The Primetime Emmys are television’s most prestigious awards, and TV fans and critics enjoy debating each season’s crop of surprises and snubs, and this year is no exception. But if there had been a similar interest in the nominations in years past, the Internet would have been agog over some of the award show’s selections. Let’s take a look at some of the oddest nominees in Emmy history, listed in chronological order.
Name: "Lassie" Nominated for: Outstanding Drama Series (1958)
In recent years, “outstanding” dramas tend to feature anti-heroes grappling with dark forces. But in 1958, dramas were much tamer, as evidenced by a show about a little boy and his four-legged pal receiving a nod.
“Lassie” was beat out that year by “Gunsmoke,” one of three Westerns nominated in that category. Even though the show ran for an impressive 16 seasons, it only scored one nomination for best drama.
Name: “The Flintstones” Nominated for: Outstanding Comedy Series (1961)
Meet “The Flintstones,” the first animated series to ever be nominated for outstanding comedy series. (“Family Guy” would be the second in 2009.)
Fred Flintstone, Barney Rubble and the gang were a bonafide hit during its six-season run, earning the Stone Age sitcom an Emmy nod in its first year on the air. But “The Flintstones” was up against shows starring a trio of comedy legends (Bob Hope, Andy Griffith and Jack Benny), and lost to “The Jack Benny Show.”
Name: Bill Cosby Nominated for: Outstanding Actor in a Drama, I Spy (1966-68) and “The Bill Cosby Show” (1970)
So it’s not odd that Cosby scored three nominations — and three wins — for best dramatic actor for “I Spy” (and also a nod for his little-remembered series “The Bill Cosby Show.”). But it’s downright shocking that the comedy legend never received a nomination for “The Cosby Show.”
While his TV wife and kids earned nominations, the Coz himself was never recognized for his work as TV’s most iconic father, Cliff Huxtable. Reportedly, he wasn’t nominated for the sitcom at his own request.
Bill Cosby (pictured with Robert Culp) in ‘I Spy.’ Incredibly, Cosby won three Emmys for his role in the drama, but not for 'The Cosby Show.' His co-star Keshia Knight Pulliam did earn a nod at age 6.
Who knew you could be nominated for an Emmy simply for being adorable? The whole country was enthralled with “The Cosby Show” after the show’s first season, especially lovable youngest daughter, Rudy. Played by then 6-year-old Pulliam, she is the youngest actress to ever receive an Emmy nod.
And she wasn’t the only Huxtable to be nominated that year either: Her on-screen siblings Lisa Bonet and Malcolm Jamal-Warner scored nods, as did Phylicia Rashad, who played her mother.
Names: Kate Jackson and Lindsay Wagner Nominated for: Outstanding Actress in a Drama, “Charlie’s Angels” and “The Bionic Woman” (1977)
Two crimefighters on cheesy action series vied for lead actress in 1977, but a Charlie’s Angel was no match for the Bionic Woman, with Wagner winning the Emmy.
While Wagner never received another Emmy nod in her career, Jackson scored another best actress nomination the following year, but lost to to Sada Thompson of “Family.”
‘The Bionic Woman’ star Lindsay Wagner (left) beat out ‘Charlie’s Angels’ actress Kate Jackson (far right) for an Emmy in 1978.
Name: Bronson Pinchot Nominated for: Outstanding Actor in a Comedy, “Perfect Strangers” (1987)
The actor who portrayed Balki Bartokomous earned his first and only nomination for the TGIF comedy at the peak of his character’s popularity (which could explain why he got the nod in the first place).
His category was actually very competitive, with Pinchot facing off against 80s stalwarts Ted Danson (“Cheers”), Michael J. Fox (“Family Ties”), Bob Newhart (“Newhart”) and Harry Anderson (“Night Court”).
We’ll never know if Pinchot would have performed a “dance of joy” if he was awarded the Emmy, since Fox nabbed the prize.
Name: Don Johnson Nominated for: Outstanding Actor in a Drama, “Miami Vice” (1985)
Don Johnson was at the height of his stardom thanks to the success of “Miami Vice,” which led him to nab his first and only nod for his role as Det. James Crockett on the flashy cop drama.
But with three competitors from the acclaimed dramas “St. Elsewhere” and “Hill Street Blues” — plus Tom Selleck in “Magnum P.I.” — it’s no surprise that Emmy gold eluded Johnson. But he did score a Golden Globe in 1986.
Name: “Suddenly Susan” Nominated for: Outstanding Special Effects (1998)
Here’s a real head-scratcher: Brooke Shields’ 90s comedy earned a nomination for best special effects. Normally, the category is reserved for sci-fi series, so why would a ho-hum sitcom get a nomination too?
The nominated episode, “I Love You, I Think,” featured the then-revolutionary special effect of digitally inserting Susan into a trio of classic movies: “Tarzan,” “The Philadelphia Story” and “Robin Hood.” Nowadays, that trick is used regularly in TV shows, commercials and many, many Emmy skits.
Name: Ann Jillian Nominated for: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Special, “The Ann Jillian Story” (1988)
So this might be one of the most unique nominations in Emmy history: Ann Jillian was nominated for playing herself in a TV movie.
“The Ann Jillian Story” focused on the actress’ battle with cancer. In some ways, it makes sense that the star would be honored for playing “Ann Jillian” — after all, who could portray her better than herself? Alas, she lost the Emmy to perennial award winner Jessica Tandy.
Name: “Anna Nicole” Nominated for: Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup For A Series, Miniseries, Movie Or A Special (2014)
This might be the first — and only time — that fake breasts receive an Emmy nod. Lifetime’s Anna Nicole Smith biopic received a nomination for the prosthetic breasts that actress Agnes Bruckner wore to portray the buxom model/TV personality.