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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Comedian Ellen DeGeneres and cooking-lifestyle guru Rachael Ray shared the Daytime Emmy spotlight on Friday as they split U.S. television's top two awards for entertainment talks shows.
In another high point of the evening, Jeanne Cooper, the grand dame of America's longtime No. 1 soap opera, was named best lead actress in a drama series for her 35-year role as Katherine Chancellor on "The Young and the Restless."
It was the first Emmy win after eight nominations for Cooper, who is one of only two remaining "The Young and the Restless" cast members from the early days of the show.
"I bet you thought I died," the 79-year-old actress joked as she accepted her award, adding later, "This is totally shocking to me."
Veteran "General Hospital" star Anthony Geary, who plays the popular Luke Spencer character, won his sixth trophy as best lead actor. "General Hospital" was named best daytime drama series for a record 10th year.
The victory for "Rachael Ray" in the race for best talk show marked an upset triumph over "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," which had won the prize in each of the last four years.
"Wow! Holy cat," a stunned Ray enthused on stage. "I really can't breathe."
Ray, whose syndicated series was spun off from recurrent appearances on Oprah Winfrey's show, has grown quickly into a ubiquitous brand highlighting a homespun, easy approach to cooking based on her "30 Minute Meals" concept.
She made headlines last month when a Dunkin' Donuts ad she appeared in was yanked after a Fox News Channel commentator complained the scarf Ray wore resembled a Muslim kaffiyeh.
Although her program lost out to Ray, DeGeneres pulled off a triumph for a fourth straight year as best talk show host. In doing so, she prevailed again over the co-hosting ensemble of "The View," led by creator-producer Barbara Walters and newly installed moderator Whoopi Goldberg.
Another team of perennial joint nominees, Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa of the morning show "Live with Regis and Kelly," extended their losing streak as well.
But Philbin, 76, was not sent home empty-handed. The veteran TV personality, who got his big break as Joey Bishop's sidekick in the 1960s and hosted the game show hit "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" decades later, received a lifetime achievement award recognizing his 47 years in the business.
DeGeneres' win capped a tumultuous year for the comedian in which she sparked a national uproar over an adopted puppy, ad-libbed her way through the writers strike and announced plans to wed her long-time partner, actress Portia de Rossi, after a California court ruling allowing gay marriage.
"I never take this for granted," DeGeneres, 50, said taking the stage to accept the prize. "This has been a crazy year and ... we've done a lot of crying and a lot of laughing, and I cried all by myself and then people laughed."
It was an obvious reference to tears DeGeneres shed last October when she recounted on the air how an animal rescue group took back a puppy she had adopted because she had given the dog, Iggy, to a friend without first notifying the agency.
Another bittersweet moment Friday night came as Jennifer Landon, 24, the daughter of the late TV star Michael Landon ("Bonanza," "Little House on the Prairie") saluted her father in French as she accepted her third consecutive award as best younger actress for her role on "As the World Turns."
"It was a little salute to my pops: 'For you always, I love you,"' she said backstage when asked for a rough translation.
The 35th annual edition of the awards was broadcast live on ABC from Hollywood's Kodak Theater, home of the Oscars.
Editing by Anthony Boadle