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Emmy: What's in a name?
Topic Started: Sep 17 2011, 11:23 AM (237 Views)
Jobie Guzman
Unregistered

Why It's Called an Emmy
by: Tim Appelo, The Hollywood Reporter

Why do they call the Emmy Award "Emmy"?

"It's a feminization of 'Immy,' which is short for the image orthicon tube," explains John Leverence, senior vice president of awards for the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. The image orthicon, which revolutionized TV, was originally built to guide flying explosive weapons in World War II. "The objective was the guided torpedo, but it ended up being used in television," said RCA engineer Paul Wymer. The 4,000 "Emmys," as engineers fondly called the devices, didn't win the war, because the weapons they were used in weren't quite reliable, but the orthicon later made TV feasible. It was called "the atomic bomb of television."

The woman on the Emmy statue has an even deeper history than her name. "The artist Louis McManus's original 1946 painting for the Emmy was a very Valkyrie kind of character," says Leverence. "When the actual statue was designed, it became much cleaner, like Art Nouveau lamps I've seen in antique shops. I've often thought McManus took that basic Art Nouveau pose, stuck wings on her, had her stand a bit more upright, and there was Emmy. Oscar stood on a film reel, Emmy on a global grid. Emmy appeared as a lithe Art Nouveau muse of art who exalted the electron of science."

LA County Museum of Art curator Elizabeth Williams traces Emmy all the way back to the Nike or Winged Victory of Samothrace, sculpted in the second century B.C. for the Sanctuary of the Great Gods, unearthed in 1863, installed in the Louvre, and inspirational to the Art Nouveau lampmakers Leverence thinks inspired McManus. "It's the image of Nike, the goddess of victory, her head and garments thrown back as if she's flying," says Williams. "You want the goddess of victory on your side."

The most modern influence on the Emmy sculpture may have been the most important: Louis's wife, Dorothy McManus, his beautiful model. "Maybe they should be called the Dorothies," says Williams.
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