It’s been a rough year, and though the Emmy Awards are largely about escapism, there’s one annual segment that always brings us back to reality: the In Memoriam montage. We’ve lost more people than usual this year, with a pandemic that has no end in sight, some of whom made long-lasting impressions on television history. This year’s montage began with someone whose death is both very recent and which may alter the course of the future.
Host Jimmy Kimmel began with a brief tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Supreme Court justice who passed away on Friday at the age of 87. From there, Kimmel introduced singer H.E.R., who played a stirring cover of the Prince-written “Nothing Compares 2 U,” made popular by Sinead O’Connor. And from there, we were reminded of all the members of the industry that have left us since last year’s ceremony.
There were TV idols, like Regis Philbin, James Lipton, Jerry Stiller, Jim Lehrer, Robert Conrad, Bill Macy, Rip Taylor, and Caroll Spinney, the Sesame Street puppeteer who voiced Big Bird. There were performers who performed in both film and television, like Shirley Knight, Robert Foster, Brian Dennehy, Fred Willard, René Auberjonois, Buck Henry, Wilford Brimley, Diana Rigg, and Carl Reiner. There were movie stars who occasionally dipped their toes in television, like Max Von Sydow, Ian Holm, and Kirk Douglas. And there were those who largely worked behind the scenes, among them songwriter Adam Schlesinger, of Crazy Ex Girlfriend and That Thing You Do!, and filmmaker Lynn Shelton.
The montage even saved the final spot for a movie star: Chadwick Boseman, whose untimely death in early September sent shockwaves across the industry. They, and more, will all be missed dearly.