updated 08/25/2015 AT 8:16 PM ET
•originally published 09/22/2013 AT 11:45 PM ET
There was an outcry when the Emmy producers announced that they were paying special tribute during Sunday’s telecast to five people the industry had lost over the past year.
The rumblings were so loud about what some saw as favoritism that even Emmys host Neil Patrick Harris stepped into the fray to explain the reasoning.
“I always find the In Memoriam is just really interesting because sometimes it seems weird that they keep the audio on in the house, so some people get applause and some people don’t, and it turns it into this weird moment,” he told Access Hollywood. “And you want that moment to be honoring those people, and not a competition.”
Came airtime, the tributes were a heartfelt salute to comedian Jonathan Winters, All in the Family’s Jean Stapleton, Glee’s Cory Monteith, Family Ties creator Gary David Goldberg and Sopranos star James Gandolfini, and few could argue with that sentiment.
Here are portions of what was said by people who knew them well.
“Jonathan Winters was my mentor. I once told him that and he said, ‘Please. I prefer “Idol,” ’ ” said his Mork and Mindy costar Robin Williams. “The beauty of Jonathan was that he was a big, brilliant kid that never grew up and the world was his playground. In April, Johnny turned out the lights, but he sure burned bright while he was here. Thanks for the spark, big guy.”