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Shirley MacLaine: Celebrating 6 Decades of Career Achievement  

The actress and author will receive Movies for Grownups' top honor at February awards show

A photo of Shirley MacLaine

Greg Gorman

En español | Shirley MacLaine will receive the 2018 AARP Movies for Grownups Career Achievement Award in February, capping a six-decade entertainment career that includes more than 50 films, six Oscar nominations, seven Golden Globe Awards and six Emmy nods.

“The award means a lot to me personally because AARP was there when I began,” says MacLaine, 84, who will be honored with the Career Achievement Award at the 18th annual Movies for Grownups Awards ceremony on Feb. 4 in Beverly Hills, Calif. The event, hosted by AARP The Magazine, also will honor 2018’s best films and filmmakers, including best actor, best actress and best director.

“We are delighted to give this award to Shirley MacLaine, a remarkable performer and a true original, who has charmed and entertained us decade after decade,” says Myrna Blyth, senior vice president and editorial director for AARP Media. MacLaine joins a prestigious list of previous AARP Movies for Grownups Career Achievement honorees, including Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, Sharon Stone, Robert Redford and Robert De Niro.


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The iconic actress, who also has written 15 international best-selling books, attributes her incredible creative longevity to the discipline of dance studies she began at age 3. At 20, a lucky break on Broadway — the lead snapped her ankle — got MacLaine out of the chorus and into the spotlight singing “Steam Heat” in The Pajama Game, which led Alfred Hitchcock to cast her in The Trouble with Harry. She fetched better reviews than Hitch did. She ran with Frank Sinatra's Rat Pack, in real life and in Ocean's 11, without getting trampled, and she went on to create widely known characters in movies such as The Apartment and Sweet Charity, who — even when downtrodden — had a kooky pixie charm that influenced actresses decades later.

Once she’d outgrown ingenues, MacLaine crafted stronger characters, most famously the gloriously self-assertive grandma Aurora Greenway in Terms of Endearment, her first Oscar win, just before her 50th birthday. Now she’s noted for characters with spines of steel, like the American matriarch who confronts Dame Maggie Smith’s Countess Crawley on Downton Abbey. When she played a headstrong woman who decides to write her own obituary ahead of time in 2017’s The Last Word, Variety raved, “Shirley MacLaine is still hip!”

The Movies for Grownups Awards will be broadcast for the second consecutive year on PBS. Coproduced by the Great Performances series, the awards premiere Friday, Feb. 15, at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), and will stream the following day on pbs.org/gperf and PBS apps.

Great Performances has long celebrated the talents of artists from numerous disciplines,” said David Horn, executive producer of Great Performances. “By showcasing the talents of the accomplished professionals both on screen and behind the scenes in the year's great movies, Great Performances and the Movies for Grownups Awards can shine a spotlight on important art and artists for public media audiences.”

Consumer Cellular is proud to be the presenting sponsor for the Movies for Grownups Awards. Event proceeds benefit AARP Foundation, which works to end senior poverty by building economic opportunity and social connections for vulnerable older adults in Los Angeles and across the country. 

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