Watchworthy

The Best Emmy Hosts Ever 

Lisa Waugh
Updated September 18, 2018 9.1k votes 1.1k voters 25.1k views 54 items

Hosting the Emmy awards is a tough gig. Just showing up for the Primetime Emmys requires wit and reflexes so Emmy hosts who have done well make it look easy. That's one of the reasons this Emmy hosts list is one of those rare times where the best and worst overlap. 

Opinions on Emmy hosts can go either way, depending on who you ask. Sometimes people remember the Primetime Emmys like witnesses at a car accident. As long as no one was seriously injured, it wasn’t so bad. Others have razor sharp recall of the Emmy Awards and a strict criteria for Emmy hosts. That criteria skews wildly with wine. That's not surprising for an awards show that has given Emmys to a ventriloquist (the first Emmy ever given), the yellow first down line on the NFL broadcasts, and the most Emmys to the Oscars.

Even if a host is talented and has a huge following, that’s not a guaranteed win as an Emmy host. A tough industry crowd, pre-awards cocktails, and egos that strain the max capacity of the room all make for a 50/50 shot at success. The only host who consistently and expertly handled the crowd was Johnny Carson as host of the Emmys eight times.

The Emmy hosts list is varied and strange. Top comedians and talk show hosts made sense, but Bruce Willis? Bruce Willis hosted the Emmys? It was 1987, he was white hot from Moonlighting, and won an Emmy that year, but in retrospect, it’s proof that time chipped away at both his hair and his enthusiasm.

Hosting the Emmy Awards takes careful planning, the ability to wing it, and the super power of reading an audience. Barreling forward when it’s not working isn’t smart. Finding the right Emmy host is a talent in and of itself and the Emmy Awards have tried it all. Five hosts, no Emmy hosts, and letting California Governor Earl Warren host in 1951.

Who takes home the faux gold statue as your favorite among all the Emmy hosts? Upvote the Emmy hosts who made you laugh, cry, and schlep toward the limo with more gift bags than they were allotted.
Data-driven recommendations based on voting from over 40 million monthly visits to Ranker. Try the free app
list ordered by
1
Neil Patrick Harris is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Emmy Hosts Ever
Age 45 from Albuquerque, USA, New Mexico
2009, 2013
2
Ellen DeGeneres is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Emmy Hosts Ever
Age 61 from Metairie, Louisiana, United States of America
1994, 2001, 2005, 2014
3
Johnny Carson is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Emmy Hosts Ever
Dec. at 80 (1925-2005) from Corning, Quincy Township, Iowa, United States of America
1962, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1979, 1980, 19
4
Conan O'Brien is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Emmy Hosts Ever
Age 55 from Brookline, Massachusetts, United States of America
2002, 2003, 2006
5
Dick Van Dyke is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Emmy Hosts Ever
Age 90 from West Plains, USA, Missouri
1968
6
Lucille Ball is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Emmy Hosts Ever
Dec. at 78 (1911-1989) from Jamestown, New York, United States of America
1952
7
Michael J. Fox is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Emmy Hosts Ever
Age 57 from Edmonton, Canada
1996
8
Jimmy Fallon is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Emmy Hosts Ever
Age 44 from New York City, New York, United States of America

2010, 2017

9
Jimmy Kimmel is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Emmy Hosts Ever
Age 51 from Mill Basin, New York City, New York, United States of America
2012
10
Eddie Murphy is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Emmy Hosts Ever
Age 57 from New York City, USA, New York
1983
11
Stephen Colbert is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Emmy Hosts Ever
Age 54 from Washington, D.C., USA

2017

12
Dick Clark is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Emmy Hosts Ever
Dec. at 83 (1929-2012) from USA, New York, Mount Vernon
1980
13
Bob Newhart is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Emmy Hosts Ever
Age 89 from Oak Park, USA, Illinois
1962
14
Jon Stewart is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Emmy Hosts Ever
Age 56 from New York City, New York, United States of America
2003
15
Alan Alda is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Emmy Hosts Ever
Age 83 from New York City, New York, USA
1978
16
Sammy Davis, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Emmy Hosts Ever
Dec. at 65 (1925-1990) from Harlem, New York City, New York, USA
1965
17
Jay Leno is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Emmy Hosts Ever
Age 68 from USA, New York, New Rochelle
1990
18
Ed Sullivan is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Emmy Hosts Ever
Dec. at 73 (1901-1974) from New York City, USA, New York, Harlem
1954
19
Seth Meyers is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Emmy Hosts Ever
Age 45 from Evanston, Illinois, United States of America
2014
20
Tom Selleck is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Emmy Hosts Ever
Age 74 from Michigan, USA, Detroit
1984
21
Angela Lansbury is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Emmy Hosts Ever
Age 93 from England, Poplar, London
1993
22
Bruce Willis is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Emmy Hosts Ever
Age 63 from Idar-Oberstein, West Germany
1987
23
Henry Winkler is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Emmy Hosts Ever
Age 73 from Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States of America
1979
24
Fred Astaire is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Emmy Hosts Ever
Age Died at 88 (1899-1987) from USA, Nebraska, Omaha
1960
25
Merv Griffin is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Emmy Hosts Ever
Dec. at 82 (1925-2007) from San Mateo, California, United States of America
1969