31st Primetime Emmy Awards
  • September 9, 1979
  • September 8, 1979
    (Creative Arts Awards)
LocationPasadena Civic Auditorium, Pasadena, California
Presented byAcademy of Television Arts and Sciences
Hosted byHenry Winkler
Cheryl Ladd
Most awardsAll in the Family
Friendly Fire
The Jericho Mile
Lou Grant
Roots: The Next Generations
Taxi (2)
Most nominationsLou Grant (12)
Outstanding Comedy SeriesTaxi
Outstanding Drama SeriesLou Grant
Outstanding Limited SeriesRoots: The Next Generations
Outstanding Comedy-Variety or Music ProgramSteve & Eydie Celebrate Irving Berlin
Television/radio coverage
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The 31st Primetime Emmy Awards were held on Sunday, September 9, 1979. The ceremony was broadcast on ABC. It was hosted by Henry Winkler and Cheryl Ladd. This ceremony is remembered for problems with the Pasadena Civic Auditorium's air-conditioning.

The top shows of the night were Taxi, which pulled an upset in the Outstanding Comedy Series field when it beat All in the Family's final season, and Lou Grant, which received 12 major nominations and won two awards including Outstanding Drama Series.

For the first time, most of the miniseries and Television movie categories were merged into one, this would become the standard for later ceremonies, culminating with the TV Movie and Miniseries program categories combining in 2011. For this year only, the comedy and variety categories were combined in acting, directing, and writing. This combination would not stick, and the traditional categories returned the next year.

Winners and nominees





Lead performances


Supporting performances


  • Barney Miller (ABC): "The Harris Incident" – Noam Pitlik
    • All in the Family (CBS): "California, Here We Are, Part II" – Paul Bogart
    • M*A*S*H (CBS): "Dear Sis" – Alan Alda
    • M*A*S*H (CBS): "Point of View" – Charles S. Dubin
    • Soap (ABC): "Episode #27" – Jay Sandrich


  • Lou Grant (CBS): "Dying" – Michele Gallery
    • Lou Grant (CBS): "Marathon" – Gene Reynolds
    • Lou Grant (CBS): "Vet" – Leon Tokatyan
    • The Paper Chase (CBS): "The Late Mr. Hart" – James Bridges
  • The Jericho Mile (ABC) – Story by : Patrick J. Nolan
    Screenplay by : Patrick J. Nolan and Michael Mann
    • Backstairs at the White House (NBC): "Book One" – Paul Dubov and Gwen Bagni
    • Friendly Fire (ABC) – Fay Kanin
    • Roots: The Next Generations (ABC): "Part I" – Ernest Kinoy
    • Summer of My German Soldier (NBC) – Jane-Howard Hammerstein

Most major nominations

Networks with multiple major nominations[note 1]
Network Number of
CBS 46
ABC 30
NBC 23
Programs with multiple major nominations
Program Category Network Number of
Lou Grant Drama CBS 12
M*A*S*H Comedy 9
Backstairs at the White House Limited CBS 8
All in the Family Comedy 6
The Rockford Files Drama NBC
Roots: The Next Generations Limited ABC
Friendly Fire Special 5
Taxi Comedy
Barney Miller 4
The Jericho Mile Special 3
Soap Comedy
Summer of My German Soldier Special NBC
Alice Comedy CBS 2
Family Drama ABC
First, You Cry Special CBS
Mork & Mindy Comedy ABC
The Paper Chase Drama NBC
Saturday Night Live Variety
Silent Victory: The Kitty O'Neil Story Special CBS

Most major awards

Networks with multiple major awards[note 1]
Network Number of
ABC 11
Programs with multiple major awards
Program Category Network Number of
All in the Family Comedy CBS 2
Friendly Fire Special ABC
The Jericho Mile
Lou Grant Drama CBS
Roots: The Next Generations Miniseries ABC
Taxi Comedy
  1. ^ a b "Major" constitutes the categories listed above: Program, Acting, Directing, and Writing. Does not include the technical categories.