The 32nd Annual Kennedy Center Honors, which took place on Dec. 6th, were broadcast on CBS Tuesday night. This year’s honorees were singer/songwriter Bruce Springsteen, jazz pianist Dave Brubeck, opera singer Grace Bumbry, actor Robert DeNiro, and dirctor Mel Brooks.
Ben Stiller, Edward Norton, Martin Scorcese, Meryl Streep, and Sharon Stone gave tributes for Robert DeNiro; Honoring Grace Bumbry was Aretha Franklin and fellow opera singer Simon Estes.
David Brubeck, whose 89th birthday happened to be the same night of the ceremony, was honored by Herbie Hancock, followed by a performance of Brubeck’s legendary hits presented by four of his sons.
Frank Langella, Jack Black, and Harry Connick, Jr. paid tribute to Mel Brooks with a medley of songs from some of his Broadway musicals and movies.
Jon Stewart wrapped up the evening when he and Vietnam vet / “Born on the Fourth of July” author Ron Kovic honored Bruce Springsteen, followed by a musical tribute performed by Eddie Vedder, John Mellencamp, Melissa Etheridge and Sting.
The Kennedy Center Honors is an annual honor given to those in the performing arts for their lifetime of contributions to American culture. The Honors have been presented annually since 1978 in Washington, D.C., during gala weekend-long events which culminate in a performance for—and honoring—the Honorees at the Kennedy Center Opera House.
The Honors were created by George Stevens, Jr. and the late Nick Vanoff; as of 2009, Stevens remains involved as producer and co-writer for the Honors Gala. From 1978 until 2002, the ceremony was hosted by Walter Cronkite; since 2003, it has been hosted by Caroline Kennedy.