David Letterman along with rock band Led Zeppelin receives this year’s Kennedy Center Honors.
Stars from all over the music and movie scenes gathered together on Sunday in Washington to salute the comedian and band along with Dustin Hoffman, Chicago bluesman Buddy Guy and ballerina Natalia Makarova.
The Kennedy Center Honors are the nation’s highest award for those who influenced American Culture through arts. The event was hosted by President Obama at the White House before the honorees are saluted by fellow performers in a show to be broadcasted on December 26 on CBS.
Actress Meryl Streep inroduced the honorees on Saturday during a dinner at the U.S. State Department and noted that Letterman had surpassed his mentor, Johnny Carson, in sustaining the longest late-night television career for more than 30 years. Letterman received accolade from fellow late night comedians such as Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel.
Robert Plant, Zeppelin front man, said he was flattered and overwhelmed in receiving the honor. He joked on how he was glad to see his former band mates John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page using good table manners. The group is scheduled to appear on the “Late Show with David Letterman” on Monday night.
Hoffman was honored for charting his own path after taking a junior college class in acting that “nobody ever flunks”. “He’d do anyting if it meant at night he could find himself on the stage,” Streep said about Hoffman’s dedication. Glenn Close added that he was the character actor as leading man and as an artist who insisted on setting the highest standards for himself.
Buddy Guy was saluted by former president Bill Clinton. “Buddy Guy’s life is a miracle,” said Clinton. “Just imagine you want to be a guitar player and you get your first strings by tearing off the screen door.” Guy was born into a family of sharecroppers and pioneered his way with his electric guitar.
Ballernina Makarova was honored by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who said she “risked everyting to have the freedom to dance the way she wanted to dance” when shw defected from the Soviet Union in 1970. Makarova made her debut with the American Ballet Theatre and later was the first artist exiled to return to the Soviet Union before its fall to dance with the Kirov Ballet.
The crowd of artists and entertainers gave Clinton a standing ovation as she hosted her final salute to the nation’s artists as secretary of State.