Kennedy Center Honors: Our top 50 recommendations who need to be chosen include Dick Van Dyke, Liza Minnelli, Jessica Lange, Bette Midler
August 11, 2018
The next recipients for the Kennedy Center Honors will be announced in the late summer, often around Labor Day. The all-star event is held each year in the nation’s capital during the first weekend in December and then airs on CBS as a two-hour special after Christmas.
Each year, the selection committee chooses five entertainment veterans from a variety of fields – film, television, popular music, theatre, and the fine arts (dance, opera, classical music). Selected artists are almost always over 50 and generally are 60 and beyond.
The first recipients in 1978 were singer Marian Anderson, actor and dancer Fred Astaire, choreographer George Balanchine, composer Richard Rodgers and conductor Arthur Rubinstein. The most recent honorees in 2017 for the 40th anniversary program were dancer Carmen de Lavallade, singer Gloria Estefan, singer LL Cool J, producer and writer Norman Lear and singer Lionel Richie.
But there are a number of notable performers missing from the honors roll. Our photo gallery features 50 entertainers who deserve to be selected soon. For our purposes a person must be at least 60 years old to be in our gallery. We are not going to include the retired Doris Day and Gene Hackmanas well as the reclusive Woody Allen since attendance at the event is mandatory. Tour through our photos and sound off in the forums about who you think should be selected soon.SEEKennedy Center Honors: 20 Greatest Performances of All Time
1. Dick Van Dyke
Van Dyke is just an Oscar away from EGOT status. He is a five-time Emmy Award winner for “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “Van Dyke and Company,” and “The Wrong Way Kid.” He won a Tony Award for “Bye Bye Birdie” (1961) and a Grammy Award for “Mary Poppins” (1964). Van Dyke is a member of the Television Academy Hall of Fame and received the Screen Actors Guild life achievement award in 2013.
2. Liza Minnelli
Minnelli is very close to EGOT, having never won a Grammy Award before. She won a Tony Award for “Flora the Red Menace” (1965), an Oscar for “Cabaret” (1973), and an Emmy for “Liza with a Z” (1973). The daughter of legendary entertainer Judy Garland, other films have included “The Sterile Cuckoo” (1969, her first Oscar nomination), “New York, New York” (1977), and “Arthur” (1981).
3. Denzel Washington
Washington is the only African-American with two Academy Awards for acting (“Glory,” 1989; “Training Day,” 2001). His other Oscar nominations were for “Cry Freedom” (1987), “Malcolm X” (1992), “The Hurricane” (1999), “Flight” (2012), “Fences” (2016, producing and acting), and “Roman J. Israel, Esq.” (2017). He also won a Tony Award for the same role in “Fences” (2010).
4. Gladys Knight
The “Empress of Soul” started her career in 1952 on Ted Mack’s “Original Amateur Hour” TV show. Her group Gladys Knight and the Pips joined Motown in 1966 and became one of the top recording artists of the 1960s and 1970s with such hits as “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” “If I Were Your Woman,” “Neither One of Us,” and “Midnight Train to Georgia.” The six-time Grammy winner was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
5. Mick Jagger
Whether he gets selected by himself (like Paul McCartney) or with his group The Rolling Stones (like The Who and Led Zeppelin), this honor is long overdue. The lead singer was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with his band in 1989. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003. Their lengthy list of hit singles has included “Satisfaction,” “Get Off My Cloud,” “Ruby Tuesday,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Brown Sugar,” “Wild Horses,” “Angie,” and “Start Me Up.”
6. Jessica Lange
Lange is just one notch away from EGOT. She is a two-time Academy Award winner (“Tootsie,” 1982; “Blue Sky,” 1994) among her six nominations. She is a three-time Emmy champ (“Grey Gardens,” 2009; “American Horror Story,” 2012; and “American Horror Story: Coven,” 2014). Lange won a Tony Award in 2016 for “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” Other films in her career have included “Frances,” “Sweet Dreams,” “Crimes of the Heart,” “Cape Fear,” and “Big Fish.”
7. Alan Alda
Alda has established himself as a triple threat on television, on stage, and in films. He won five Emmy Awards for the legendary comedy series “M*A*S*H” spread out over acting, directing, and writing (the only person to prevail in only three fields). He also took home a sixth Emmy for his role on “The West Wing” and was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1994. He’s been nominated at the Oscars (“The Aviator,”), Grammys (“Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself,” 2008), and three times at the Tony Awards (“The Apple Tree,” 1967; “Jake’s Women,” 1992; “Glengarry Glen Ross,” 2005).
8. Bette Midler
Midler was a big hit right out of the gates when she won Best New Artist at the Grammy Awards in 1974. It was the first of three Grammys along with three Emmys for her variety specials and a Tony Award in 2017 for “Hello, Dolly.” That just puts her an Oscar away from EGOT, and she has competed at those awards twice as a leading actress for “The Rose” and “For the Boys.”
9. Harrison Ford
Ford is the biggest box office star in American history but still hasn’t had much of an awards career but did receive an Oscar nomination for “Witness” (1985). He was awarded the American Film Institute life achievement in 2000 and the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes in 2002. His film career has included “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Working Girl,” “Regarding Henry,” “Patriot Games,” “The Fugitive,” “Air Force One,” and “42.”
10. Reba McEntire
McEntire is a Country Music Hall of Fame member who has been one of the most popular singers and performers in the 1980s and beyond. She has had the most CMA Award nominations (49) and ACM Awards nominations (45) of any female artist. She has won two Grammy Awards for “Whoever’s in New England” (1987) and “Does He Love You?” (1994) among her 12 career nominations. McEntire has had a successful TV show with “Reba” (2001-2007) and was widely acclaimed for her Broadway debut in “Annie Get Your Gun” (2001).SEEACM Awards 2018: Reba McEntire held the record for Female Vocalist until Miranda Lambert broke it – can she take it back?
11. Tommy Tune
Tune has been one of the top choreographers and dancers in Broadway history. He is a nine-time Tony Award winner for his performances in “Seesaw” and “My One and Only,” for his direction of “Nine,” “Grand Hotel” and “The Will Rogers Follies” and choreography of “A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine,” “My One and Only,” “Grand Hotel” and “The Will Rogers Follies.”
12. Betty White
White is one of the favorite comedic performers in TV history and was inducted into the TV Academy Hall of Fame in 1995. She has won five prime-time Emmy Awards for “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “The Golden Girls,” “The John Larroquette Show” and “Saturday Night Live” plus a Daytime Emmy for “Just Men.”
13. Burt Bacharach
Bacharach has composed hundreds of songs in his lengthy career, many of them popular hits. He is a three-time Oscar winner for his original song and score in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and original song in “Arthur.” He is a two-time Grammy champ for “Cassidy” and “I Still Have That Other Girl” plus an Emmy winner for his 1971 variety special.
14. Diane Keaton
Keaton is an Oscar-winning actress (“Annie Hall,” 1977) who has been primarily working in films since the early 1970s. Her career has included “The Godfather,” “Reds,” “Marvin’s Room,” “Baby Boom,” “Father of the Bride,” “The First Wives Club” and “Something’s Gotta Give.” She was the 2017 recipient of the American Film Institute life achievement award.
15. Arturo Sandoval
The Cuban-born Sandoval is one of the greatest trumpet players in music history. He defected to America in 1990 while performing with previous KCH recipient Dizzy Gillespie. He is a 10-time Grammy winner, Emmy winner and recipient of the 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom.
16. Cynthia Gregory
Gregory is one of the most famous American prima ballerinas of recent decades. She first became well known in San Francisco as a teenager before joining the American Ballet Theatre in 1965. She has had roles in “Giselle,”” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Coppelia,” “Don Quixote,” “The Eternal Idol” and “At Midnight.”
17. Bob Newhart
Newhart has proven to be one of the most beloved comedians in American history since the early 1960s. In fact he won at the 1961 Grammy Awards as Best New Artist and for Album of the Year. He was inducted into the TV Academy Hall of Fame in 1993 for his roles on “The Bob Newhart Show” and “Newhart.” He won his only Emmy Award in 2013 for a guest role on “The Big Bang Theory.” He was the 2002 recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center.
18. Whoopi Goldberg
Goldberg is one of the few people who have achieved EGOT in her entertainment career. She won an Oscar for “Ghost,” a Grammy for her comedy album “Direct From Broadway,” a Tony Award for producing “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and a Daytime Emmy for hosting “The View.” Other film roles have included “The Color Purple,” “Sister Act” and “The Lion King.” She was the 2001 recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center.
19. Jerry Lee Lewis
Lewis is one of the pioneers of rock and roll known as “The Killer.” Starting in 1956 at Sun Records in Memphis, he recorded “Crazy Arms” and followed with hit songs “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” “Great Balls of Fire” and “Breathless.” He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
20. Emmylou Harris
Harris is as known for her songwriting as she is as one of the top country artists in history. She is a 13-time Grammy Award winner, including her first victory in 1977 for “Elite Hotel.” She was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008.SEEWhich 12 People Have the EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony)?
21. Eric Clapton
Clapton is the only person to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times (as a solo artist and as a member of The Yardbirds and Cream). The British guitarist and singer is one of the most influential of all time. He is an 18-time Grammy Award winner.
22. Jane Fonda
If Fonda is selected for a Kennedy Center Honors, she would be the first child of a previous recipient, her father Henry Fonda. She is a two-time Oscar winner for “Klute” (1971) and “Coming Home” (1978) and an Emmy winner for the TV movie “The Dollmaker” (1984). She received the 2014 American Film Institute life achievement award.
23. Frankie Valli
Valli is the best known founder of the pop and rock group The Four Seasons beginning in 1960. The group had major hit singles in “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Rag Doll” and “”December, 1963.” Valli had solo hits in “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” “My Eyes Adored You” and “Grease.” The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. “Jersey Boys,” a Broadway musical of their lives, is still being performed around the world.
24. Francis Ford Coppola
While Coppola hasn’t been a prolific director in the film industry, he has been highly influential. He has won five Academy Awards for writing “Patton” (1970), writing “The Godfather” (1972) and writing, producing and directing “The Godfather Part II” (1974). Other films directed by Coppola have included “The Conversation,” “Apocalypse Now” and “Peggy Sue Got Married.”
25. George Strait
Strait has been one of the most popular country music artists of the past four decades and recently retired from touring. He is third only to Elvis Presley and The Beatles for the most gold and platinum albums in music history. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006.
26. Patti LuPone
LuPone has had a career in film and television but is best known for her work on Broadway. She is a two-time Tony Award winner for “Evita” (1980) and “Gypsy” (2008). Her other nominations were for “The Robber Bridegroom,” “Anything Goes,” “Sweeney Todd,” “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” “and “War Paint.”
27. Billy Crystal
Crystal is a comedian and actor equally known for his work on television and in film. Top movies have included “When Harry Met Sally,” “City Slickers” and “Monsters, Inc.” He has hosted the Academy Awards ceremony nine times beginning in 1990. He is a six-time Emmy winner, a Tony winner (“700 Sundays”) and the recipient of the 2007 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
28. Glenn Close
The film career of Close got off to a blazing hot start with five Oscar nominations in the 1980s alone (“The World According to Garp,” “The Big Chill,” “The Natural,” “Fatal Attraction,” “Dangerous Liaisons”) with a sixth in 2011 for “Albert Nobbs.” She is a three-time Emmy winner for “Serving in Silence” and “Damages” plus a three-time Tony Award winner for “The Real Thing,” “Death and the Maiden” and “Sunset Boulevard.”
29. Berry Gordy
Gordy founded Motown, one of the most revolutionary music labels, in 1957. He discovered and produced music by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, The Four Tops, The Temptations, The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, The Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye and many more. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.
30. Michael Caine
Caine has starred in over 100 films, winning Oscars twice for “Hannah and Her Sisters” (1986) and “The Cider House Rules” (1999). Other nominations were for “Alfie,” “Sleuth,” “Educating Rita” and “The Quiet American.” He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000.SEEWho Needs a Tony to Reach EGOT?
Cher has enjoyed a six-decade career as a singer and actress, now holding three pieces of the EGOT (just a Tony Award short). She got her start teaming up with husband as the duo Sonny and Cher for both music and TV. She won an Oscar for “Moonstruck” (1988), a Grammy for the song “Believe” (2000) and an Emmy Award for “Cher: The Farewell Tour” (2003).
32. Robert Duvall
Duvall has been one of America’s top actors since the 1960s, winning an Oscar for “Tender Mercies” and two Emmys for “Broken Trail.” He has received six other Academy Award nominations for “The Godfather,” “Apocalypse Now,” “The Great Santini,” “The Apostle,” “A Civil Action” and “The Judge.”
33. Diahann Carroll
Carroll has been equally known on stage for music and acting as well as in television and film. She won a Tony Award in 1962 for “No Strings.” She received an Oscar nomination for “Claudine” and four Emmy noms for “Julia,” “Naked City,” “A Different World” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” She was inducted into the TV Academy Hall of Fame in 2011.
34. Barry Gibb
It’s a shame that Gibb would not be able to share a Kennedy Center Honor with his two brothers Robin and Maurice, who have both died. Together they were the Bee Gees, one of the most successful bands of the 1960s and 1970s. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, and Gibb was knighted in 2018 by Queen Elizabeth II. He is a six-time Grammy winner for the song “How Deep Is Your Love,” the song “Stayin’ Alive,” the album “Saturday Night Fever” (twice), the song “Guilty” as Producer of the Year.
35. Sally Field
Field is a two-time Oscar winning actress for “Norma Rae” (1979) and “Places in the Heart” (1984). She also had another nomination for “Lincoln” (2012). She has won three Emmys for “Sybil” (1977), “E.R.” (2001) and “Brothers and Sisters” (2007). Other films have included “Smokey and the Bandit,” “Absence of Malice,” “Murphy’s Romance,” “Steel Magnolias,” “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Forrest Gump.”
36. Kenny Rogers
Rogers is the biggest crossover star from the country music world to pop music of anybody in history. He has charted over 120 hit singles across all genres and sold over 100 million records. He is a three-time Grammy winner for “Lucille,” “The Gambler” and “Make No Mistake She’s Mine” and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013.
37. Pinchas Zukerman
Zukerman was born in Israel but has worked most of his career in America as a violinist and conductor. Working under the guidance of the legendary Leonard Bernstein, he has gone on the record over 100 releases. He founded the National Arts Centre Young Artists Programme in 1999.
38. Bonnie Raitt
Raitt might be the most famous female rocker and blues guitarist in music history. She is a 10-time Grammy winner for such singles as “Something to Talk About,” “Love Sneakin’ Up On You” and “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” She has also been an activist for environmental issues and preserving music history and celebrating its founders. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.
39. David Mamet
Mamet is a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright who received Tony nominations for “Glengarry Glen Ross” (1984) and “Speed-the-Plow” (1988). He is also an Oscar nominee for his screenplays of “The Verdict” (1982) and “Wag the Dog” (1997). Other films have included “About Last Night,” “The Untouchables,” “House of Games” and “American Buffalo” (based on his play).
40. Ron Howard
Howard has been in show business for over 60 years, first as one of America’s finest child and teen actors and later as an in-demand director and producer. He is best known as an actor for “The Andy Griffith Show,” “Happy Days” and “American Graffiti.” He won two Oscars for “A Beautiful Mind” plus had such other top movies as “Splash,” “Cocoon,” “Parenthood,” “Apollo 13” and “Frost/Nixon.” He was inducted into the TV Academy Hall of Fame in 2013.SEEOscar Best Director Gallery: Every Winner In Academy Award History
Ann-Margret began her career as an actress, singer and dancer in 1961. Top film roles have included “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Viva Las Vegas” and her Oscar-nominated performances in “Carnal Knowledge” and “Tommy.” She won a 2010 Emmy for “Law and Order: SVU.”
42. Tony Kushner
Kushner is an American playwright who won a Pulitzer Prize, Tony Award and Emmy for “Angels in America.” He received Oscar nominations for his screenplays of “Munich” and “Lincoln.” He also wrote the book for the acclaimed musical “Caroline, or Change?”
43. Dionne Warwick
Warwick ranks only behind Aretha Franklin with the most charting hit songs for female vocalists (56). She has won Grammys for the songs “Do You Know the Way to San Jose,” “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” “I’ll Never Love This Way Again,” “Deja Vu” and “That’s What Friends Are For.” Other nominations were for “Walk on By,” “Alfie,” “I Say a Little Prayer,” “This Girl’s in Love with You” and “Then Came You.”
44. Michael Douglas
In addition to Jane Fonda mentioned earlier, Douglas could have the unique opportunity to follow up his father Kirk Douglas as an honoree. He won an Oscar for Best Picture of 1975 with “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” but is primarily known as an actor with an Oscar for “Wall Street” (1987) and an Emmy for “Behind the Candelabra” (2013). Other major film role have included “The China Syndrome,” “Romancing the Stone,” “Fatal Attraction,” “The American President,” “Traffic” and “Wonder Boys.” He received the American Film Institute life achievement award in 2009.
45. Bernadette Peters
Peters is one of the most acclaimed Broadway stars of the past five decades. She has two Tony Award wins for “Song and Dance” and “Annie Get Your Gun” plus nominations for “On the Town,” “Mack and Mabel,” “Sunday in the Park with George,” “The Goodbye Girl” an “Gypsy.” She is a three-time Grammy nominee and two-time Emmy nominee.
46. Vince Gill
Gill began his career in the 1970s as part of the Pure Prairie League but jumped into a highly successful solo country music career in 1983. Selling more than 26 million albums, he has won 21 Grammy Awards, more than any other male solo country artist. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007.
47. Joan Baez
Baez is a trailblazing folk singer and songwriter equally known for her musical career as her social activism. She started her career over 60 years ago by recording covers of Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seger, Paul Simon and more. She is an eight-time Grammy nominee who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017.
48. Jeff Bridges
Bridges was born into an acting family with father Lloyd and brother Beau leading the way. He has mainly focused his career in film with an Oscar win for the 2009 movie “Crazy Heart” and six other nominations for “The Last Picture Show,” “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot,” “Starman,” “The Contender,” “True Grit” and “Hell or High Water.”
49. Phil Collins
Collins already had a top-level career in the 1970s with the band Genesis when he decided to simultaneously go on his own as a solo artist. With all of his work combined, he had more Top 40 singles domestically in the 1980s during the 1980s. He is an Oscar winner for the 2000 movie “Tarzan” and an eight-time Grammy winner for “Against All Odds,” “No Jacket Required,” “The Prince’s Trust All-Star Rock Concert,” “Two Hearts,” “Another Day in Paradise,” “Tarzan” and as Producer of the Year. Genesis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.
50. Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac would be only the fourth group honored by the Kennedy Center after The Who, Led Zeppelin and The Eagles. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. The most widely known members are Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Christine McVie, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.