Inspired by the article from On Call: The Official Newsletter of the St. Elsewhere Appreciation Club that told the stories behind St. Elsewhere's performance at the Emmy Awards, I am preparing video clips showcasing these great moments from the show's history.
The fourth episode of St. Elsewhere's rookie season turned out to be a special one--it featured two of the three acting performances that would be honored at the 1983 Emmy Awards (the third will be featured in the next post). Doris Roberts and James Coco, both veterans of stage and screen and old friends, played homeless couple Cora and Arnie. Their relationship comes to a crossroads when Cora learns that her feet need to be amputated, and she won't be able to look after the mentally ill/challenged Arnie anymore.
Doris Roberts & James Coco in "Cora and Arnie", Part 1:
Doris Roberts & James Coco in "Cora and Arnie", Part 2:
As was mentioned in the recent On Call post, there was an uproar from the St. Elsewhere camp come Emmy time because regular cast members were cut out of nominations and the win by guest actors who were featured for just a single episode. It wasn't until 1986 that the Outstanding Guest Actor categories were reinstated, but by that time, guest stars Roberts and Coco took home awards, guest Piper Laurie earned a nomination (in 1984), and Hill Street Blues guest stars Barbara Babcock (for Lead Actress, 1981) and Alfre Woodard (Supporting Actress, 1984) would win Emmys for St. Elsewhere's MTM competition.
If you're a fan, I highly recommend purchasing the official St. Elsewhere season one DVD release, which includes a commentary track of "Cora and Arnie" featuring Mark Tinker and Doris Roberts. The featurette and stories about Tim Robbins (in his first professional acting job) are worth the purchase price (to a fan like me, anyway).
I've never seen a clip of the awards ceremony, but according to Roberts, she won hers first, and gave her purse to her friend and fellow nominee to hold while she accepted it. When Coco was announced as the winner in his category shortly thereafter, he had no choice but to carry the purse with him and explain to the audience it wasn't his.