LOS ANGELES - Jeff Daniels won the Emmy Award on Sunday for best drama series actor for his portrayal of an idealistic TV anchorman in "The Newsroom."
He noted that he'd also received an age 50-plus acting honor from one of the nation's associations for mature American citizens.
"With all due respect to the AARP, this is even better," Daniels said.
Diahann Carroll, the first African-American Emmy nominee in 1963 for "Naked City," created a heartfelt moment when she took the stage with "Scandal" best actress nominee Kerry Washington and noted the importance of diversity in the industry and Emmys.
"Tonight, she better get this award," Carroll said of Washington, who covered her eyes in embarrassment. Washington could become the first African-American nominee for best actress in a drama since Cicely Tyson in 1995 for "Sweet Justice."
Julia Louis-Dreyfus claimed her second consecutive best comedy actress Emmy Award on Sunday for her role as an ambitious political second banana in "Veep," with Jim Parsons again claiming the top comedy acting trophy for "The Big Bang Theory."
"This is so much good fortune it's almost too much to bear," said Louis-Dreyfus. "I'm very grateful to have the opportunity to make people laugh. It's a joyful way to make a living."
Parsons added to the awards he won in 2011 and 2010 for the role of a science nerd.
"My heart, oh my heart. I want you to know I'm very aware of how exceedingly fortunate I am," he said.
Merritt Wever of "Nurse Jackie" won the night's first award, for best supporting actress in a comedy series, kicking off the ceremony on a surprising note and with a remarkably brief acceptance speech.
"Thank you so much. Thank you so much. Um, I got to go, bye," Wever told the audience after besting a field that included two-time winner Julie Bowen of "Modern Family."
"Merritt Wever, best speech ever," host Neil Patrick Harris said.
Backstage, she offered an explanation: "I'm sorry I didn't thank anyone. I was going to cry."
Tony Hale of "Veep" claimed the trophy for best supporting actor in a comedy, a category that has been the property in recent years of the men of "Modern Family."
"Oh, man.... This is mindblowing, mindblowing," Hale said.
Laura Linney was named best actress in a miniseries or movie for "The Big C: Hereafter." "The Voice" won best reality-competition program and Tina Fey won for writing "30 Rock."
Bobby Cannavale, from "Boardwalk Empire," won as best supporting actor in a drama, and Anna Gunn from "Breaking Bad" won the best actress award in the same category.
The ceremony's first hour was relatively somber, with memorial tributes and a doleful song by Elton John in honor of the late musical star Liberace, the subject of the nominated biopic "Behind the Candelabra."
"Liberace left us 25 years ago and what a difference those years have made to people like me," said John, who is openly gay in contrast to the closeted Liberace portrayed in the TV movie.
Robin Williams offered another tribute. "Jonathan Winters was my mentor," Williams said of the actor-comedian. "I told him that and he said, 'Please, I prefer 'idol.'"
ABC's "Modern Family" won for best comedy series and AMC's "Breaking Bad" took home the best drama series Emmy.