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16 Of The Most Tearjerking Awards Show Speeches

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    Why do we love watching awards shows? To see dazzling fashion? To watch famous people interact with each other and their armies of publicists? To root for our favorites? These are all good reasons. Although, often we get something we didn't necessarily tune in for: a truly great speech that moves us to tears.

    These shows are supposed to be places where industries congratulate the best in the business. Acceptance speeches are the one time a star is expected to selfishly bask in glory, and then give a few “thank yous” to the little people who helped them get to that stage. But not all winners feel that way. There are million reasons why a start might get all choked up on stage. And there's even the rarer, great occasion when getting a little trophy for making something that entertains people for a couple of hours reminds stars that there are much bigger things going on in the world. While some of those speeches can come off as preachy, when they're done right, they reach out and grab us when we least expected it.

    Well, now we've learned our lesson. We'll be tuning into the Emmys with a tissue box close by. You might want to grab one a little early and warm up with a good ugly cry while watching these.


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    Yoko Ono, Grammys (1982)

    When Yoko Ono and her six-year-old son Sean took the stage to accept Album of the Year for Double Fantasy, it was just a little over a year after John Lennon was shot and killed in front of their apartment building. So it really means something when the widow says something as positive as this: "Both John and I were always very proud and happy that we were part of the human race, who made good music for the Earth and for the universe."

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    Joan Rivers, Daytime Emmys (1990)

    We promise, this isn't just a list full of widow speeches, but it really was great to see Rivers take a break from comedy for a minute when accepting the award for Outstanding Talk Show Host and give a tearful nod to her late husband, who committed suicide three years earlier. "It's so sad that he's not here, because as my husband Edgar Rosenberg always said, ‘You can turn things around.' Except one terrible moment in a hotel room in Philadelphia, when he forgot that. This is really for him, because he was with me from the beginning and I'm so sorry he's not here now.”

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    Tom Hanks, Oscars (1994)

    This speech is often pointed out as a bit of trivia: When accepting his Best Actor award for playing a gay man with AIDS in Philadelphia, he thanked his high school drama teacher and a classmate, "two of the finest gay Americans," without getting their permission to mention their sexual orientation onstage — and this inspired the silly Kevin Kline movie In & Out. But we've included his words here because of what came next: "I know that my work in this case is magnified by the fact that the streets of heaven are too crowded with angels."

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    Anna Paquin, Oscars (1994)

    Take a minute and imagine yourself at 11. Now imagine facing a room full of the most famous grown-ups in the world, all dressed up and waiting for you to say something. What we have now are tears of terror, and then of pride in the little star of The Piano for finally getting out an extremely professional round of thank yous. Well done, Sookie.

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    Voletta Wallace, Notorious B.I.G.'s Mom, VMAS (1997)

    It had only been about six months since Biggie was shot down in Los Angeles when his "Hypnotize" snagged the Best Rap Video Moonman. No matter where you stand on that East Coast-West Coast rivalry, you have to respect his mom's "Big up to Brooklyn!" declaration, with his friends and daughter T'yanna by her side. Love that she took her handbag up with her and kept the sunglasses on the whole time.