On Sunday, December 2, Hollywood stars, comedians, dancers, and musicians, brought their glamor and talent to the 35th Annual Kennedy Center Honors, celebrating the lifetime contributions of seven American performing artists. The yearly tradition, which takes place at the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington, D.C., is hosted by Caroline Kennedy, and produced by George Stevens Jr. and Michael Stevens. The duo has received three Emmy Awards for Outstanding Television Special for their work with the honors show. Together, they have received 19 Emmy Awards and 51 nominations.
This year’s honorees include blues artist Buddy Guy, actor and director Dustin Hoffman, rock band Led Zeppelin’s members John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant, comedian and TV host David Letterman, and ballerina Natalia Makarova.
The honorees received medallions on the night prior to the gala, during a State Department dinner hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The night of December 2 began with a welcome reception at the White House where President Obama thanked the artists for their cultural contributions, and reminisced about the artistic influences in his own life. The program then continued at The Kennedy Center, where the President and First Lady sat in the presidential box with the night’s honorees, and other prominent individuals including Xerox CEO Ursula Burns, authors Doris Kearns Goodwin and Richard Goodwin, Connie Milstein, owner of the Jefferson Hotel.
The Honors have been a tradition since 1978, and past honorees include Katharine Hepburn, Paul Newman, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Clint Eastwood, Julie Andrews, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Martin Scorsese, Oprah Winfrey, Yo-Yo Ma, and Meryl Streep, among others. Honorees are chosen by the Board of Trustees based on the Kennedy Center’s national artists committee’s input and former honoree’s recommendations. The Board of Trustees hopes to select a diverse group, across a variety of artistic disciplines.
Other notable guests from this year’s gala include Nancy Pelosi, Naomi Watts, Robert De Niro, Alec Baldwin, and Morgan Freeman. The gala will be broadcast to the public on CBS on Dec. 26.