FLASHBACK: 'The Young and the Restless' Mistakenly Wins Writing Award at 1986 Daytime Emmys

William J. Bell
In one of the epic fails in recent television history, Sunday night Miss Universe's host Steve Harvey named the wrong contestant as the winner—incorrectly announcing that Miss Columbia, Ariadna Gutierrez-Arévalo, was Miss Universe 2015. She was crowned and taking her accolades for over two minutes before Harvey returned to the stage to announce that he had made a grievous error. Miss Columbia was, in fact, the first runner-up. The winner was Miss Philippines, Pia Alonzo Wurzbach. This wasn't the first such blunder during a live TV event, and most certainly will not be the last. Perhaps the most memorable live event blunder from the world of daytime soap operas happened in 1986 at the Daytime Emmy Awards.

Another World stars Stephen Schnetzer (who played Cass Winthrop) and Julie Osburn (Kathleen McKinnon) presented a Daytime Emmy to the writing team of The Young and the Restless, headed by William J. Bell.  Bell accepted the award for "Outstanding Drama Series Writing Team" during the ceremony in New York City on July 17, his first writing win for Y&R (he had previously won as head writer of Days of our Lives).

"We've put in long hours, and many years, waiting for this moment. It is arrived," Bell said in his acceptance speech.

Two days later Bell received a telephone call from the Academy in charge of the Daytime Emmys advising him that there had been a "clerical error," and The Young and the Restless had NOT won the award. The true winner was the writing team for Guiding Light, headed by Pamela K. Long and Jeff Ryder. Reportedly the accounting firm who did the tabulation had erroneously given a card to the presenter naming The Young and the Restless as the winner, while releasing a press release correctly stating that Guiding Light won. They needed Bell to return the Emmy.

Bell would go on to win a number of Daytime Emmys in future years, including three for writing and the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992. Long won one additional Emmy—in 1990—for her work on Guiding Light. She recently penned NBC's highly-rated TV movie, Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors.

Watch the Daytime Emmys blunder from 1986 below.

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