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Honorees for 45th Kennedy Center gala announced

The 45th Kennedy Center honorees are (clockwise from top left) Amy Grant, George Clooney, Tania León, Gladys Knight, and U2.

Every year, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., pays tribute to a handful of arts figures. The lifetime achievement gala takes place in December, then airs at some point thereafter on CBS as “The Kennedy Center Honors.”

The next event, the 45th annual, will be held on Dec. 4 and the honorees have just been announced. They will be actor George Clooney; singer-songwriter Amy Grant; singer Gladys Knight; composer, conductor, and educator Tania León; and the rock band U2 (Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen Jr.).

Some trivia: The first honors were given in 1979, and they went to Marian Anderson, Fred Astaire, George Balanchine, Richard Rodgers, and Arthur Rubinstein. Whew. Doris Day turned down the honor, as her fear of flying would keep her from attending. The award given to Bill Cosby in 1998 was rescinded in 2018. And three married couples — Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, and Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee — have been honored together as one.


Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him @MatthewGilbert.