The beloved actor and the leading filmmaker both died in May

By Aurelie Corinthios
July 28, 2020 04:16 PM
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Actor Fred Willard and director Lynn Shelton born earned Emmy nominations posthumously when the announcements were made on Tuesday morning.

Willard was nominated for outstanding guest actor in a comedy series for his role as Frank Dunphy in ABC's Modern Family. Shelton was nominated for her directing work on Hulu's Little Fires Everywhere.

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Willard died on May 15 at age 86. His final appearance on Modern Family, for which he was nominated, aired in January. The emotional episode, titled "Legacy," saw Frank and his son Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell) spend one last day together before Frank died of old age.

Willard played Frank for 14 episodes across all 11 seasons of the beloved sitcom. Tuesday's nomination marked the actor's fifth Emmy nomination. He also earned a nomination for his Modern Family role in 2010.

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Shelton, a leading voice in the world of independent film and the director of several popular TV series, died on May 16 of a previously unidentified blood disorder. She was 54.

The creative and romantic partner of Marc Maron, Shelton was nominated for outstanding directing for a limited series, movie or dramatic special for Little Fires Everywhere.

It's the first Emmy nomination for Shelton, who is up for the finale episode "Find a Way." The show is based on Celeste Ng's novel of the same name and stars Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon.

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"That Lynn is honored by the Television Academy is not only a tribute to her accomplishments as a director but her style of directing," Lynn's parents Wendy Roedell and David "Mac" Shelton said in a statement. "Always in control but kind-hearted. Making the final decisions but always soliciting input from her colleagues. Colleagues, yes, that is how she regarded everyone on the set, from grips and gaffers and set and costume designers to the director of photography and the actors."

"This is an honor for the ultimate collaborationist who knew that she would produce her best if she teased the best out of her teammates," they continued.

Little Fires Everywhere scored a total of five nominations, including outstanding limited series and outstanding lead actress in a limited series or movie for Washington.

Washington, 43, paid tribute to the late director in a statement, saying "the tears came this morning when I heard about Lynn Shelton's nomination for Little Fires Everywhere."

"I'm so incredibly grateful that the Television Academy has chosen to honor Lynn with this very deserved nomination," she said. "I know she’s celebrating in the beyond."

Creator/showrunner Liz Tigelaar also honored Sheldon in her statement, saying, in part, "To make a show about race and class and motherhood at this particular time was a deep honor and the best, most illuminating experience of my professional life. It’s also been such a time of grief. We have been in mourning as a show – for the loss of our beloved director, Lynn Shelton, who is missed every day, and also for the deep grief that our country is experiencing, in the wake of the wave of senseless murders of Black men and women."

The 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, will air live Sep. 20 on ABC.