LOS ANGELES —
"Dang if he didn't make it look powerful easy while he was going about it," Howard said.
Phyllis Diller, Davy Jones of "The Monkees," Sherman Hemsley and Richard Dawson were among the others honored in a montage.
Earlier in the show, Kimmel dared to mock the in memorian package that typically airs at awards shows with one showing him in various guises. Josh Groban sang a mournful "You're Beautiful" in background.
"I will be missed," Kimmel said.
Perhaps Kimmel's most notable achievement was a prank: Inviting "30 Rock" star Tracy Morgan to lie on the stage, then asking viewers to post on Facebook and tweet that Morgan "just passed out" and turn on ABC right now to see it. It worked, with the message going viral and maybe even boosting the Emmy audience for a few moments.
Maggie Smith was honored as best supporting drama actress for her tart-tongued dowager in "Downton Abbey," unhurt by the program's move from the miniseries category.
"Homeland," the domestic espionage thriller, won the best drama writing award.
"Modern Family" made it look easy as the comedy won the best directing trophy and Eric Stonestreet and Julie Bowen claimed supporting actor awards. There was at least a minor backlash online as some questioned whether the show had a deserving season.
Stonestreet was funny and touching as he accepted for his role as half of a devoted gay couple.
"I wouldn't be standing here without Jesse Tyler Ferguson, there is no Cam without Mitch," he said, saluting his co-star. "We get the awesome opportunity to play these two characters on TV and show America and the world what a loving couple we can be just like everybody else."