TV legends Alex Trebek and Larry King, who both died in recent months, received tributes during the Daytime Emmys ceremony Friday, but that wasn't the only honor bestowed upon them. Both won Emmys, too.
"Jeopardy!" host Trebek, who died in November after a brave battle against Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, took the prize for game show host, with syndicated "Jeopardy!" winning for outstanding game show. King, who died in January after being hospitalized for COVID-19, received the outstanding informative talk show host Emmy for "Larry King Now" on Ora TV.
Trebek, King and another beloved talk host, Regis Philbin, who died in July, received special notice during the in memoriam segment of the CBS broadcast, with awards host Sheryl Underwood of "The Talk" referring to them as "three daytime giants." After that tribute, which featured famous friends speaking on behalf of each man, "The Bold and the Beautiful" star Diamond White sang "The World's a Better Place Because of You" as others in daytime TV who died in the past year were pictured on screen.
Trebek, who was born in Canada and rose to fame as a game show host in the United States, was honored by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. first lady Jill Biden, with "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts and actor Ken Jeong offering praise, too. Martha Stewart, a frequent King interview guest, paid homage to the talk show host and Kathie Lee Gifford, Philbin's longtime morning-show partner, talked about their friendship. All tributes were taped at remote locations.
The Emmy wins gave the ceremony an extra emotional resonance, as both Trebek's and King's children accepted the awards on behalf of their fathers in taped acceptance speeches
Emily Trebek, accepting with her brother, Matt, said her father loved hosting "Jeopardy!" even as he fought cancer.
"Over the past 37 years, the show became his second family. He was always excited to go to work, even during his battle with cancer," she said. "He was so fortunate that he was able to do what he loved and we know he not once took it for granted. So, on behalf of our family, we thank you so much."
"Jeopardy!" host derby:The best and worst 'Jeopardy!' guest hosts, from Savannah Guthrie to Mayim Bialik
Chance King, accepting Larry King's statuette with his brother, Cannon, said: "I can tell you all that my dad is looking down on us with a very large smile. This last season was a testament to his love for broadcasting. And, as much as he is gone, he is with us in our hearts forever. We love you so much, Dad."
Gifford, who hosted "Live with Regis and Kathie Lee" with Philbin for 15 years, imagined her friend in heaven.
"He was unique. He was an original. He was the most fun you could ever have with a human being and I got to sit next to him and play verbal ping-pong with him," she said. "I know we all miss him. I do. I'll never be the same. I know he's slaying them in heaven right now. He's up there with all the greats, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. They're having a screamfest up there. Henny Youngman is just – I'd say dying, but he's already anyway. Anyway, that's where Regis is and I couldn't be happier for him and I couldn't miss him more."
Stewart, in a speech taped in a beautifully appointed kitchen, remembered meeting King when he was doing radio in Washington, D.C., in the years before he became a major CNN talk host. She always enjoyed being interviewed by him when she was on tour in the nation's capital and in later years on TV.
"He was always fair, always interesting. The questions were always invigorating to the interviewee," she said. "Larry was always there for me. I think he was there for pretty much anybody he interviewed. But thank you, Larry, for a life of interest, of depth, of personality, of real caring."
Trebek received international honors. First, Trudeau, speaking from a government office decorated with four Canadian flags, praised the host for "his quick wit and bright sense of humor. He never missed an opportunity to stump contestants with questions about Canada." He also lauded his commitment to conservation.
"We will all miss gathering around the TV to watch Alex, but his legacy of giving and caring will surely live on," the prime minister said. "I got to talk with him a few years ago and he expressed to me how proud he was to be a Canadian. I had to tell him that all Canadians are incredibly proud that he's one of us as well."
Biden, a teacher, said she first met Trebek on a special "Jeopardy!" episode honoring educators.
"He was warm and funny and so kind. But what stood out most was that even though he never worked in a classroom, he too was an educator. Alex made us feel like learning was for everyone. He made it fun, exciting, and competitive," she said, appearing to be speaking from a White House hall. "He inspired us to be more curious about the world around us. And he brought families together every evening, laughing and guessing and racking our brains to keep up with the smartest contestants. Thank you for teaching us, inspiring us and bringing us together, Alex. We miss you."