Kennedy Center Honors


In 1978, the first Kennedy Center honorees were contralto Marian Anderson, dancer Fred Astaire, choreographer George Balanchine, composer Richard Rodgers and pianist Arthur Rubinstein.

Here’s a look at the recipients of the 37th Annual Kennedy Center Honors, who will be feted Sunday, Dec. 7:

Son of Arkansas sharecropper parents, he started out singing gospel and ended up selling 20-million-plus records and winning 11 Grammy Awards. Rolling Stone named this pop and soul star (and pastor) one of the 100 greatest singers of all time. Think “I’m So Tired of Being Alone,” “Let’s Stay Together,” “Take Me To the River.”

He went from sitcoms to rom-coms, notably “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail” with Meg Ryan. Back-to-back Oscars for “Philadelphia” and “Forrest Gump” followed. Then he produced the World War II epic series “Band of Brothers” and starred in “Saving Private Ryan,” never displaying an ego, flaming or otherwise.

Born Gordon Summer in Wallsend, England, he’s the ultimate Renaissance man: singer, musician, composer, author and actor. Having won 16 Grammy Awards, with the Police and as a solo act, he recently went on a spectacular tour with Paul Simon and currently has a show on Broadway, “The Last Ship.”

One of the most uniquely and originally funny and quirky women dead or alive, she was called a national treasure by none other than Richard Pryor. Her fame began on “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In,” where she created Ernestine and Edith Ann, and grew with her remarkable stage show, “The Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe,” and film roles.

A principal dancer with New York City Ballet for 28 years, she danced for five American presidents and worked with some of the greatest choreographers (George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, both of whom created roles for her) and dancers (Edward Villella, Mikhail Baryshnikov and her husband Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux) of her time.


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