The honor roll for the supporting actress in a drama series category at the Emmy Awards is almost as varied as the one for actors. The first winner of the supporting actress in a drama series award in 1979 was Kristy McNichol ("Family"), who had also won a more expansive race that included telefilms two years earlier. Then Nancy Marchand ("Lou Grant") won three years in a row (1980-1982), adding to her win in the wider race in 1978.
In the 27 races since then, there have been just three repeat winners for the same role: Bonnie Bartlett, "St. Elsewhere" (1986, 1987); Alison Janney, "The West Wing" (2000, 2001); and Blythe Danner, "Huff" (2005, 2006). Tyne Daly won this race for both "Christy" (1996) and "Judging Amy" (2003). All of this adds up to 27 different characters prevailing in the 31-year history of this Emmy (as compared with 27 different actors).
None of this year's six nominees has ever won this race, and just one of them -- Rose Byrne ("Damages") -- is a previous contender for this prize. However, two of these women are past Emmy champs in other categories. Christine Baranksi ("The Good Wife") won the first of her four consecutive supporting Emmy noms for the laffer "Cybill" in 1995, while Sharon Gless won the fourth and fifth (1986, 1987) of her six consecutive lead drama bids for the cop drama "Cagney and Lacey."
Elisabeth Moss -- one of the "Mad Men" women -- was in the lead race last year, while the other -- Christina Hendricks -- is a first-time Emmy nominee, as is "The Good Wife" featured player Archie Panjabi.
Gold Derby broke the news last month that last year's champ -- Cherry Jones ("24") -- had decided not to submit herself for consideration this year. As she wrote to Gold Derby at the time: "I love and adore everyone I worked with on '24' and am actively missing them. This job has offered me time with my elderly parents, given me new lifelong friends, a bank account, and the memory of last year's Emmy night which was one hell of a delicious ride. So honestly it never occurred to me (or my two agents who know me well) to submit me this year. One of the lessons in life is to know when to leave well enough alone and be grateful."
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Photo credit: Sharon Gless in "Cagney & Lacey" (CBS) and "Burn Notice" (USA Network)