The seventeenth annual special presentation of Kennedy Center honors held in Washington, D.C. Recipients of this year's honors are soul singer Aretha Franklin, actor Kirk Douglas, theater producer and director Harold "Hal" Prince, composer Morton Gould, and folk musician Pete Seeger.

Host Walter Cronkite offers opening remarks and introduces a pre-recorded segment in which President Bill Clinton, currently out of the country on official business, welcomes the honorees at the White House. Dancer Arthur Mitchell then introduces a series of clips highlighting Franklin's life, starting with her early days as a church soloist alongside her father, singer C.L. Franklin, and describing how she found her own unique and powerful sound after record executives attempted to "bleach out" her voice to appeal to white audiences. Known as "The Queen of Soul," Franklin has released over fifty albums and received fifteen Grammy Awards. The Four Tops sing "Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch" and "I Believe in You and Me," and Cronkite introduces the New Bethel Baptist Church Choir from Franklin's hometown of Detroit, who performs "Ain't No Way" along with singer Patti LaBelle.

Next, actress Lauren Bacall salutes Douglas, noting that he is "beautiful at being bad" in his many rascally roles; a clip reel highlights his birth – as Issur Danielovitch – to Russian-Jewish immigrants and his journey to Broadway and Hollywood, where he began landing roles in films like "Champion" (1949), "Paths of Glory" (1957), and "Spartacus" (1960). Actors Alan Alda, Ron Silver and Tom Skeritt read excerpts from Douglas' 1988 autobiography, "The Ragman's Son," and Douglas' actor son Michael takes the stage to honor his father and introduce the Chevy Chase Elementary School chorus, who performs a traditional Yiddish lullaby, "Rozhinkes Mit Mandlen," with flautist Paula Robison.

Actress Jane Alexander honors Prince, who has received 19 Tony Awards for his work, starting with "The Pajama Game" and "Damn Yankees" and peaking with the 1966 Broadway production of "Cabaret." After a brief downturn in his career, Prince again achieved success with his direction of 1988's "The Phantom of the Opera," later to become the longest-running show in Broadway history, and his 1994 revival of "Show Boat." Cronkite notes that he is the first-ever director to have three shows running simultaneously on Broadway; actors Davis Gaines and Tracy Shayne take the stage to perform "The Music of the Night" from "Phantom." Chita Rivera performs "Where You Are" from "Kiss of the Spider Woman," and Michel Warren Bell sings "Ol' Man River" from "Show Boat." Finally, all of the performers gather for a version of "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" from "Show Boat," with the lyrics tweaked in Prince's honor.

Next, Kennedy Center chairman James D. Wolfensohn offers remarks about the organization's aims, and the original British cast of "Stomp" takes the stage to perform one of their signature percussive numbers. Actor Tony Randall introduces a clip reel honoring Morton, a piano prodigy and composer from an early age who found musical work even throughout the Great Depression and was soon revered by performers and arrangers worldwide. André Previn introduces the United States Army Band, conducted by Colonel L. Bryan Shelburne Jr., and they perform Gould's "American Salute."

Finally, author and radio personality Garrison Keillor discusses Seeger and his "sturdy Yankee ideals," introducing a series of clips detailing Seeger's early musical interest and his departure from Harvard College in 1938, his troubles during the era of McCarthyism and refusal to "name names," and his ongoing commitment to political causes and social activism. Arlo Guthrie takes the stage and performs "Goodnight, Irene" and "If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)", joined by Seeger's grandson Tao Rodríguez-Seeger. Roger McGuinn of The Byrds performs Seeger's "Turn! Turn! Turn!", and Joan Baez sings "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" Guthrie, Rodríguez-Seeger and McGuinn perform "This Land is Your Land," and after final comments from Cronkite, all the performers sing "America the Beautiful," led by Bell. Commercials deleted.


  • DATE: 9:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 01:40:12
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: 100523
  • GENRE: Specials
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Actors and actresses
  • SERIES RUN: CBS - TV, 1994


  • Don Mischer … Producer
  • George Stevens Jr. … Producer, Created by, Writer
  • Sara Lukinson … Producer, Writer
  • Michael B. Seligman … Associate Producer
  • Bonnie Sehenuk Fitzgerald … Co-Producer
  • Louis J. Horvitz … Director
  • Nick Vanoff … Created by
  • Bob Shrum … Writer
  • John Frook … Writer
  • Ray Charles … Music by
  • Walter Cronkite … Host
  • Arthur Mitchell … Guest
  • Lauren Bacall … Guest
  • Alan Alda … Guest
  • Tom Skeritt … Guest
  • Ron Silver … Guest
  • Michael Douglas … Guest
  • Jane Alexander … Guest
  • James D. Wolfensohn … Guest
  • Tony Randall … Guest
  • André Previn … Guest
  • Garrison Keillor … Guest
  • L. Bryan Shelburne Jr. … Guest, Conductor
  • United States Army Band, The … Guest, Symphony Orchestra
  • New Bethel Baptist Church Choir … Guest, Choir
  • Chevy Chase Elementary School Chorus … Guest, Chorus
  • Four Tops, The … Guest, Music Group
  • Patti LaBelle … Guest, Singer
  • Davis Gaines … Guest, Singer
  • Tracy Shayne … Guest, Singer
  • Michel Warren Bell … Guest, Singer
  • Chita Rivera … Guest, Singer, Dancer
  • Arlo Guthrie … Guest, Singer, Instrumentalist
  • Tao Rodríguez-Seeger … Guest, Singer, Instrumentalist
  • Roger McGuinn … Guest, Singer, Instrumentalist
  • Joan Baez … Guest, Singer, Instrumentalist
  • Paula Robison … Guest, Instrumentalist
  • Aretha Franklin … Honoree
  • Kirk Douglas … Honoree
  • Harold Prince (see also: Hal Prince) … Honoree
  • Morton Gould … Honoree
  • Pete Seeger … Honoree
  • Byrds, The
  • Clarence LaVaughn Franklin (see also: C.L. Franklin)