Please listen up, Kennedy Center Honors producers and CBS! We’re now getting desperate over several vastly overlooked entertainers who need to be selected for this national life achievement award soon. The 2017 honorees should be announced soon and will be feted in early December at the 40th annual event. So here are our Top 10 recommendations plus a few more. All are at least in their late fifties (in some cases much older with opportunities dwindling fast).
1. DICK VAN DYKE
The 91-year-old actor is just an Oscar away from EGOT status. He is a five-time Emmy Award winner for “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “Van Dyke and Company,” and “The Wrong Way Kid.” He won a Tony Award for “Bye Bye Birdie” (1961) and a Grammy Award for “Mary Poppins” (1964). Van Dyke is a member of the Television Academy Hall of Fame and received the Screen Actors Guild life achievement award in 2013.
2. LIZA MINNELLI
This 71-year-old entertainer is also very close to EGOT, having never won a Grammy Award before. She won a Tony Award for “Flora the Red Menace” (1965), an Oscar for “Cabaret” (1973), and an Emmy for “Liza with a Z” (1973). The daughter of legendary entertainer Judy Garland, other films have included “The Sterile Cuckoo” (1969, her first Oscar nomination), “New York, New York” (1977), and “Arthur” (1981).
3. DENZEL WASHINGTON
At 62 years old, Washington is the only African-American with two Academy Awards for acting (“Glory,” 1989; “Training Day,” 2001). His other Oscar nominations were for “Cry Freedom” (1987), “Malcolm X” (1992), “The Hurricane” (1999), “Flight” (2012), and “Fences” (2016, producing and acting). He also won a Tony Award for the same role in “Fences” (2010).
4. GLADYS KNIGHT
This 73-year-old “Empress of Soul” started her career in 1952 on Ted Mack‘s “Original Amateur Hour” TV show. Her group Gladys Knight and the Pips joined Motown in 1966 and became one of the top recording artists of the 1960s and 1970s with such hits as “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” “If I Were Your Woman,” “Neither One of Us,” and “Midnight Train to Georgia.” The six-time Grammy winner was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
5. MICK JAGGER
Whether he gets selected by himself (like Paul McCartney) or with his group The Rolling Stones (like The Who and Led Zeppelin), this honor is long overdue. The 73-year-old lead singer was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with his band in 1989. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003. Their lengthy list of hit singles has included “Satisfaction,” “Get Off My Cloud,” “Ruby Tuesday,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Brown Sugar,” “Wild Horses,” “Angie,” and “Start Me Up.”
6. JESSICA LANGE
This 68-year-old actress is also just one notch away from EGOT. She is a two-time Academy Award winner (“Tootsie,” 1982; “Blue Sky,” 1994) among her six nominations. She is a three-time Emmy champ (“Grey Gardens,” 2009; “American Horror Story,” 2012; and “American Horror Story: Coven,” 2014) out of nine nominations. Lange won a Tony Award in 2016 for “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” Other films in her career have included “Frances,” “Sweet Dreams,” “Crimes of the Heart,” “Cape Fear,” and “Big Fish.”
7. ALAN ALDA
At 81 years old, Alda has established himself as a triple threat on television, on stage, and in films. He won five Emmy Awards for the legendary comedy series “M*A*S*H” spread out over acting, directing, and writing (the only person to prevail in only three fields). He also took home a sixth Emmy for his role on “The West Wing” and was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1994. He’s been nominated at the Oscars (“The Aviator,”), Grammys (“Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself,” 2008), and three times at the Tony Awards (“The Apple Tree,” 1967; “Jake’s Women,” 1992; “Glengarry Glen Ross,” 2005).
8. GLORIA ESTEFAN
Criticized by the Latin community in recent years for a lack of selections, Estefan would seem to be a perfect fit. The 59-year-old singer and songwriter has been one of the top crossover pop artists of the 1980s and 1990s. The seven-time Grammy winner has had such hits as “Conga,” “Bad Boy,” “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You,” “Anything for You,” “Get on Your Feet,” and “Coming Out of the Dark.” She and her husband Emilio received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.
9. HARRISON FORD
With a new version of “Blade Runner” in the fall and another “Star Wars” movie in December, 2017 would be the perfect time to honor the biggest box office star in American history. The 75-year-old hasn’t had much of an awards career but did receive an Oscar nomination for “Witness” (1985). He was awarded the American Film Institute life achievement in 2000 and the Cecil B. Demille Award at the Golden Globes in 2002. His film career has included “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Working Girl,” “Regarding Henry,” “Patriot Games,” “The Fugitive,” “Air Force One,” and “42.”
10. REBA McENTIRE
This 62-year-old country music legend has been one of the most popular singers and performers in the 1980s and beyond. She has had the most CMA Award nominations (49) and ACM Awards nominations (45) of any female artist. She has won two Grammy Awards for “Whoever’s in New England” (1987) and “Does He Love You?” (1994) among her 12 career nominations. McEntire has had a successful TV show with “Reba” (2001-2007) and was widely acclaimed for her Broadway debut in “Annie Get Your Gun” (2001).
Others who should be strongly considered for future honors:
MUSICAL ARTISTS — Burt Bacharach, Joan Baez, Garth Brooks, Cher, Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac, Barry Gibb, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Jerry Lee Lewis, Barry Manilow, Bette Midler, Bonnie Raitt, Lionel Richie, George Strait, U2
ACTORS — Jeff Bridges, Michael Caine, Billy Crystal, Michael Douglas, Robert Duvall, Gene Hackman, Eddie Murphy, Bill Murray
ACTRESSES — Glenn Close, Doris Day, Judi Dench, Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Whoopi Goldberg, Diane Keaton, Sophia Loren, Helen Mirren, Emma Thompson, Sigourney Weaver, Betty White
PERFORMING ARTS — Diahann Carroll, Carol Channing, Harvey Fierstein, Renee Fleming, Cynthia Gregory, John Guare, Garrison Keillor, Tony Kushner, Patti LuPone, David Mamet, Ann-Margret, Wynton Marsalis, Terrence McNally, Bernadette Peters, Arturo Sandoval, Tom Stoppard, Charles Strouse, Michael Tilson Thomas, Tommy Tune, Pinchas Zukerman
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