The eighteenth annual special presentation of Kennedy Center honors held in Washington, D.C. Recipients of this year's honors are playwright Neil Simon, dancer/choreographer Jacques d'Amboise, blues musician B.B. King, opera singer Marilyn Horne, and actor Sidney Poitier.

Host Walter Cronkite offer opening remarks, and in a pre-taped segment, President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton welcome the honorees to the White House. Steve Martin then takes the stage to honor Simon, introducing a brief series of clips highlighting his early days writing jokes for television with his brother Danny Simon, the success of his semi-autobiographical first play "Come Blow Your Horn," and his prolific subsequent career. Actors Nathan Lane, Christine Baranski and Sid Caesar take the stage to perform excerpts from "The Odd Couple," "Broadway Bound," "The Sunshine Boys" and others of Simon's work, and Baranski reads part of Simon's address to Williams College graduates. All of the guests then perform "If My Friends Could See Me Now" from "Sweet Charity."

Next, dancer Suzanne Farrell honors d'Amboise, and clips depict his early interest in dance classes alongside his two sisters, his movie career and his decision to forgo an MGM contract in order to study with renowned dancer and teacher George Ballanchine, and his work as a dance teacher. d'Amboise's son and daughter Charlotte and Christopher perform a pas de deux to "Let's Misbehave," and former students George James and Erica Chong introduce a group of children from the National Dance Institute, who perform a number to "The Other Side of My World," written by Judy Collins and sung by Judy Kuhn.

Journalist Ed Bradley honors King, and clips describe how the musician was born into poverty in Mississippi and began learning to play the guitar at age fourteen and finding his way to Memphis' famous Beale Street. After years of going largely unrecognized by mainstream audiences, a 1967 performance at San Francisco's Fillmore Auditorium catapulted him to great fame – along with his signature guitar, "Lucille." Joe Louis Walker and Dr. John take the stage to perform "Rock Me Baby" and "The Thrill is Gone," and they are joined by 12-year-old guitar prodigy Nathan Cavaleri and singer Etta James, who performs "Sweet Little Angel." Bonnie Raitt performs "Every Day I Have the Blues," joined by Joe Williams and the other musicians.

Kennedy Center Chairman of the Board James D. Wolfensohn offers comments on the event's significance, and Cronkite introduces tap dancers Saivon Glover, Jimmy Tate, Baakari Wilder and Vincent Bingham. Next, singer Frederica von Stade honors Horne, touching upon her childhood in Pennsylvania, her early work dubbings actors' singing voices in movies, her difficult three-year performing career in Europe, and her Metropolitan Opera debut alongside the legendary Joan Sutherland. Cronkite introduces singers Bruce Ford, Rodney Gilfry and Janet Williams, who perform the trio ("Zitti zitti, piano piano") from "The Barber of Seville."

Paul Newman honors his "Paris Blues" (1961) co-star Poitier highlighting his impoverished youth in the Bahamas, his journey to New York and early days at the North American Negro Theater, and his rise from understudy roles to memorable leading parts, with an emphasis on stories focusing on racial equality. Louis Gossett Jr., who co-starred with Poitier in the 1959 Broadway debut of "A Raisin in the Sun," offers his praise and then introduces a choral performance of "Amen" from "Lilies of the Field" (1963), after which James Earl Jones introduces singer Jessye Norman, who performs "Amazing Grace." Finally, Kuhn, Ford, Gilfry and Williams perform "Take Care of This House" from the musical "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue," gradually joined by the rest of the night's performers. Commercials deleted.


  • DATE: 8:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 1:33:12
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: 100524
  • GENRE: Specials
  • SUBJECT HEADING: African-American Collection
  • SERIES RUN: CBS - TV, 1995


    • Don Mischer … Producer
    • George Stevens Jr. … Producer, Created by, Writer
    • Bonnie Sehenuk Fitzgerald … Co-Producer
    • Sara Lukinson … Co-Producer, Writer
    • Michael B. Seligman … Associate Producer
    • Louis J. Horvitz … Director
    • Nick Vanoff … Created by
    • Bob Shrum … Writer
    • John Frook … Writer
    • Ray Charles … Music by
    • Elliot Lawrence … Conductor
    • Leon Pendarvis … Conductor, B.B. King Segment
    • Alan Nathan … Conductor, "The Barber of Seville"
    • Jerry Kormen … Conductor, National Dance Institute
    • Norman Scribner … Choral Director, The Choral Arts Society of Washington
    • Joyce Garrett … Choral Director, Eastern High School Choir
    • Rickey Payton Sr. … Choral Director, Sidwell Friends Choir
    • National Dance Institute, The … Dance Company
    • Walter Cronkite … Host
    • Steve Martin … Guest
    • Suzanne Farrell … Guest
    • George James … Guest
    • Erica Chong … Guest
    • Ed Bradley … Guest
    • James D. Wolfensohn … Guest
    • Frederica von Stade … Guest
    • Paul Newman … Guest
    • Louis Gossett Jr. … Guest
    • James Earl Jones … Guest
    • Nathan Lane … Guest, Performer
    • Christine Baranski … Guest, Performer
    • Sid Caesar … Guest, Performer
    • Judy Kuhn … Guest, Singer
    • Etta James … Guest, Singer
    • Joe Williams … Guest, Singer
    • Bruce Ford … Guest, Singer
    • Rodney Gilfry … Guest, Singer
    • Janet Williams … Guest, Singer
    • Jessye Norman … Guest, Singer
    • Joe Louis Walker … Guest, Singer, Instrumentalist
    • Dr. John (see also: Malcolm John Rebennack) … Guest, Singer, Instrumentalist
    • Bonnie Raitt … Guest, Singer, Instrumentalist
    • Charlotte d'Amboise … Guest, Dancer
    • Christopher d'Amboise … Guest, Dancer
    • Savion Glover … Guest, Dancer
    • Jimmy Tate … Guest, Dancer
    • Baakari Wilder … Guest, Dancer
    • Vincent Bingham … Guest, Dancer
    • Nathan Cavaleri … Guest, Instrumentalist
    • Neil Simon … Honoree
    • Jacques d'Amboise … Honoree
    • B.B. King … Honoree
    • Marilyn Horne … Honoree
    • Sidney Poitier … Honoree
    • Bill Clinton … Speaker
    • Hillary Rodham Clinton … Speaker
    • George Ballanchine
    • Judy Collins
    • Danny Simon
    • Joan Sutherland