Brooks, De Niro, Springsteen and More Among 2009 Kennedy Center Honorees

News   Brooks, De Niro, Springsteen and More Among 2009 Kennedy Center Honorees
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced Sept. 9 the five individuals who will receive the Kennedy Center Honors of 2009.
Mel Brooks
Mel Brooks Photo by Paul Kolnik

Recipients of the 32nd Annual Kennedy Center Honors include writer, composer, actor, director and producer Mel Brooks; pianist and composer Dave Brubeck; opera singer Grace Bumbry; actor, director, and producer Robert De Niro; and singer and songwriter Bruce Springsteen.

The Kennedy Center Honors medallions will be presented Dec. 5, the night before the gala, at a State Department dinner hosted by Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

The Kennedy Center Honors Gala — featuring an array of entertainment — will take place Dec. 6 and will be broadcast nationwide on CBS Dec. 29 at 9 PM ET.

In a statement Kennedy Center chairman Stephen A. Schwarzman said, "This year, the Kennedy Center celebrates five extraordinary individuals whose unique and abundant artistry has contributed significantly to the cultural life of our nation and the world. With his hilarious movies and musicals, Mel Brooks has created comedic gems that will keep us laughing for years to come. Dave Brubeck's genius has dazzled us for six decades and has helped to define an American art form. Grace Bumbry helped to break the color barrier on her way to one of the most illustrious operatic careers in the 20th century. One of America's greatest cinematic actors, Robert De Niro has demonstrated a legendary commitment to his characters and has co-founded one of the world’s major film festivals. With his gritty and honest songs that speak to the everyman, Bruce Springsteen has always had his finger on the pulse of America."

A noted comedian, writer, producer, director, composer and actor, Mel Brooks won an Academy Award for the original story and screenplay of the 1968 version of "The Producers." He also earned nominations for the adapted screenplay of "Young Frankenstein," with Gene Wilder, and for the lyrics to the title song from "Blazing Saddles." "The Critic," for which Brooks provided the narration, won an Oscar for Cartoon Short Subject in 1963. Brooks won Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Original Score and Best Book of a Musical (with Thomas Meehan) for The Producers. Brooks' Young Frankenstein also received three Tony nominations. Brooks is one of only 12 individuals to have won all four major show business awards – the Oscar, Emmy, Grammy and Tony. Robert De Niro received a Theatre World Award for his Broadway debut in Cuba & His Teddy Bear. The film actor won Academy Awards for his performances in "Raging Bull" and "The Godfather: Part II."

Last year's honorees included stage and screen star Morgan Freeman; singer George Jones; Academy Award-winning actress, director and singer Barbra Streisand; Tony-winning choreographer Twyla Tharp; and "The Who" musicians Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey.

For more information about the Kennedy Center Honorees or the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, visit

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