This is one of our nine most surprising, historic, and memorable moments from past Emmys. Check out the full list.
In casting Isabel Sanford for the role of Louise in the hit series The Jeffersons, Norman Lear says, “She wasn’t on the first page of the audition before I knew she was perfect for the role.” Seven times nominated, she eventually won an Emmy for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in 1981. She remains the only black actress to have won the award. But when she choked on the podium at the historic moment, it apparently wasn’t the applause that moved her, says her longtime manager and publicist Brad Lemack. Not believing her name would be called, “Isabel picked up a piece of cheese from the crafting table, thinking it might help hide her disappointment at yet another loss,” he says. “When she was announced as the winner, she had two thoughts: ‘Now people can really see my dress’ and ‘I really have to swallow this cheese.’ Finally, the audience heard Isabel utter her first words… “Finally.” Most people assumed she meant, “Finally I won!” But the truth is, her ‘Finally’ really was ‘Finally I finally swallowed that piece of cheese’.”
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/awards/story/2022-07-06/1981-history-making-emmy-isabel-sanford A bite to eat with her history-making Emmy