'Temple Grandin' wins big at Emmys. But who is she?

Emmys-temple-GrandinImage Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty ImageWho is Temple Grandin? Her name was called out seven times at last night’s Emmy Awards, where the rancher-attired Grandin herself was “a palpable presence,” in the L.A. Times‘ words, “at one point, rising and excitedly swinging her hand lasso style from the audience.”¬†Grandin was there, of course, as part of the HBO movie named after her, in which she was played by the Best Actress in a Miniseries or Movie-winning Claire Danes.

Born in 1947, Grandin was diagnosed as autistic at a young age due to her inability to speak or function socially like other children. As an adult, Grandin became a renowned public advocate for those born on the autistic spectrum. Her high-functioning autism ultimately allowed her to earn a doctorate in animal science, become a university professor, and pen an autobiography about her experiences. She has also made notable contributions to the ethical treatment of livestock. Grandin, who believes that her autism helps gives her insight into the feelings of farm creatures, famously designed more humane corrals for cows headed for slaughter.

Grandin has been the subject of several film treatments before HBO’s award-winning movie, including a BBC documentary (“The Woman Who Thinks Like A Cow”) and an episode of director Errol Morris’ First Person. (Click through to the jump to see clips from both of those shows.)

In our review this February, EW’s Jennifer Armstrong said HBO’s¬†Temple Grandin “put[s] us right inside the mind of its subject” and praised Danes for “transcend[ing] a standard awards-bait performance.” According to Deadline Hollywood, Danes said after the Emmys last night that she “never worked harder on a performance.”

Were you a fan of HBO’s Temple Grandin? Pleased by the Emmys love? Let’s hear it. And to read what EW wrote about Emmy’s other big winners in the movie and miniseries categories — The Pacific and You Don’t Know Jack — click here and here.

Read more:
2010 Emmy Awards: ‘Modern Family’ triumphs, ‘Mad Men’ wins again
Emmys: 14 Memorable Moments
Emmys 2010: Best/Worst Style

Comments (147 total) Add your comment
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  • Damon

    This movie was very good. I’m happy that they made this because autism is a very complex and unique condition. I have two autistic brothers and they can’t talk but do extraordinarily in other areas. Cleaning, writing, and using sign language to show you want they want. Amazing.

    • Rush

      I thought it was k.d. lang after she had aged quite a bit.

      • Shirley

        Rush, you are an idiot.

      • Lily

        not funny. but funny couldn’t help but LOL.

      • @Rush

        …yeah, an older, more feminine looking k.d. lang.

      • Jim

        @Rush: Nice, man. It takes a small man to reduce the woman’s lifetime accomplishments by commenting on her appearance.

      • Seqvere

        No worries, Rush. I thought it was John Lithgow…

    • Melissa

      For once, my husband, a farmer/rancher, actually knew someone at the Emmys – Temple Grandin – this article does not do her justice! She is well respected and an authority on the movement of livestock, esp. in the slaughter house. No reputable article appears without a quote or something from her. Wow!

  • mjade27

    So happy this won so many awards. The entire cast was wonderful and the film was very touching. As a parent of a child on the spectrum, I found it difficult to watch at times, but also very inspiring.

  • Claudia

    Excellent movie, happy it won so many deserving awards.

    • Lorie


  • Jan

    As a teacher of students with autism, Temple Grandin has been a hero of mine for many years. The speeches of the award winners brought me to tears but nothing melted my heart so much as watching Temple Grandin hug the producer. many people with autism, including Temple herself, according to her book, find it very difficult to engage in physical affection. I wish I could hug everyone involved! Claire Danes-awesome; Julia Ormond-portrayed a mother’s nnever giving up to perfection; David Strathairn-thank you for your eloquent words about teachers and your exquisite portrayal of one.

    • Killdozer

      Baaaawwww!!!! All teachers think they’re real “heroes” but they’re as common as rats and rarely make any impact whatsoever. Get a life!

      • Avid Pupil

        @KILLDOZER – This teacher didn’t claim to be a hero. You need to read her comment better before making off-handed comments like yours. Also, there are good and bad professionals in every aspect of life. I’ve had my share of horrible/difficult teachers and professors; however, the handful of really wonderful teachers and professors I’ve encountered throughout my education have made up for the ones who lack the ability to teach instead of preach. I became a writer because of a few very special ladies who encouraged me at a very young age to follow my passion. I’m a very successful writer at this juncture in my career and I wouldn’t change a thing. But I also know that I wouldn’t have followed this career path if it hadn’t been for Mrs. Barth and Mrs. Larson.

      • Lucas

        If you’re a famous writer then I’m George clooney. Teachers teach for a paycheck just like a garbageman or a carpenter. Lets not make them out to be saints.

      • Avid Pupil

        I never said I was famous, I said that was my career and I’ve been very successful at it and I have. And, though I may not be “famous”, I am a published author and have had my work published numerous times throughout my life beginning when I was in 8th grade. I happened to have been lucky enough to have had some really great teachers. But I also said I’ve had some really bad ones. Read the comments before you pass judgement.

      • ALM

        Completely unnecessary comment.

      • Mojo Jojo

        Forgive Killdozer, he attended Professor Fagin’s School for Scamps, Whippersnappers and Anklebiters, Inc. Young Killdozer excelled in rat catching, Fishbone Cuisine and Scarf Snatching. He graduated at the top of his class with an “I” for “Ill Tempered.”

      • talkin’

        killdozer – aptly named.
        “Twit” might also apply.

      • BlackIrish4094

        Whatever @sshole.

      • MTS

        I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Temple Gradin at one of her seminars. She is a unique individual and a credit to all humanity. As a mother with a child on the Autism Spectrum, I was very moved by the HBO movie and am thrilled by their success. Claire Danes was amazing !!

        Congrads HBO and actors !!

      • back@ya

        I’m sorry that Killdozer and Lucas never had an opportunity to meet or experience a truly inspirational teacher — if they had maybe they wouldn’t be so negative now. A sorry loss on both their parts. And, yes, Lucas, teachers teach for a paycheck like garbagemen and carpenters. And like doctors, lawyers, MBA executives, and film directors. Teaching is a choice. Note most teachers could have had fatter paychecks if they’d chosen a different career, like garbageman or carpenter, but that’s not the path they picked.

      • janey

        I guess all teachers had to give up on a creature as bullheaded as yourself?

      • cks

        It is so sad you did not benefit from an education. Most of us had at least one great teacher who affected our lives in a positive way.

      • peggym

        Education is a two-way street. The student has to give some effort for it to be successful. Were you the lump in the back who never paid attention?

      • mare grant

        Who educated YOU…a RAT or a TEACHER?

      • Jim

        What a jerk!

      • smokie

        I agree that you need to read comments thoroughly befre attacking innocent people with arrogant and ignorant comments….I have two children with special needs and two god children with similar conditions and unless you have any experience you might want to watch what you say and to whom…..furthermore if you have repressed feelings from negtive experiences from teachers then I suggest you get help and let it go……oh by the way I am obtaining a degree in Education to become a teacher as well as Business degree..why because I like Ms. Grandin….decided to find a solution or become a solution to the problem rather than complain about it like you…I too dislike the system with regards to teachers because some of them failed to educate and assist my children and now not only and I am waging a battle to defend my children but also I am becoming one so I can my help my children and others like them…Thank You Ms. Grandin for being an inspiration!

      • Amy

        Try giving teaching young children every day, year after year, a try. It requires a lot of yourself and is often a thankless job. So many don’t get paid nearly what they are worth!

      • DailyReader

        Killdozer, you are the one who need to get a life. Something is seriously missing from yours. It is easy to see why no teacher had an impact on you. Here’s a few suggestions: read a book, a magazine, a newspaper or watch PBS programs once in a while. You may be surprised to learn the difference between simple and informed. Even a shallow twit can improve. Try it.

    • Shawn

      @Lucas – Yeah, you’re right, nearly everyone works for a paycheck, from teachers, garbage collectors and carpenters, to soldiers, police officers and doctors. That doesn’t mean that if a garbageman volunteers their time to a river clean-up, a carpenter works pro bono to rebuild homes destroyed in a storm, a soldier puts his life on the line to save a civilian, a police officer does the same, or a doctor shows more interest and compassion in patient, that it shouldn’t be celebrated, admired or even awarded. There are people who above and beyond in this world, and I hope you come across someone like that some day.

      If it wasn’t for 2 professors I had in college who helped me when my father passed and I lost track of the direction I was heading, I don’t know how I would have graduated. They did more than they ever had to and much more than they were asked.

  • linda

    unlike the other two posters I don’t have any autistic family members and have average knowledge of autism in general. Because of the film I know much more than before. All that aside, it is a wonderful piece of work, Claire Danes was fantastic. I hope everyone sees it. You will not be disappointed.

  • Kristen

    Didn’t see the movie since it is on premium cable but LOVE Dr. Grandin. She is the type of person who would have acheived amazing things no matter what. Her autism simply pointed her in a certain direction. An inspiration to all!

    • Spike5

      Temple Grandin is indeed an amazing person. But without the intense therapeutic intervention and understanding of her family, teachers, and co-workers, she might very well have spent her life in an institution for the mentally deficient. To say otherwise is to refuse to admit the handicaps faced by any person with this disorder and to deny the hard work and courage of everyone involved. Since you did NOT see this great movie, you really don’t know the full story.

      • Grabulous

        I think the point Kristen was trying to make is that Temple Grandin didn’t allow autism to hinder her. Without autism she may have been just as successful at something else, but circumstances lead to her particular extraordinary achievements. Don’t be too quick to judge.

    • Daria

      You can order the movie on netflix or rent it from a video store now!

  • Dawn

    The movie was terrific. I was glad to see her interest in the humane treatment of animals expanding into mustang roundups http://www.grandin.com The more we embrace our differences, the more we can learn from each other. Congratulations, Dr. Grandin!

  • Lisa

    I’m glad, she’s great. I think this might be helpful to parents of autistic children too.

  • Mary Grube

    I saw this movie a few months ago on a plane. I came home and had to rent it to show my husband. I’ve always been a Claire Danes fan, but this was a very moving, inspirational movie. Great message for today’s “instant gratification” society.

  • Ruth Gardner

    I am elated over the recognition given to Temple Grandin. I am a mother of an 11yo autistic son and have had the amazing experience of meeting and talking to Temple on 2 different occasions and she is an incredible person. She helped me to understand different treatments for my son and at a time when the doctors couldn’t even help she gave me advice that was my life saver. It is so rewarding to finally see such a deserving film(actors, producer alike) get the recognition so well deserved. Hats off to Temple and to her dediccation to the autism world!

  • Brenda Walters

    As the mother of an autistic son, who is thirty one now Temple Grandin is an inspiration and an advocate..thank God for her!

  • Anitamargarita

    I haven’t seen this HBO movie, but I’ve read some of her books, and they are fascinating.

  • Dr Rand Pink

    Due to time constraints, the Emmy producers eliminated photo ops, and asked the media to use the latests celebrity mug shots for all press.

  • Chazz Winterbottom

    I slept with Temple Grandin once and although she’s half-retarded we went through many positions and had a great time, and her prices were very reasonable.

    • Dave Barwitz

      While by your own admission miss Grandin is ‘half-retarded’, You, sir are completely so. Get a life and go back to middle school, you fawning, insensitive twit…..Leave the adults to their business.

    • Chaz Winterbottom

      Take your two “z’s” and get out of here fake Chazz!

      How dare you soil my good name!

      • Chaz Winterbottom

        Y’know, I don’t have many friends in the real world, but I can come here to the message boards and be myself and everyone knows me. And now you ate trying to RUIN IT!

      • The Real Chaz Winterbottom

        Agh! You can take that extra “Z” away, but you’re still not the real Chaz! If you were the real Chaz you’d know what my favorite color is…and you don’t! You don’t, baby!

    • Lisa

      I think that you are likely the ‘half retarded one’ Do you have a PHD smartass?

    • janey

      Gee, wonder how she’d rate you?

    • Peter

      Yeah, I’d say anyone who’s slept with you is at least half-retarded.

    • Don

      Your mother must be very proud. Not many invertebrates can use a keyboard.

  • chris

    I bought this movie 2 weeks ago without any knowledge really of the subject matter except that it involved autism. And boy was I in for a treat. This film was hands down one of the best films I’ve seen this year. An exceptional performance by Claire(one of her best performances ever). If you haven’t seen it yet I definitely recommend it. A very heart felt story about perserverance against ignorance.

    • peter

      I was on a remote minesite in west australia and after work one evening i switched on the tv before going to the mess for a meal and decided to miss it because this is a fascinating story and beautifully presented, i worked in the cattle industry 40 to 50 years ago and what she demonstrated was a complete shift in the manner in which cattle were handled at this time.

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