Hey, Kennedy Center: Time to honor Dick Van Dyke, Harrison Ford, Herbie Hancock

The Kennedy Center Honors is one of the highlights of my television viewing each year. Having followed the ceremony since the very beginning in 1978, I love that it is a true celebration of the arts. CBS should be commended for devoting two hours annually to celebrate such a wide variety of artists, well-known or not.

Who would be my personal picks for this year’s honorees which will be announced sometime after Labor Day?

Below, my top three choices per genre based on age and impact, starting with the most over-looked group – TV stars. (See the roster of those still waiting to be honored in the photo gallery at the bottom of this post.)


Mary Tyler Moore – Actress in “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” and “Ordinary People”; seven-time Emmy winner; Oscar nominee; co-founder of MTM Productions; member of the TV Hall of Fame.

Bob Newhart – Actor and comedian in “The Bob Newhart Show” and “Newhart”; seven-time Emmy nominee; three-time Grammy winner; Mark Twain Prize for Comedy from the Kennedy Center; member of the TV Hall of Fame.

Dick Van Dyke – Actor and comedian in “Bye Bye Birdie,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “Diagnois: Murder,” and “Mary Poppins”; four-time Emmy winner; Tony winner; Grammy winner; member of the TV Hall of Fame.


Michael Caine – Actor in “Alfie,” “The Cider House Rules,” “The Dark Knight,” “Educating Rita,” “Hannah and Her Sisters,” and “Sleuth”; two-time Oscar winner.

Harrison Ford – Actor in “Air Force One,” “42,” “The Fugitive,” “Patriot Games,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Star Wars,” “Witness”, and “Working Girl”; Oscar nominee.

Gene Hackman – Actor in “Bonnie and Clyde,” “The Conversation,” “The French Connection,” “Hoosiers,” “Mississippi Burning,” “The Poseidon Adventure,” “Superman,” and “Unforgiven”; two-time Oscar winner.


Sally Field – Actress in “Absence of Malice,” “Forrest Gump,” “Lincoln,” “Norma Rae,” “Places in the Heart,” “Smokey and the Bandit,” and “Steel Magnolias”; two-time Oscar winner; three-time Emmy winner.

Shirley MacLaine – Actress in “The Apartment,” “Being There,” “Irma la Douce,” “Postcards from the Edge,” “Steel Magnolias,” “Sweet Charity,” and “Terms of Endearment”; Oscar winner; Emmy winner.

Maggie Smith – Actress in “California Suite,” “Gosford Park,” “Harry Potter,” “Othello,” “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,” “A Room with a View” and “Sister Act”; two-time Oscar winner; three-time Emmy winner; Tony winner.


Eric Clapton – Solo artist and member of Cream and The Yardbirds; one of the greatest rock guitarists; three-time inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; 17-time Grammy winner.

Herbie Hancock – Pianist, bandleader, and composer; redefined role of rock and jazz fusion; Oscar winner; 14-time Grammy winner.

Billy Joel – Sixth best selling recording artist of all time; Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member; five-time Grammy winner.


Carole King – Top songwriter and popular singer with 25 solo albums; Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member; four-time Grammy winner.

Gladys Knight – Known as the “Empress of Soul”; Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member; seven-time Grammy winner.

Liza Minnelli – Singer and star in film, television, and stage; two-time Tony winner; Oscar winner; Emmy winner; Grammy living legend recipient.


Cynthia Gregory – Prima ballerina since 1967.

Garrison Keillor – Humorist, storyteller, and radio star; host and star of “A Prairie Home Companion” since 1974.

Bernadette Peters – One of the most critically aclaimed Broadway stars; two-time Tony winner.

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The 2012 ceremony celebrated the careers of bluesman Buddy Guy, film actor Dustin Hoffman, rockers Led Zeppelin, talk show host David Letterman, and ballet star Natalia Makarova. The program is a strong frontrunner to win a fifth straight Emmy as Best Variety Special next month.

Use our easy drag-and-drop menu below to make your predictions for Variety Special.

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