The Kennedy Center has announced the five performers to be feted at the upcoming 32st edition of its honors: 19-time Grammy-winning rocker Bruce Springsteen, two-time Oscar acting champ Robert De Niro, grand slam awards winner Mel Brooks, jazz musician Dave Brubeck, and opera diva Grace Bumbry
The quintet will be feted Dec. 6 at the White House before a salute to their achievements in the performing arts at the Kennedy Center. The kudoscast will air on CBS on Dec. 29. Already a four-time winner of the Emmy Award for outstanding variety special, last's year edition is a nominee this year.
The Kennedy Center Honors began in 1978, seven years after the living memorial to President Kennedy opened on the banks of the Potomac in the nation's capital. Since then, the kudos have taken on the aura of the country's highest tribute to artists.
Appropriately enough, Richard Rodgers – the first person to achieve the awards grand slam by winning all four big showbiz kudos (Oscar, Emmy, Grammy and Tony) – was among the first five artists inducted into this hall of fame. (The others were opera pioneer Marian Anderson, dancer extraordinaire Fred Astaire, choreographer George Balanchine, and pianist Arthur Rubenstein.) Since then, there have been another 158 artists honored (usually five per year but occasionally six, such as last year when a team was feted). Among them have been just two other grand slam champs -- Helen Hayes (1981) and Mike Nichols (2003).
Photo: Columbia Records