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Some Stars Have Yet to Make the 'Kennedy Center' Cut
September 13, 2012  | By Ed Bark  | 12 comments

Led Zeppelin but not The Rolling Stones?

David Letterman but not Steve Allen?

Dustin Hoffman but not Al Pacino?

Wednesday's announcement of the annual Kennedy Center honorees again raised questions of who's in and who's still out.

Besides Letterman, Led Zeppelin and Hoffman, the other medallion wearers will be blues guitarist/singer Buddy Guy and ballerina Natalia Makarova.

Inaugurated in 1978, the Kennedy Center Honors demand that you be among the living and accept this accolade in person. Which means that at least one certain inductee, Bing Crosby, died just a year too soon in 1977.

Allen is also among the deceased, so it's too late for him now. But there was ample time to honor him before his death in 2000. Letterman would be among the first to admit that many of his early bits and sight gags were directly borrowed from Allen's pioneering late night work. Johnny Carson also owes a debt to Allen; he was honored in 1993.

The Rolling Stones are quite another matter. They're still very much alive and plan to tour again after cutting a new album. But the Kennedy Center people still haven't invited them to their annual party. On the other hand, Paul McCartney, Elton John and the remaining members of The Who (Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey) are among the British recipients in recent years.

Pacino remains on the outside looking in while Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman, Sean Connery, James Earl Jones, Robert Redford, Paul Newman and Clint Eastwood are all Kennedy Center honorees. That simply doesn't compute, particularly in light of Pacino's recent work. He's won two Emmys in the last eight years for his performances in HBO's Angels In America and You Don't Know Jack. Add a total of eight Oscar nominations and one win.

Jerry Lewis also remains among the missing. As does Mickey Rooney. But Steve Martin was feted by the Kennedy Center in 2007. Has he really had more of an impact in comedy or in movies? Not to begrudge Martin, but Lewis in particular is a glaring omission. One doesn't have to like him, and there's always a chance he would make a scene. But at the televised awards ceremony (Dec. 26 on CBS), recipients simply sit on high while others pay tribute to them. So there's very little danger of the oft-volatile Lewis misbehaving on his big night. If he ever has one.

It's debatable whether Dick Clark deserved admission. But Andy Griffith certainly did. Now it's too late for both of them after their deaths this year.

Mary Tyler Moore is still hoping for an invitation after television's two other all-time queens of comedy — Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett — respectively were honored in 1986 and 2003.

James Garner? Sid Caesar? Doris Day? Dick Van Dyke? Norman Lear? Elaine Stritch? The Bee Gees? Woody Allen? Shirley MacLaine? Bob Newhart? Neil Young? James Taylor? Francis Ford Coppola? Paul Williams? Lorne Michaels? Liza Minnelli? Burt Bacharach? George Lucas? All are still vertical. None have been deemed worthy yet. And the debate goes on.

Read more by Ed Bark at unclebarky.com

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Karen Saunders
How many of the recipients from 1978 to 2018 have died? Who decides who gets to be an Honoree? Can people give names they think should be honored?
Dec 26, 2018   |  Reply
I agree artists of the quality of Dick Van Dyke Doris Day and the Bee Gees - their work defies one genre but is timeless and priceless (like Peter Paul and Mary both lyrics and music can be appreciated for generations)! How is it they have been ignored for an honor of which they are so worthy?!
Please correct these errors before it is too late-posthumous recognition would be heartbreakingly unforgivable (we already lost 3 of the Gibb brothers)!??????????
Mar 10, 2018   |  Reply
mandy stang
hello I was just sitting ere thinking why the bee gees are not in the kennedy honors. they have been singing for a long time.i think that barry was 9 and twins robin and Maurice gibb. they should be in there. I know the twins are gone now but barry is still here with us . the bee gees should be in there be for ll cool j I like him as well .but the bee gees have been singing for over 40 years. I'm just saying. thank you for you time mandy stang`
Aug 5, 2017   |  Reply
Carol Channing is certainly deserving.
Dec 27, 2016   |  Reply
robert parker
The biggest man in music- Bing Crosby should be honored although most people now don't remember bing
Jul 8, 2016   |  Reply
Steve Allen died in 200,it'll be kind of a first to give a KCH to some one who has been DEAD over 12 years(now it's 16 years).One thing,Jerry Lewis deserves a Kennedy Award.
Jun 2, 2016   |  Reply
If not Jerry Lewis,then I also will be satisfied with the Kennedy Center honoring Bob Newhart.
Jun 2, 2016
Dave Price
James Taylor defiantly deserves a Kennedy Award.
Dec 30, 2015   |  Reply
marc moran
1 agree about steve allen and so many others who have not received the kennedy honor. I couldn't beleive letterman got it last year. I just heard the selection of 2013 honorees and maclaine totally deserves it. I personally keep hoping for liza Minnelli and james taylor hopefully next year. what a stunning show that would be. Minnelli has been performing her heart out for 50 years.
Sep 12, 2013   |  Reply
Glenn Close.
Dec 28, 2012   |  Reply
The selections have baffled me for years. I suppose part of the decision is based on who will get the highest Nielson rating. There is also an issue regarding who is willing to actually show up to accept the award. My understanding is that many organizations have wanted to honor Doris Day, but she keeps turning them down because she has no desire to reenter the spotlight. We all have our lists of missing honorees. Until she died a decade ago I looked in vain every year to see the great Eileen Farrell's name on the list. I suppose there are political reasons for Joan Baez, certainly one of the most influential musicians of our time, being ignored, but if they've been able to recognize Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan I don't see any reason for excluding Joan.
Sep 14, 2012   |  Reply
Gene Hackman
Sep 13, 2012   |  Reply
Don't forget Peter, Paul and Mary (I know she died)...or The Smothers Brothers (right David!).
Sep 13, 2012   |  Reply
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