Why are the Emmy Awards Called Emmys?

Rebecca S. asks: The other day you answered why the Oscars are called the Oscars, now why are the Emmy Awards called “Emmy”?

Now You KnowThis one’s got a more succinct and well documented answer than the Oscar question. Pioneering TV engineer (and third American Academy of Television Arts President) Harry Lubcke suggested that the name “Immy” be used, named after the “image orthicon tube” that was nicknamed the “Immy”.  The Academy members liked it, but felt is should be more feminine, to match the statuette, so switched it to the name “Emmy”.

Runner up for the name of the award was “Ike”, suggested by Academy founder Syd Cassyd. In this case, he was naming it after the Iconoscope tube, which incidentally got its name from the Greek εἰκών (“image”).  So even had it been named “Ike”, it would have still ultimately been named after “image”.  “Ike” was rejected as Academy members thought that people would think the name was coined after Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The statuette itself, of a winged woman holding an atom, was designed in 1948 by TV engineer and editor Louis McManus.  His wife, Dorothy, served as the model for the statuette.  Unlike the Academy Award statuette, where only one design was considered, this design was the 48th looked at by the Academy, with the previous 47 being rejected.  The idea behind the design is that the winged woman represents the muse of art and the atom she’s holding represents “the science of television”.

For his design, Louis McManus was awarded a “Special Award” Emmy in the first year the Emmys were given out (1948).  Funny enough, his Emmy was not the statuette he designed, but rather a plaque.

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