Kennedy Center Honors
|Kennedy Center Honors|
|Awarded for||Lifetime Contributions to American Culture through the Performing Arts.|
|Presented by||Board of Trustees of the Kennedy Center|
|Official website||Kennedy Center Honors|
As compared to knighthood in Britain or the French Legion of Honor, the Kennedy Center Honors annually recognizes those in the performing arts for their lifetime of contributions to American culture (though they do not need to be U.S. citizens). The Honors have been presented annually since 1978, and each December culminate in a star-studded gala celebrating the Honorees in the Kennedy Center Opera House.
Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss of White Cherry Entertainment have been selected as Executive Producers of the 38th annual Kennedy Center Honors. On December 6, 2015, the Kennedy Center will celebrate the lifetime achievements of American rock band the Eagles, singer-songwriter Carole King, filmmaker George Lucas, actress and singer Rita Moreno, conductor Seiji Ozawa, and actress and Broadway star Cicely Tyson. CBS will broadcast the Honors gala on December 29, 2015.
Honoree recommendations are accepted from the general public, and the Kennedy Center initiated a Special Honors Advisory Committee, which comprises two members of the Board of Trustees as well as past Honorees and distinguished artists. The Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees selects the Honoree recipients based on excellence in music, dance, theater, opera, motion pictures, or television.
The weekend-long ceremony includes the Chairman's Luncheon, State Department dinner, White House reception and the Honors gala and supper.
Surrounded by the Honorees, the luncheon is held on Saturday at the Kennedy Center, with a welcoming speech by the Chairman of the Board of Trustees. At that evening's reception and dinner at the State Department, presided over by the Secretary of State, the Honorees are introduced and the Honors medallions are presented by the Chairman of the Board.
There have been 203 recipients to date of the Kennedy Center Honors Awards during the Honor's 38 years[dated info]. The vast majority have been bestowed on individuals. On ten occasions since 1985, awards have been presented to duos or groups, including three married couples: lyricist Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe, actors Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy, musical-comedy duo Betty Comden and Adolph Green, dancers Fayard Nicholas and Harold Nicholas, actors Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, songwriters John Kander and Fred Ebb, actors Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, musicians Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey of The Who and the members of Led Zeppelin and The Eagles.
- 1978 — Marian Anderson, Fred Astaire, George Balanchine, Richard Rodgers, and Arthur Rubinstein
- 1979 — Aaron Copland, Ella Fitzgerald, Henry Fonda, Martha Graham, and Tennessee Williams
- 1980 — Leonard Bernstein, James Cagney, Agnes de Mille, Lynn Fontanne, and Leontyne Price
- 1981 — Count Basie, Cary Grant, Helen Hayes, Jerome Robbins, and Rudolf Serkin
- 1982 — George Abbott, Lillian Gish, Benny Goodman, Gene Kelly, and Eugene Ormandy
- 1983 — Katherine Dunham, Elia Kazan, Frank Sinatra, James Stewart, and Virgil Thomson
- 1984 — Lena Horne, Danny Kaye, Gian Carlo Menotti, Arthur Miller, and Isaac Stern
- 1985 — Merce Cunningham, Irene Dunne, Bob Hope, Alan Jay Lerner & Frederick Loewe, and Beverly Sills
- 1986 — Lucille Ball, Ray Charles, Hume Cronyn & Jessica Tandy, Yehudi Menuhin, and Antony Tudor
- 1987 — Perry Como, Bette Davis, Sammy Davis, Jr., Nathan Milstein, and Alwin Nikolais
- 1988 — Alvin Ailey, George Burns, Myrna Loy, Alexander Schneider, and Roger L. Stevens
- 1989 — Harry Belafonte, Claudette Colbert, Alexandra Danilova, Mary Martin, and William Schuman
- 1990 — Dizzy Gillespie, Katharine Hepburn, Risë Stevens, Jule Styne, and Billy Wilder
- 1991 — Roy Acuff, Betty Comden & Adolph Green, Fayard & Harold Nicholas, Gregory Peck, and Robert Shaw
- 1992 — Lionel Hampton, Paul Newman & Joanne Woodward, Ginger Rogers, Mstislav Rostropovich, and Paul Taylor
- 1993 — Johnny Carson, Arthur Mitchell, Georg Solti, Stephen Sondheim, and Marion Williams
- 1994 — Kirk Douglas, Aretha Franklin, Morton Gould, Harold Prince, and Pete Seeger
- 1995 — Jacques d'Amboise, Marilyn Horne, B.B. King, Sidney Poitier, and Neil Simon
- 1996 — Edward Albee, Benny Carter, Johnny Cash, Jack Lemmon, and Maria Tallchief
- 1997 — Lauren Bacall, Bob Dylan, Charlton Heston, Jessye Norman, and Edward Villella
- 1998 — Bill Cosby, Fred Ebb & John Kander, Willie Nelson, André Previn, and Shirley Temple Black
- 1999 — Victor Borge, Sean Connery, Judith Jamison, Jason Robards, and Stevie Wonder
- 2000 — Mikhail Baryshnikov, Chuck Berry, Plácido Domingo, Clint Eastwood, and Angela Lansbury
- 2001 — Julie Andrews, Van Cliburn, Quincy Jones, Jack Nicholson, and Luciano Pavarotti
- 2002 — James Earl Jones, James Levine, Chita Rivera, Paul Simon, and Elizabeth Taylor
- 2003 — James Brown, Carol Burnett, Loretta Lynn, Mike Nichols, and Itzhak Perlman
- 2004 — Warren Beatty, Ossie Davis & Ruby Dee, Elton John, Joan Sutherland, and John Williams
- 2005 — Tony Bennett, Suzanne Farrell, Julie Harris, Robert Redford, and Tina Turner
- 2006 — Zubin Mehta, Dolly Parton, Smokey Robinson, Steven Spielberg, and Andrew Lloyd Webber
- 2007 — Leon Fleisher, Steve Martin, Diana Ross, Martin Scorsese, and Brian Wilson
- 2008 — Morgan Freeman, George Jones, Barbra Streisand, Twyla Tharp, and The Who (Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey)
- 2009 — Mel Brooks, Dave Brubeck, Grace Bumbry, Robert De Niro, and Bruce Springsteen
- 2010 — Merle Haggard, Jerry Herman, Bill T. Jones, Paul McCartney, and Oprah Winfrey
- 2011 — Barbara Cook, Neil Diamond, Yo-Yo Ma, Sonny Rollins, and Meryl Streep
- 2012 — Buddy Guy, Dustin Hoffman, Led Zeppelin (John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant), David Letterman, and Natalia Makarova
- 2013 — Martina Arroyo, Herbie Hancock, Billy Joel, Shirley MacLaine, and Carlos Santana
- 2014 — Al Green, Tom Hanks, Patricia McBride, Sting, and Lily Tomlin
- 2015 — The Eagles (Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Timothy B. Schmit and Joe Walsh), Carole King, George Lucas, Rita Moreno, Seiji Ozawa, and Cicely Tyson
Prospective honorees who declined, canceled or postponed
Pianist Vladimir Horowitz was to be an honoree, but the selection committee withdrew the offer when Horowitz conditioned his acceptance on being honored alone and at 4 in the afternoon. Actress Katharine Hepburn declined the committee's first offer, though she relented in 1990.
When considering Irving Berlin for the 1987 awards because of criticism for overlooking him, the Center was informed that Berlin wanted to be honored only if he surpassed his 100th birthday (which would not be until May 1988). Also, he was in failing health, being confined to a wheelchair following a series of strokes, and could not attend a public event. The Center instead chose to pay special tribute to him at the 1987 Gala.
Paul McCartney was selected as an honoree in 2002, but the award was postponed a year when McCartney was unable to attend because of an "inescapable personal obligation". The obligation was the marriage of his cousin that had been previously planned months before the invitation. In August 2003 the Kennedy Center issued a one-sentence statement saying that "Paul McCartney will not be receiving a Kennedy Center Honor." McCartney later became a 2010 honoree.
- Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, the Kennedy Center's award for contributions to American humor
- "About the Honors" Kennedy Center, accessed October 4, 2015
- "Barbara Cook, Neil Diamond, Yo-Yo Ma, Sonny Rollins & Meryl Streep to Receive 34th Annual Kennedy Center Honors" kennedy-center.org, accessed September 6, 2011
- Gans, Andrew. "Dustin Hoffman, David Letterman, Natalia Makarova, Buddy Guy, Led Zeppelin Are Kennedy Center Honorees" playbill.com, September 12, 2012
- Gans, Andrew. "Martina Arroyo, Herbie Hancock, Billy Joel, Shirley MacLaine and Carlos Santana Are 2013 Kennedy Center Honorees" playbill.com, September 12, 2013
- Harris, Paul (2014-09-04). "Tom Hanks, Lily Tomlin, Sting to Receive Kennedy Center Honors". Variety. Retrieved 2014-09-04.
- Viagas, Robert. "Carole King, Cicely Tyson, Rita Moreno and More Named 2015 Kennedy Center Honorees" playbill.com, July 15, 2015
- Crews, Chip."The Honors, Take 2"The Washington Post, December 27, 2005
- Molotsky, Irvin."Five Receive Kennedy Center Honors for Artistic Contributions" The New York Times , December 7, 1987
- "The Kennedy Center Honors: This Year's Bid for Glamour" The New York Times (registration required), August 6, 2003
- Trescott, Jacqueline."Oprah Winfrey among five recipients of 2010 Kennedy Center Honors"The Washington Post, September 7, 2010