"Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Are you kidding me? I don't know what I'm going to talk about in therapy next week. I actually won something," Bowen said as she accepted the award onstage.
She offered special thanks to her "two husbands — Ty Burrell, my TV husband, and my real husband, Scott Phillips. Happy anniversary, honey."
Burrell won the next award, for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy.
The 41-year-old Bowen was up last year for the same award but did not win. This is her first Emmy after almost two decades in television — and some very impressive work in network TV.
Onscreen, Bowen plays a TV mom who strives for perfection. She has three TV children and a husband who could easily qualify as a fourth.
Off-screen, Bowen is also a mother of three. Between the series and the children, she is one of the most sleep-deprived actresses in Hollywood, at least in her telling.
"It's very glamorous, lack of sleep," Bowen said in a recent Sun magazine profile when asked about her life in Hollywood these days as the Emmy-nominated co-star of a hit TV series.
Bowen, who grew up in Ruxton and attended the Calvert School and Garrison Forest, is one of three daughters. She graduated from Brown University. Her parents, Jack and Susie Luetkemeyer, and most of her family still live in Baltimore.
Bowen was the darling of the Web Sunday night after winning the first Emmy handed out. There were stories about one of her children throwing up on her earlier in the day. There was also a story about the dress that Bowen ultimately wore to the show — a black, v-neck Oscar de la Renta gown.
"I'm built like a 14-year-old boy," she told People. "I have no waist, so anything I wear has to have a lot of trickeration going on. I don't fit into girl-dresses. I can't just slip it on."
Backstage, she and Burrell talked about their satisfaction in being involved in a series that has not only found a large audience and critical acclaim, but also is seen by some as helping change attitudes toward same-sex couples. Included in the extended "Modern Family" clan is a gay couple with an adopted child.
"To me, it's absurd that it is an issue," she told TheWrap website. "But in that it is an issue, I'm glad that we're helping to change minds.
As for winning the Emmy, in her typically self-deprecating way, Bowen said she was gunning for Betty White, of "Hot in Cleveland," as best supporting actress.
"If I didn't have a dog in this fight, I would have voted for Betty White," she said.
Recent tweets from Baltimore Sun media and television critic David Zurawik: