“Does this mean I get to accept it every year?

But you know, my first love growing up was the movies. I’d see as many as six to eight films a week with my grandmother who raised me. And then later, when I was a teenager, we got our first television set. And then I had a new love. But regardless of the medium, what fascinated me was the way the stars on the screen could make people laugh. Or cry. Or sometimes both. And I wished. And I hoped, that maybe, just maybe someday, I could have the chance to do the same thing.

Well, those childhood dreams came true. Sometimes on the big screen, but primarily on television, a comedy-variety show that, half a century later, still connects with people in a way that makes me very proud. Sometimes I catch myself daydreaming about being young again and doing it all over, and then I bring myself up short when I realize how incredibly fortunate I was to be there at the right time. Because what we did then couldn’t be done today. The cost alone would be prohibitive – 28-piece live orchestra (no synthesizers), 12 dancers, average of 65 costumes a week. And there was the brilliance of our regular rep players. Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, Lyle Waggoner, Tim Conway, plus two guest stars every week. So I’m so grateful for the chemistry that we had with each other. And there was great chemistry behind the camera, too. Our crew, our producer, our director, our choreographer, our writers. The cue card guys. We all became one happy family for 11 joy-filled years. And nothing like our show, and I might add, of the variety shows of the time, could see the light of day today. Because the networks, they just wouldn’t spend the money. And because there’s so many cable competitors, they’re not going to take a chance. Sad to say today’s audiences might never know what they’re missing, so here’s to reruns and YouTube.

What has remained the same for any person who’s lucky enough to be on television is the belief that we’ve been given an opportunity to do something special. We’ve been granted a gift, a canvas to paint with our talents, one that make people laugh, or cry, or maybe do both.

So this award, oh my gosh, so generously named after me, is dedicated to all those who made my dreams come true and to all those out there who share the love I have for television, and who yearn to be part of this unique medium that has been so good to me. I’m just happy that our show happened when it did, and that I can look back and say once more, I am so glad that we had this time together. Thank you.