The two-hour gala evening pays tribute to the 2004 Kennedy Center Honorees: actor Warren Beatty, husband-and-wife acting couple Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, pop and Broadway composer Elton John, opera star Dame Joan Sutherland and composer-conductor John Williams. The honorees were saluted Dec. 5 at the Kennedy Center's Opera House. President and Laura Bush were among the evening's guests.
Warren Beatty was honored with tributes from Academy Award winners Faye Dunaway and Jack Nicholson; Tony Award winners Brian Stokes Mitchell and Audra McDonald as well as recent Broadway debuter Sean Combs saluted the careers of Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee; Marilyn Horne paid tribute to fellow opera star Joan Sutherland; Steven Spielberg took part in the John Williams segment; and Elton John was honored by appearances from Billy Joel, Heather Headley, Kid Rock, Fantasia and Robert Downey, Jr.
About this year's inductees, Kennedy Center Chairman Stephen A. Schwarzman said in a statement, "This year the Kennedy Center honors not the usual five but six extraordinary individuals whose unique and abundant artistry has contributed significantly to the cultural life of our nation and the world. They are a film artist whose talents are astonishingly diverse; a greatly revered couple of stage and screen; a pop music icon who also composes stunning musical film and theater scores; an operatic superstar of unsurpassed artistic achievement; and one of the most influential American composers of the past four decades.”
Warren Beatty is the Hollywood film actor and director ("Bonnie and Clyde," "Heaven Can Wait," "Bulworth"), Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee are icons of black theatre in America, Elton John is the British pop writer who wrote scores to "The Lion King" and Aida, Joan Sutherland is the operatic superstar and composer John Williams is known for his Hollywood movie scores ("Jaws," "Star Wars," "Raiders of the Lost Ark").
Last year's Kennedy Center Honorees included television and theatre icon Carol Burnett, famed stage and film director Mike Nichols, musician James Brown, singer Loretta Lynn and violinist Itzhak Perlman. For more information about the Kennedy Center Honorees or the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, visit www.kennedy-center.org.