Before this year, the six women competing for lead actress in a drama series at the Emmy Awards had tallied up an impressive 26 nominations among them, with five wins. Returning nominees Glenn Close ("Damages") and Mariska Hargitay ("Law & Order: SVU") are two of the three most recent winners in this category; the other, Sally Field ("Brothers & Sisters"), was dropped from the race after three bids.
Reigning champ Close won this award for each of the first two seasons of the FX legal drama. She took home her first Emmy Award (out of eight performance nods) for headlining the 1995 telefilm "Serving in Silence." This year marks Hargitay's seventh consecutive nomination for "Law & Order: SVU," with her win coming in 2006.
Julianna Margulies -- who contends for the freshman hit "The Good Wife" -- was nominated for all six of the seasons she was on "ER." She won the supporting award for the first year of that ratings smash in 1994, then contended again in that category the following year before moving up, albeit unsuccessfully, to the lead race for four years.
All three of these women have won Golden Globes for their Emmy-nominated roles -- Hargitay and Close on the first of their two nods in 2004 and 2007, respectively, and Margulies at the most recent ceremony.
Although Kyra Sedgwick has yet to prevail at the Emmys despite four previous nominations for "The Closer," she did win on the second of her five consecutive Golden Globe nods in 2006. While this is the first Emmy recognition for January Jones ("Mad Men"), she did contend in the lead race at the last two Golden Globes. This is the first Emmy nomination for Connie Britton ("Friday Night Lights").
The men in the lead actor drama series race have 17 previous performance nominations but only two wins. Both of those were for reigning champ Bryan Cranston for the first two seasons of "Breaking Bad." Before these victories, Cranston was a three-time also ran in the supporting actor comedy series race for "Malcolm in the Middle" (2002, 2003, 2006).
This year, Hugh Laurie earned his fourth consecutive and fifth overall bid for "House." He remains winless have losing to Cranston twice and James Spader ("Boston Legal") in 2005 and 2007. "Dexter" star Michael C. Hall lost those two recent races to Cranston and was bested in his 2002 lead actor bid for "Six Feet Under" by Michael Chiklis ("The Shield"). And Jon Hamm ("Mad Men") was also an also-ran to Cranston both years. Hamm is a double nominee again this year, contending for the second time in the guest comedy actor race for a recurring role on "30 Rock." Though all three are Emmy runner-ups, they each won with the Golden Globes -- Laurie (2005, 2006), Hamm (2007) and Hall (2009).
TV vets Kyle Chandler ("Friday Night Lights") and Matthew Fox ("Lost") are first-time contenders in this category. Chandler was a 2006 guest drama actor nominee for "Grey's Anatomy"; he lost to Christian Clemenson ("Boston Legal").
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Photo: Glenn Close and Bryan Cranston at the 2009 Emmy Awards. Credit: Academy of Television Arts & Sciences