The one-woman show known as Elaine Stritch brought her naked honesty, run-on monologue style and bleepable language to the Emmys on Sunday night, shaking up her listeners -- both on stage and off -- and providing comic fodder for other presenters the rest of the night.
Accepting the Emmy for outstanding individual performance in a variety or music program for "Elaine Stritch: At Liberty," the gravel-voiced actress opened with, "Oh, my God. Listen. No, that just takes time" and went uphill from there.
"I cannot tell you what would have happened to me if I couldn't have gotten out what's inside of me tonight. I try not to drink, but, Jesus," said Stritch, who humorously discusses how alcoholism and diabetes affected her life in the stage show that was taped for HBO. "Look at the company I'm in," she went on. "I'm so glad none of them won."
In a long-winded recitation of names, she came to co-executive producer Scott Sanders. "I don't like him very much," she said. "But he got the money for me to do the show, so tonight, I love him."
The 79-year-old actress triggered ABC's censors, who were testing their new five-second delay after the trouble caused by Janet Jackson's unexpected "wardrobe malfunction" this year. After tempting producers to yank her off with a hook ("I'm just going to start saying names and they can take me off the stage when they want to...."), Stritch reiterated her stand. "Now I'm not moving from here until somebody comes and gets me. You'll never know. You'll just effing never know."
Stritch finally got it together backstage, where she told reporters it was hard to explain how it felt to win. "It's the kind of adrenaline that's a little bit scary," she said. Stritch summed up her joy in one word. "When you're 79 and you win a big award like this, with that competition, at my age ... Hallelujah."