By Jill Serjeant
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Who says you have to be skinny, young and glamorous to make it in Hollywood?
Not the voters at the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences who spread the love in their Primetime Emmy Award nominations on Thursday to a slew of actors who smash the stereotype of wafer-thin blondes and tall, dark handsome men.
Few nominees were more surprised than plus-sized actress Melissa McCarthy, who scored her first Emmy nod for her lead role in "Mike & Molly" -- a romantic comedy about two people who meet at an Overeaters Anonymous group.
"Yikes", gulped McCarthy, 40, who was announcing the nominees live on U.S. television when her own name came up. "Ok. Keep it together! Wow!" she added.
The Emmy nod is icing on the Hollywood cake for McCarthy, whose show was initially criticized for making fun of fat people but went on to become one of the most popular new comedies on U.S. television. McCarthy, who has labored for years in bit parts, is also a scene-stealer in the raunchy summer hit movie "Bridesmaids".
But McCarthy was in good company on Thursday. Veteran Betty White, 89, who is enjoying a late career renaissance, and Cloris Leachman, 85, got their 17th and 22nd Emmy nominations respectively for playing characters that revel in their advancing years.
"I'm going to be 90 in January. Don't you think it's a little bit amazing to be lucky?" White told The Hollywood Reporter of her nomination for "Hot in Cleveland".
With the exception of Chris Colfer (Kurt), the youthful stars of musical comedy "Glee" were overlooked, while Dot-Marie Jones, 47, -- a former world arm wrestling champion -- was nominated in the guest actress category for her turn as never-been-kissed football coach Shannon Beiste on the show.
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Curvaceous Christina Hendricks was recognized again for her role as the sexy head secretary who keeps TV's "Mad Men" in line. Randee Heller, 64, who plays the eccentric (now dead) Miss Blankenship -- the gray-haired, keeper to the door of Don Draper's office -- won a surprise guest actress nod. Fans of Blankenship last year created a Facebook page in her honor.
Kathy Bates, 63, nabbed a best actress mention for her role as a fired, cantankerous lawyer in the drama "Harry's Law" -- a part that was originally written for a crusty, older man.
Like your stars scrubbed down rather than made-up? Try Mireille Enos, the moody, jeans and sneakers-clad detective in AMC's crime thriller "The Killing" who scored her first Emmy nomination in the lead actress category.
Enos was joined by her "The Killing" co-star Michelle Forbes, who plays a drab, grief-wracked mother.
"At this stage in my life I've learned to not have very many expectations when it comes to this industry," Forbes, 46, commented of her first Primetime Emmy nod.
It wasn't just women of all hues who caught the eye of the Television Academy this year.
Former "Friends" star Matt LeBlanc, 43 -- now sporting gray hair on his new program -- scored a lead actor nomination for playing a version of both himself and his old skirt-chasing alter-ego Joey Tribbiani in his new satirical show "Episodes".
And Andre Braugher will compete in the supporting actor slot for his performance as one of the "Men of a Certain Age" against 4 ft 5 in (1.35 meter) Peter Dinklage, who plays a scheming drunken dwarf in HBO's popular fantasy series "Game of Thrones."
(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)