 ceremony, he earned an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program in 2005. Two award-winning birds, one stone!
Along with his partner, Jayne Torvill, ice dancer Christopher Dean won Olympic gold for Great Britain in the 1984 Winter Games. And he also has two Emmy Awards. He was nominated five times for choreographing skating routines for the televised special, Smucker's Stars on Ice, and won in 2003 and 2005.
Bette Midler has proven time and time again that her talent knows no bounds, but since few people know her as a TV star, you may be surprised to learn she's snagged a grand total of nine Emmy nominations and three wins. Her first win came in 1978 in the Outstanding Comedy or Music Special category for Bette Midler: Ol' Red Hair Is Back; her second win was in the Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program category in 1992 for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson; and most recently, she won Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Music Program in 1997 for Bette Midler in Concert: Diva Las Vegas. Midler is just one award away from being able to put "EGOT winner" on her résumé—all she needs is that highly-coveted Oscar.
Taylor Swift may be one of today's biggest music stars, but did you know she has an Emmy win under her belt, too? The 10-time Grammy winner made headlines in 2015 when she snagged an Emmy for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media—Original Interactive Program for her AMEX Unstaged: Taylor Swift Experience, which allowed fans to explore the set of her "Blank Space" music video.
Superstar composer Lin-Manuel Miranda won his Emmy a year before Hamilton premiered on Broadway. Having already seen his Broadway debut In the Heights win big at the theater awards show in 2008, Miranda was in demand for projects like writing songs for host Neil Patrick Harris to sing at the 67th Annual Tony Awards. "Bigger!," the opening number, won an Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics Emmy for Miranda in 2014. He was also nominated for Outstanding Original Song at the Daytime Emmys that year, for a song he wrote for Sesame Street. Other Primetime Emmy nominations include Guest Actor nods for Saturday Night Live (2017) and Curb Your Enthusiasm (2019), as well as producing Best Miniseries or Television Film nominee, Fosse/Verdon (2019). In 2021, he's up for two more Emmys, thanks to the Disney+ version of Hamilton.
While Cher has been nominated for seven Emmys—mostly for her '70s hit series The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour—the singer didn't actually win one until 2003. That honor came courtesy of her NBC concert special Cher: The Farewell Tour, which was enough to snag the "Believe" singer the trophy in the Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special category.