Actor Dick Van Dyke, 95, singer Garth Brooks, 59, choreographer Debbie Allen, 71, violinist Midori Goto, 49, and singer-songwriter Joan Baez, 80, will receive the 2021 Kennedy Center Honors, the illustrious awards for artists whose lifetime achievements have made a lasting mark on American culture. The Honors have been called “the Grammys for grownups.” Hosted by past Kennedy Center honoree Gloria Estefan, 63, the show was filmed May 17–22 in Washington, D.C., with tributes to the illustrious winners and performances by violinist Yo-Yo Ma, 65, and other A-list stars not yet announced. The honorees also met with President Biden.
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Thanks to the pandemic, the ceremony was long delayed from its usual December date, and performances were before a socially distanced crowd of about 120 people. The 43rd Kennedy Center Honors airs on CBS June 6 at 8 p.m. ET. Get ready for the gala by catching up with the inductees, right here.
The indefatigable Dick Van Dyke
Van Dyke, who tap-danced on a tabletop in the 2018 Mary Poppins Returns, showed a CBS reporter his exercise routine, saying, “All you old guys out there, listen to me: you can keep going for a long [time] — I'm still dancing and singing. I'm looking forward to 100. George Burns made it, and I'm gonna do it, too!” Insiders predict that he'll be inducted by Chita Rivera, 88, who jump-started his career by letting him sing “Put On a Happy Face” when they costarred in Bye Bye Birdie in 1960.
The grateful and gracious Garth Brooks, Debbie Allen and Midori
Country singer-songwriter Brooks felt lucky to be in the Kennedy Center winner's circle, saying, “I don't mind being the weak link on the chain. I'm in the chain!” Actually, he is the number 1 best-selling solo musician in U.S. history. Allen, who has choreographed and directed for Lena Horne, Michael Jackson and Dolly Parton, said, “This glorious achievement I share with my family, mentors and students who have inspired and pushed me all the way.” Said Midori: “I am thrilled to be a recipient of one of this year's Kennedy Center Honors as we, together, reach toward renewed expression of the dreams and hopes that unify us all."
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Joan Baez's surprise gala guest
Baez brought her family to the Kennedy Center celebration, plus a surprise guest: infectious disease expert and presidential adviser Anthony Fauci, 80, who befriended her after she painted his portrait — Baez has launched a new career as a painter. Wowed by Fauci's presence, Brooks’ singer wife Trisha Yearwood, 56, said, “I almost asked him to sign my vaccination card!"
The 43rd Annual Kennedy Center Honors will be telecast June 6 on CBS at 8 p.m. ET.
Tim Appelo covers entertainment and is the film and TV critic for AARP. Previously, he was the entertainment editor at Amazon, video critic at Entertainment Weekly, and a critic and writer for The Hollywood Reporter, People, MTV, The Village Voice and LA Weekly.