Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

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Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Awarded for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama of Series
Country United States
Presented by Academy of Television Arts & Sciences
First awarded 1954
Currently held by Elisabeth Moss,
The Handmaid's Tale (2017)
Website emmys.com

The Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series is an award presented annually by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS). It is given in honor of an actress who has delivered an outstanding performance in a leading role on a television drama series for the primetime network season.

The award was first presented at the 6th Primetime Emmy Awards on February 11, 1954, the acting awards presented during the inaugaral years were not genre specific, with actresses in either drama or comedy series receiving nominations and awards. While Eve Arden was the first winner in the female acting category, Loretta Young was the first actress to win for a lead performance in a drama series. By 1966, the acting awards were split into drama and comedy categories, undergoing several name changes until settling with the current title.

Since its inception, the award has been given to 36 actresses, with 31 winning for performances in a drama series, at four awards, Tyne Daly and Michael Learned hold the record for most wins in the category. Angela Lansbury is the most nominated actress in the category with twelve nominations. Elisabeth Moss is the current recipient of the award for her work on The Handmaid's Tale.

Winners and nominations[edit]

Listed below are the winners of the award for each year, as well as the other nominees.

Key Meaning
Indicates the winning actress.
# Indicates a performance in a miniseries or television film, prior to the category's creation.
§ Indicates a performance as a guest performer, prior to the category's creation.

1950s[edit]

Year Actress Program Role Network Ref.
1953
(6th)
[note 1]
Eve Arden Our Miss Brooks Connie Brooks CBS [1]
Lucille Ball I Love Lucy Lucy Ricardo CBS
Imogene Coca Your Show of Shows Various Characters NBC
Dinah Shore The Dinah Shore Show Herself
Loretta Young The Loretta Young Show Various Characters
1954
(7th)
[note 1]
Loretta Young The Loretta Young Show Various characters CBS [2]
Gracie Allen The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show Gracie Allen CBS
Eve Arden Our Miss Brooks Connie Brooks
Lucille Ball I Love Lucy Lucy Ricardo
Ann Sothern Private Secretary Susie McNamara
1955
(8th)
[note 1]
Lucille Ball I Love Lucy Lucy Ricardo CBS [3]
Gracie Allen The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show Gracie Allen CBS
Eve Arden Our Miss Brooks Connie Brooks
Jean Hagen Make Room for Daddy Margaret Williams ABC
Ann Sothern Private Secretary Susie McNamara CBS
1956
(9th)
Loretta Young The Loretta Young Show Various characters NBC [4]
Jan Clayton Lassie Ellen Miller CBS
Ida Lupino Four Star Playhouse Various Characters
Peggy Wood Mama Mama
Jane Wyman Fireside Theatre Various Characters NBC
1957
(10th)
[note 1]
Jane Wyatt Father Knows Best Margaret Anderson NBC [5]
Eve Arden The Eve Arden Show Liza Hammond CBS
Spring Byington December Bride Lily Ruskin
Jan Clayton Lassie Ellen Miller
Ida Lupino Mr. Adams and Eve Eve Drake
195859
(11th)
Loretta Young The Loretta Young Show Various characters NBC [6]
Jan Clayton Lassie Ellen Miller CBS
Phyllis Kirk The Thin Man Nora Charles NBC
Jane Wyman Fireside Theatre Various Characters

1960s[edit]

Year Actress Program Role Network Ref.
195960
(12th)
[note 1]
Jane Wyatt Father Knows Best Margaret Anderson CBS [7]
Donna Reed The Donna Reed Show Donna Stone ABC
Loretta Young The Loretta Young Show Various Characters NBC
196061
(13th)
[note 1]
Barbara Stanwyck The Barbara Stanwyck Show Various characters NBC [8]
Donna Reed The Donna Reed Show Donna Stone ABC
Loretta Young The Loretta Young Show Various Characters NBC
196162
(14th)
[note 1]
Shirley Booth Hazel Hazel Burke NBC [9]
Gertrude Berg The Gertrude Berg Show Sarah Green CBS
Donna Reed The Donna Reed Show Donna Stone ABC
Mary Stuart Search for Tomorrow Joanne Gardner CBS
Cara Williams Pete and Gladys Gladys Porter
196263
(15th)
[note 1]
Shirley Booth Hazel Hazel Burke NBC [10]
Lucille Ball The Lucy Show Lucy Carmichael CBS
Shirl Conway The Nurses Liz Thorpe
Mary Tyler Moore The Dick Van Dyke Show Laura Petrie
Irene Ryan The Beverly Hillbillies Granny
196364
(16th)
[note 1]
Mary Tyler Moore The Dick Van Dyke Show Laura Petrie CBS [11]
Shirley Booth Hazel Hazel Burke NBC
Patty Duke The Patty Duke Show Cathy Lane ABC
Irene Ryan The Beverly Hillbillies Granny CBS
Inger Stevens The Farmer's Daughter Katy Holstrum ABC
196465
(17th)
No award
196566
(18th)
Barbara Stanwyck The Big Valley Victoria Barkley ABC [12]
Anne Francis Honey West Honey West ABC
Barbara Parkins Peyton Place Betty Anderson Cord
196667
(19th)
Barbara Bain Mission: Impossible Cinnamon Carter CBS [13]
Diana Rigg The Avengers Emma Peel ABC
Barbara Stanwyck The Big Valley Victoria Barkley
196768
(20th)
Barbara Bain Mission: Impossible Cinnamon Carter CBS [14]
Diana Rigg The Avengers Emma Peel ABC
Barbara Stanwyck The Big Valley Victoria Barkley
196869
(21st)
Barbara Bain Mission: Impossible Cinnamon Carter CBS [15]
Joan Blondell Here Come the Brides Lottie Hatfield ABC
Peggy Lipton The Mod Squad Julie Barnes

1970s[edit]

Year Actress Program Role Network Ref.
196970
(22nd)
Susan Hampshire # The Forsyte Saga Fleur Mont NET [16]
Joan Blondell Here Come the Brides Lottie Hatfield ABC
Peggy Lipton The Mod Squad Julie Barnes
197071
(23rd)
Susan Hampshire # The First Churchills Sarah Churchill PBS [17]
Linda Cristal The High Chaparral Victoria Montoya NBC
Peggy Lipton The Mod Squad Julie Barnes ABC
197172
(24th)
Glenda Jackson # Elizabeth R Queen Elizabeth I of England PBS [18]
Peggy Lipton The Mod Squad Julie Barnes ABC
Susan Saint James McMillan & Wife Sally McMillian NBC
197273
(25th)
Michael Learned The Waltons Olivia Walton CBS [19]
Lynda Day George Mission: Impossible Lisa Casey CBS
Susan Saint James McMillan & Wife Sally McMillian NBC
197374
(26th)
Michael Learned The Waltons Olivia Walton CBS [20]
Jean Marsh Upstairs, Downstairs Rose Buck PBS
Jeanette Nolan Dirty Sally Sally Fergus CBS
197475
(27th)
Jean Marsh Upstairs, Downstairs Rose Buck PBS [21]
Angie Dickinson Police Woman Sgt. Leann "Pepper" Anderson NBC
Michael Learned The Waltons Olivia Walton CBS
197576
(28th)
Michael Learned The Waltons Olivia Walton CBS [22]
Angie Dickinson Police Woman Sgt. Leann "Pepper" Anderson NBC
Anne Meara Kate McShane Kate McShane CBS
Brenda Vaccaro Sara Sara Yarnell
197677
(29th)
Lindsay Wagner The Bionic Woman Jaime Sommers ABC [23]
Angie Dickinson Police Woman Sgt. Leann "Pepper" Anderson NBC
Kate Jackson Charlie's Angels Sabrina Duncan ABC
Michael Learned The Waltons Olivia Walton CBS
Sada Thompson Family Kate Lawrence ABC
197778
(30th)
Sada Thompson Family Kate Lawrence ABC [24]
Melissa Sue Anderson Little House on the Prairie Mary Ingalls NBC
Fionnula Flanagan How the West Was Won Aunt Molly Culhane ABC
Kate Jackson Charlie's Angels Sabrina Duncan
Michael Learned The Waltons Olivia Walton CBS
Susan Sullivan Having Babies Dr. Julie Farr ABC
197879
(31st)
Mariette Hartley § The Incredible Hulk Dr. Caroline Fields CBS [25]
Barbara Bel Geddes Dallas Miss Ellie Ewing CBS
Rita Moreno § The Rockford Files Rita Capkovick NBC
Sada Thompson Family Kate Lawrence ABC

1980s[edit]

Year Actress Program Role Network Ref.
197980
(32nd)
Barbara Bel Geddes Dallas Miss Ellie Ewing CBS [26]
Lauren Bacall § The Rockford Files Kendall Warren NBC
Mariette Hartley § Althea Morgan
Kristy McNichol Family Buddy Lawrence ABC
Sada Thompson Kate Lawrence
198081
(33rd)
Barbara Babcock § Hill Street Blues Grace Gardner NBC [27]
Barbara Bel Geddes Dallas Miss Ellie Ewing CBS
Linda Gray Sue Ellen Ewing
Veronica Hamel Hill Street Blues Joyce Davenport NBC
Michael Learned Nurse Mary Benjamin CBS
Stefanie Powers Hart to Hart Jennifer Hart ABC
198182
(34th)
Michael Learned Nurse Mary Benjamin CBS [28]
Debbie Allen Fame Lydia Grant NBC
Veronica Hamel Hill Street Blues Joyce Davenport
Michele Lee Knots Landing Karen Fairgate CBS
Stefanie Powers Hart to Hart Jennifer Hart ABC
198283
(35th)
Tyne Daly Cagney & Lacey Mary Beth Lacey CBS [29]
Debbie Allen Fame Lydia Grant NBC
Linda Evans Dynasty Krystle Carrington ABC
Sharon Gless Cagney & Lacey Chris Cagney CBS
Veronica Hamel Hill Street Blues Joyce Davenport NBC
198384
(36th)
Tyne Daly Cagney & Lacey Mary Beth Lacey CBS [30]
Debbie Allen Fame Lydia Grant Syndicated
Joan Collins Dynasty Alexis Colby ABC
Sharon Gless Cagney & Lacey Chris Cagney CBS
Veronica Hamel Hill Street Blues Joyce Davenport NBC
198485
(37th)
Tyne Daly Cagney & Lacey Mary Beth Lacey CBS [31]
Debbie Allen Fame Lydia Grant Syndicated
Sharon Gless Cagney & Lacey Chris Cagney CBS
Veronica Hamel Hill Street Blues Joyce Davenport NBC
Angela Lansbury Murder, She Wrote Jessica Fletcher CBS
198586
(38th)
Sharon Gless Cagney & Lacey Chris Cagney CBS [32]
Tyne Daly Cagney & Lacey Mary Beth Lacey CBS
Angela Lansbury Murder, She Wrote Jessica Fletcher
Cybill Shepherd Moonlighting Maddie Hayes ABC
Alfre Woodard St. Elsewhere Roxanne Turner NBC
198687
(39th)
Sharon Gless Cagney & Lacey Chris Cagney CBS [33]
Tyne Daly Cagney & Lacey Mary Beth Lacey CBS
Susan Dey L.A. Law Grace Van Owen NBC
Jill Eikenberry Ann Kelsey
Angela Lansbury Murder, She Wrote Jessica Fletcher CBS
198788
(40th)
Tyne Daly Cagney & Lacey Mary Beth Lacey CBS [34]
Susan Dey L.A. Law Grace Van Owen NBC
Jill Eikenberry Ann Kelsey
Sharon Gless Cagney & Lacey Chris Cagney CBS
Angela Lansbury Murder, She Wrote Jessica Fletcher
198889
(41st)
Dana Delany China Beach Colleen McMurphy ABC [35]
Susan Dey L.A. Law Grace Van Owen NBC
Jill Eikenberry Ann Kelsey
Linda Hamilton Beauty and the Beast Catherine Chandler CBS
Angela Lansbury Murder, She Wrote Jessica Fletcher

1990s[edit]

Year Actor Program Role Network Ref.
198990
(42nd)
Patricia Wettig thirtysomething Nancy Krieger-Weston ABC [36]
Dana Delany China Beach Colleen McMurphy ABC
Jill Eikenberry L.A. Law Ann Kelsey NBC
Angela Lansbury Murder, She Wrote Jessica Fletcher CBS
Piper Laurie Twin Peaks Catherine Martell ABC
199091
(43rd)
Patricia Wettig thirtysomething Nancy Krieger-Weston ABC [37]
Dana Delany China Beach Colleen McMurphy ABC
Sharon Gless The Trials of Rosie O'Neill Rosie O'Neill CBS
Angela Lansbury Murder, She Wrote Jessica Fletcher
199192
(44th)
Dana Delany China Beach Colleen McMurphy ABC [38]
Sharon Gless The Trials of Rosie O'Neill Rosie O'Neill CBS
Shirley Knight § Law & Order Melanie Currants NBC
Angela Lansbury Murder, She Wrote Jessica Fletcher CBS
Kate Nelligan § Road to Avonlea Sydney Carver Disney
Regina Taylor I'll Fly Away Lilly Harper NBC
199293
(45th)
Kathy Baker Picket Fences Dr. Jill Brock CBS [39]
Swoosie Kurtz Sisters Alex Reed NBC
Angela Lansbury Murder, She Wrote Jessica Fletcher CBS
Regina Taylor I'll Fly Away Lilly Harper NBC
Janine Turner Northern Exposure Maggie "Mary Margaret" O'Connell CBS
199394
(46th)
Sela Ward Sisters Teddy Reed NBC [40]
Kathy Baker Picket Fences Dr. Jill Brock CBS
Swoosie Kurtz Sisters Alex Reed NBC
Angela Lansbury Murder, She Wrote Jessica Fletcher CBS
Jane Seymour Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman Michaela "Dr. Mike" Quinn
199495
(47th)
Kathy Baker Picket Fences Dr. Jill Brock CBS [41]
Claire Danes My So-Called Life Angela Chase ABC
Angela Lansbury Murder, She Wrote Jessica Fletcher CBS
Sherry Stringfield ER Dr. Susan Lewis NBC
Cicely Tyson Sweet Justice Carrie Grace Battle
199596
(48th)
Kathy Baker Picket Fences Dr. Jill Brock CBS [42]
Gillian Anderson The X-Files Dr. Dana Scully Fox
Christine Lahti Chicago Hope Dr. Kathryn "Kate" Austin CBS
Angela Lansbury Murder, She Wrote Jessica Fletcher
Sherry Stringfield ER Dr. Susan Lewis NBC
199697
(49th)
Gillian Anderson The X-Files Dr. Dana Scully Fox [43]
Roma Downey Touched by an Angel Monica CBS
Christine Lahti Chicago Hope Dr. Kathryn "Kate" Austin
Julianna Margulies ER Carol Hathaway NBC
Sherry Stringfield Dr. Susan Lewis
199798
(50th)
Christine Lahti Chicago Hope Dr. Kathryn "Kate" Austin CBS [44]
Gillian Anderson The X-Files Dr. Dana Scully Fox
Roma Downey Touched by an Angel Monica CBS
Julianna Margulies ER Carol Hathaway NBC
Jane Seymour Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman Michaela "Dr. Mike" Quinn CBS
199899
(51st)
Edie Falco The Sopranos Carmela Soprano HBO [45]
Gillian Anderson The X-Files Dr. Dana Scully Fox
Lorraine Bracco The Sopranos Dr. Jennifer Melfi HBO
Christine Lahti Chicago Hope Dr. Kathryn "Kate" Austin CBS
Julianna Margulies ER Carol Hathaway NBC

2000s[edit]

Year Actor Program Role Network Ref.
19992000
(52nd)
Sela Ward Once and Again Lily Manning ABC [46]
Lorraine Bracco The Sopranos Dr. Jennifer Melfi HBO
Amy Brenneman Judging Amy Amy Gray CBS
Edie Falco The Sopranos Carmela Soprano HBO
Julianna Margulies ER Carol Hathaway NBC
200001
(53rd)
Edie Falco The Sopranos Carmela Soprano HBO [47]
Lorraine Bracco The Sopranos Dr. Jennifer Melfi HBO
Amy Brenneman Judging Amy Amy Gray CBS
Marg Helgenberger CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Catherine Willows
Sela Ward Once and Again Lily Manning ABC
200102
(54th)
Allison Janney The West Wing C. J. Cregg NBC [48]
Amy Brenneman Judging Amy Amy Gray CBS
Frances Conroy Six Feet Under Ruth Fisher HBO
Jennifer Garner Alias Sydney Bristow ABC
Rachel Griffiths Six Feet Under Brenda Chenowith HBO
200203
(55th)
Edie Falco The Sopranos Carmela Soprano HBO [49]
Frances Conroy Six Feet Under Ruth Fisher HBO
Jennifer Garner Alias Sydney Bristow ABC
Marg Helgenberger CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Catherine Willows CBS
Allison Janney The West Wing C. J. Cregg NBC
200304
(56th)
Allison Janney The West Wing C. J. Cregg NBC [50]
Edie Falco The Sopranos Carmela Soprano HBO
Jennifer Garner Alias Sydney Bristow ABC
Mariska Hargitay Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Olivia Benson NBC
Amber Tamblyn Joan of Arcadia Joan Girardi CBS
200405
(57th)
Patricia Arquette Medium Allison DuBois NBC [51]
Glenn Close The Shield Monica Rawling FX
Frances Conroy Six Feet Under Ruth Fisher HBO
Jennifer Garner Alias Sydney Bristow ABC
Mariska Hargitay Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Olivia Benson NBC
200506
(58th)
Mariska Hargitay Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Olivia Benson NBC [52]
Frances Conroy Six Feet Under Ruth Fisher HBO
Geena Davis Commander in Chief Mackenzie Allen ABC
Allison Janney The West Wing C. J. Cregg NBC
Kyra Sedgwick The Closer Brenda Leigh Johnson TNT
200607
(59th)
Sally Field Brothers & Sisters Nora Walker ABC [53]
Patricia Arquette Medium Allison DuBois NBC
Minnie Driver The Riches Dahlia Malloy FX
Edie Falco The Sopranos Carmela Soprano HBO
Mariska Hargitay Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Olivia Benson NBC
Kyra Sedgwick The Closer Brenda Leigh Johnson TNT
200708
(60th)
Glenn Close Damages Patty Hewes FX [54]
Sally Field Brothers & Sisters Nora Walker ABC
Mariska Hargitay Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Olivia Benson NBC
Holly Hunter Saving Grace Grace Hanadarko TNT
Kyra Sedgwick The Closer Brenda Leigh Johnson
200809
(61st)
Glenn Close Damages Patty Hewes FX [55]
Sally Field Brothers & Sisters Nora Walker ABC
Mariska Hargitay Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Olivia Benson NBC
Holly Hunter Saving Grace Grace Hanadarko TNT
Elisabeth Moss Mad Men Peggy Olson AMC
Kyra Sedgwick The Closer Brenda Leigh Johnson TNT

2010s[edit]

Year Actor Program Role Network Ref.
200910
(62nd)
Kyra Sedgwick The Closer Brenda Leigh Johnson TNT [56]
Connie Britton Friday Night Lights Tami Taylor NBC/Audience
Glenn Close Damages Patty Hewes FX
Mariska Hargitay Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Olivia Benson NBC
January Jones Mad Men Betty Draper AMC
Julianna Margulies The Good Wife Alicia Florrick CBS
201011
(63rd)
Julianna Margulies The Good Wife Alicia Florrick CBS [57]
Kathy Bates Harry's Law Harriet "Harry" Korn NBC
Connie Britton Friday Night Lights Tami Taylor NBC/Audience
Mireille Enos The Killing Sarah Linden AMC
Mariska Hargitay Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Olivia Benson NBC
Elisabeth Moss Mad Men Peggy Olson AMC
201112
(64th)
Claire Danes Homeland Carrie Mathison Showtime [58]
Kathy Bates Harry's Law Harriet "Harry" Korn NBC
Glenn Close Damages Patty Hewes Audience
Michelle Dockery Downton Abbey Lady Mary Crawley PBS
Julianna Margulies The Good Wife Alicia Florrick CBS
Elisabeth Moss Mad Men Peggy Olson AMC
201213
(65th)
Claire Danes Homeland Carrie Mathison Showtime [59]
Connie Britton Nashville Rayna Jaymes ABC
Michelle Dockery Downton Abbey Lady Mary Crawley PBS
Vera Farmiga Bates Motel Norma Louise Bates A&E
Elisabeth Moss Mad Men Peggy Olson AMC
Kerry Washington Scandal Olivia Pope ABC
Robin Wright House of Cards Claire Underwood Netflix
201314
(66th)
Julianna Margulies The Good Wife Alicia Florrick CBS [60]
Lizzy Caplan Masters of Sex Virginia Johnson Showtime
Claire Danes Homeland Carrie Mathison
Michelle Dockery Downton Abbey Lady Mary Crawley PBS
Kerry Washington Scandal Olivia Pope ABC
Robin Wright House of Cards Claire Underwood Netflix
201415
(67th)
Viola Davis How to Get Away with Murder Annalise Keating ABC [61]
Claire Danes Homeland Carrie Mathison Showtime
Taraji P. Henson Empire Cookie Lyon Fox
Tatiana Maslany Orphan Black Various Characters BBC America
Elisabeth Moss Mad Men Peggy Olson AMC
Robin Wright House of Cards Claire Underwood Netflix
201516
(68th)
Tatiana Maslany Orphan Black Various Characters BBC America [62]
Claire Danes Homeland Carrie Mathison Showtime
Viola Davis How to Get Away with Murder Annalise Keating ABC
Taraji P. Henson Empire Cookie Lyon Fox
Keri Russell The Americans Elizabeth Jennings FX
Robin Wright House of Cards Claire Underwood Netflix
201617
(69th)
Elisabeth Moss The Handmaid's Tale Offred / June Osborne Hulu [63]
Viola Davis How to Get Away with Murder Annalise Keating ABC
Claire Foy The Crown Queen Elizabeth II Netflix
Keri Russell The Americans Elizabeth Jennings FX
Evan Rachel Wood Westworld Dolores Abernathy HBO
Robin Wright House of Cards Claire Underwood Netflix

Superlatives[edit]

Multiple awards[edit]

Multiple nominations[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Early Emmy ceremonies did not have genre specific acting categories

References[edit]

  1. ^ "6th Primetime Emmys Nominees and Winners – Best Female Star of Regular Series". Emmys.com. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS). Retrieved 8 July 2017. 
  2. ^ "7th Primetime Emmys Nominees and Winners – Best Actress Starring in a Regular Series". Emmys.com. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS). Retrieved 8 July 2017. 
  3. ^ "8th Primetime Emmys Nominees and Winners – Best Actress – Continuing Performance". Emmys.com. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS). Retrieved 8 July 2017. 
  4. ^ "9th Primetime Emmys Nominees and Winners – Best Continuing Performance by an Actress". Emmys.com. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS). Retrieved 8 July 2017. 
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  25. ^ "31st Primetime Emmys Nominees and Winners – Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series". Emmys.com. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 9 July 2017. 
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