The In Memoriam segment is the most gut-wrenching part of any awards show, and the one made for the 2018 Emmys was no different. The montage — introduced by Tina Fey and, as always, honoring the many stars and talents who’ve passed on over the last year — was extra-gutting this year, as the first person it showed only departed this plane a month ago: Aretha Franklin.
The Queen of Soul was shown in a TV clip from the 1960s, singing “Amazing Grace,” a song that played over the entire montage. From there, the segment proceeded through haunting black-and-white images and clips of bygone greats. There was Anthony Bourdain. There was Harry Anderson. There was Jerry Van Dyke. There was Benson star Robert Guillaume. John Mahoney, a character actor who achieved godhood on Frasier, briefly came back to life. Ditto Charlotte Rae, who played Edna Garrett over two shows, Diff’rent Strokes and Facts of Life.
Franklin was more music than TV, but the segment made sure to honor those who were known for other mediums but crossed over to TV from time to time. Burt Reynolds, who revitalized his career in the ’90s with Evening Shade, got a nod. Hugh Hefner, who produced TV on the Playboy channel, did too. Same with John McCain. And there was playwright Neil Simon, who took one of his biggest Broadway sensations, The Odd Couple, to the movies, in 1968, and then to TV, starting in 1970.
Aretha Franklin came back to close the segment out, “Amazing Grace” still going strong.