AFI Life Achievement Award

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AFI Life Achievement Award
American Film Institute (AFI) logo.svg
Logo of AFI
Awarded forHonoring an individual whose career in motion pictures or television has greatly contributed to the enrichment of American culture.
LocationLos Angeles
Presented byAmerican Film Institute
First awarded1973; 49 years ago (1973)[1]
Currently held byJulie Andrews
Television/radio coverage

The AFI Life Achievement Award was established by the board of directors of the American Film Institute on February 26, 1973, to honor a single individual for his or her lifetime contribution to enriching American culture through motion pictures and television.[2] The recipient is selected and honored at a ceremony annually, with the award presented by a master of ceremonies and recently, the prior year's recipient, who usually gives a brief synopsis of the awarded individual and career background including highlights and achievements.

The trustees initially specified that the recipient must be one who fundamentally advanced the art of film and whose achievements had been acknowledged by the general public as well as by film scholars and critics and the individual's peers. The trustees also specified that the work of the recipient must have withstood the test of time.

History of the award[edit]

Director John Ford was the unanimous choice of the board of trustees for the first award as he "clearly stands preeminent in the history of motion pictures."

President Richard Nixon attended the gala dinner at which Ford was presented the award on March 31, 1973.[2]

The board of trustees later amended the "test of time" requirement to enable the AFI Life Achievement Award to be presented to individuals with active careers, such as Steven Spielberg.[2]


Actress Lillian Gish was awarded the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1984, aged 90, becoming the oldest recipient of the prize, whilst Mel Brooks was the oldest male, awarded aged 86 in 2013.

Actor Tom Hanks was awarded the AFI Life Achievement Award in 2002, aged 46, becoming the youngest recipient of the prize, whilst Meryl Streep was the youngest female, awarded aged 54 in 2004.

Out of the 48 honorees ten have been women: Bette Davis (the first female recipient), Lillian Gish, Barbara Stanwyck, Elizabeth Taylor, Barbra Streisand, Meryl Streep, Shirley MacLaine, Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, and Julie Andrews.

Composer John Williams was the first recipient of the award to have not come predominantly from the acting or directing fields.

Three sets of family members have received the award: father and son Kirk and Michael Douglas, father and daughter Henry and Jane Fonda, and siblings Warren Beatty and Shirley MacLaine.

Julie Andrews' award event was originally scheduled for April 25, 2020, with a broadcast on May 7 on TNT, but the event was postponed for 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This marks the first time an AFI Life Achievement Award event was delayed.[3][4] The event was rescheduled for November 11th, 2021, before it was postponed a second time on October 5th, 2021. [5]

Televised broadcast[edit]

All Life Achievement Award ceremonies have been televised on major TV networks and cable channels: CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, USA, TV Land, TNT and TBS. Agreeing to appear at the televised ceremony apparently is part of the AFI's criteria for selecting the award. The televised ceremony generates income for the AFI, which is no longer funded by the US government.


The American Film Institute has awarded the AFI Life Achievement Award to one person each year since 1973. The 48th Award was presented to Julie Andrews in Los Angeles on June 9, 2022.[6] The event was broadcast on TNT on June 16th, 2022, and was broadcast on July 15th, 2022, on TCM in a lineup dedicated to Andrews.[7][8]

# Year Honoree Image Profession Age Date of Ceremony Network Award Presenter/Host
1 1973 John Ford John Ford 1946.jpg Director 79 March 31, 1973 CBS Danny Kaye (host)
2 1974 James Cagney James cagney promo photo (cropped, centered).jpg Actor 74 March 31, 1974 CBS Frank Sinatra (host)
3 1975 Orson Welles Orson Welles 1937.jpg Actor, Director, Screenwriter 59 February 9, 1975 CBS Frank Sinatra (host)
4 1976 William Wyler William Wyler portrait.jpg Director 73 March 9, 1976 CBS Gregory Peck (host)
5 1977 Bette Davis Bette Davis - portrait.jpg Actress 68 March 1, 1977 CBS Jane Fonda (host)
6 1978 Henry Fonda Henry Fonda, 1940.jpg Actor 72 March 15, 1978 CBS
7 1979 Alfred Hitchcock Hitchcock, Alfred 02.jpg Director 79 March 7, 1979 CBS Ingrid Bergman (host)
8 1980 James Stewart Annex - Stewart, James (Call Northside 777) 01.jpg Actor 71 March 16, 1980 CBS Henry Fonda (host)
9 1981 Fred Astaire Astaire, Fred - Never Get Rich.jpg Actor 81 April 10, 1981 CBS David Niven (host)
10 1982 Frank Capra Frank Capra.jpg Director 84 March 4, 1982 CBS James Stewart (host)
11 1983 John Huston John Huston - publicity.JPG Actor, Director, Screenwriter 76 March 3, 1983 CBS Lauren Bacall (host)
12 1984 Lillian Gish Lillian Gish-edit1.jpg Actress 90 March 1, 1984 CBS Douglas Fairbanks Jr. (host)
13 1985 Gene Kelly Gene kelly.jpg Actor, Director 72 March 7, 1985 CBS Shirley MacLaine (host)
14 1986 Billy Wilder Billy Wilder.jpg Director, Screenwriter 79 March 6, 1986 NBC Jack Lemmon (host)
15 1987 Barbara Stanwyck BarbaraS39.jpg Actress 79 April 9, 1987 ABC Jane Fonda (host)
16 1988 Jack Lemmon Jack Lemmon - 1968.jpg Actor 63 March 10, 1988 CBS Julie Andrews (host)
17 1989 Gregory Peck Peck The Valley of Decision.jpg Actor 72 March 9, 1989 NBC Audrey Hepburn (host)
18 1990 David Lean Lean-in-Joensuu-1965 CROPPED.jpg Director, Screenwriter 82 March 8, 1990 ABC Gregory Peck (host)
19 1991 Kirk Douglas Studio publicity Kirk Douglas.jpg Actor 74 March 7, 1991 CBS Michael Douglas (host)
20 1992 Sidney Poitier Sidney Poitier 1968.jpg Actor, Director 65 March 12, 1992 NBC Harry Belafonte (host)
21 1993 Elizabeth Taylor Elizabeth Taylor, late 1950s.jpg Actress 61 March 11, 1993 ABC Carol Burnett (host)
22 1994 Jack Nicholson Jack Nicholson 2002 (cropped).jpg Actor 56 March 3, 1994 CBS Mike Nichols
23 1995 Steven Spielberg Steven Spielberg Masterclass Cinémathèque Française 2.jpg Director 48 March 2, 1995 NBC Sidney Sheinberg
24 1996 Clint Eastwood Clint Eastwood J. Edgar Premier, November 2011 (cropped).jpg Actor, Director 65 February 29, 1996 ABC Steven Spielberg
25 1997 Martin Scorsese Martin Scorsese by David Shankbone.jpg Director, Screenwriter 54 February 20, 1997 CBS Gregory Peck
26 1998 Robert Wise Robert wise 1990.jpg Director 83 February 19, 1998 NBC Julie Andrews
27 1999 Dustin Hoffman Dustin Hoffman Cannes 2017.jpg Actor 61 February 18, 1999 ABC Jack Nicholson
28 2000 Harrison Ford Harrison Ford by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg Actor 57 February 17, 2000 CBS George Lucas & Steven Spielberg
29 2001 Barbra Streisand Barbra Streisand with Francis Collins and Anthony Fauci (27806589237) (cropped).jpg Actress, Director 58 February 22, 2001[9] Fox Sidney Poitier
30 2002 Tom Hanks Tom Hanks TIFF 2019.jpg Actor 46 June 24, 2002 USA Network Steven Spielberg
31 2003 Robert De Niro Robert De Niro Cannes 2016.jpg Actor 59 June 12, 2003 USA Network Martin Scorsese
32 2004 Meryl Streep Meryl Streep December 2018.jpg Actress 54 June 21, 2004 USA Network Mike Nichols
33 2005 George Lucas George Lucas cropped 2009.jpg Director, Screenwriter 61 June 9, 2005 USA Network Steven Spielberg
34 2006 Sean Connery Sean Connery (1983).jpg Actor 75 June 8, 2006 USA Network Harrison Ford
35 2007 Al Pacino Al Pacino 2016 (30401544240).jpg Actor 67 June 7, 2007 USA Network Sean Penn
36 2008 Warren Beatty Warren Beatty.jpg Actor, Director, Screenwriter 71 June 12, 2008 USA Network Al Pacino
37 2009 Michael Douglas Michael Douglas César 2016 3.jpg Actor 64 June 11, 2009 TV Land Jack Nicholson
38 2010 Mike Nichols Mikenichols.jpg Director 78 June 10, 2010 TV Land Meryl Streep
39 2011 Morgan Freeman Morgan Freeman Deauville 2018.jpg Actor 74 June 9, 2011 TV Land Clint Eastwood
40 2012 Shirley MacLaine Shirley MacLaine - 1960.jpg Actress 78 June 7, 2012 TV Land Meryl Streep
41 2013 Mel Brooks Mel Brooks.jpg Actor, Director, Screenwriter 86 June 15, 2013 TNT Martin Scorsese
42 2014 Jane Fonda Jane Fonda Cannes 2015.jpg Actress 76 June 13, 2014 TNT Michael Douglas
43 2015 Steve Martin Steve Martin 2011.jpg Actor, Screenwriter 69 June 4, 2015 TBS Mel Brooks
44 2016 John Williams John Williams tux.jpg Composer 84 June 9, 2016 TNT Steven Spielberg
45 2017 Diane Keaton Diane Keaton 2012-1 (cropped).jpg Actress 71 June 8, 2017 TNT Woody Allen
46 2018 George Clooney George Clooney 2016.jpg Actor, Director, Screenwriter 57 June 7, 2018 TNT Shirley MacLaine
47 2019 Denzel Washington Denzel Washington 2018.jpg Actor 64 June 6, 2019 TNT Spike Lee
48 2022 Julie Andrews Julie Andrews Park Hyatt, Sydney, Australia 2013.jpg Actress 86 June 9, 2022 TNT Carol Burnett[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "History of AFI". American Film Institute. Archived from the original on April 30, 2011. Retrieved May 5, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c "The AFI Life Achievement Awards". American Film Institute. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
  3. ^ "Julie Andrews to Receive 48th AFI Life Achievement Award | American Film Institute". Retrieved October 10, 2019.
  4. ^ "AFI Tribute to Julie Andrews Postponed". American Film Institute. Retrieved March 15, 2020.
  5. ^ "The 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Tribute to Julie Andrews Rescheduled". American Film Institute. Retrieved November 12, 2021.
  6. ^ "New Date Set for AFI Life Achievement Award Tribute to Julie Andrews". American Film Institute. Retrieved December 4, 2021.
  7. ^ Alexander, Bryan. "Julie Andrews accepts AFI award with Carol Burnett, Gwen Stefani tributes: 'I'm overwhelmed'". USA TODAY. Retrieved June 10, 2022.
  8. ^ "JULIE ANDREWS FETED AT 48TH AFI LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD". American Film Institute. Retrieved July 11, 2022.
  9. ^ AFI Achievement
  10. ^ "The Sound of Music Stars Who Played the von Trapp Kids Reunite to Honor Julie Andrews". E! Online. June 10, 2022. Retrieved June 10, 2022.

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