The eighth annual special presentation of Kennedy Center honors held in Washington, D.C. Recipients of this year's honors are dancer/choreographer Merce Cunningham, actress Irene Dunne (who is not present at the awards ceremony), comedian Bob Hope, songwriters Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, and opera star Beverly Sills. Presenters include Carol Burnett, Sherrill Milnes, Rex Harrison, and James Stewart. The program opens with President Ronald Reagan welcoming the recipients at a pre-performance reception. Highlights of the gala include: in the tribute to Beverly Sills, "the diva made in America," Carol Burnett recalls her collaboration with Sills on a television special; Metropolitan Opera baritone Sherrill Milnes introduces David Eisler, Elizabeth Knighton, Claudette Peterson, and Jon Garrison who perform an excerpt from the New York City Opera production of Puccini's "La Rondine"; and Burnett and Milnes sing a duet of special material. In the tribute to Broadway composers Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, host Rex Harrison reminisces about the "sophisicated audition" for "My Fair Lady," sings a brief excerpt from "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face," and narrates a montage of photos and film clips from their collaboration; then Louis Jourdan introduces a medley of Lerner and Loewe songs including "Paint Your Wagon" and "I Talk to the Trees" sung by Robert Goulet and Liz Robertson (Mrs. Alan Jay Lerner), "Almost Like Being in Love" sung by Michele Lee, "I Remember It Well" sung by Don Ameche and Maureen Stapleton, "If Ever I Would Leave You" (Goulet), "I Could Have Danced All Night" (Robertson), and "With a Little Bit of Luck" sung by Anthony Newley and the company. Next dancers Gloria and Rudolpho Vinczo, the stars of "Tango Argentino," perform a tango from the Broadway production.

In the next tribute, James Stewart mentions Irene Dunne's absence from the ceremony and narrates a tribute to the actress, featuring clips from her film work. (The Museum's tape of this program is missing a segment from this portion, including part of the clip tribute to Irene Dunne and Frederica von Stade's performance of "You Are Love" and "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.") In the segment honoring Merce Cunningham, Mikhail Baryshnikov recounts the triumphs of this "American revolutionary who turned the world of dance upside down" and narrates a biographical film profile which includes vintage dance footage; then Merce Cunningham Company members Megan Walker, Helen Barrow, Alan Good, Chris Koman, Patricia Lent, and Robert Swinston perform "Native Green" with music by John King. In the segment honoring Bob Hope, Kirk Douglas praises the comedian's unique gifts and narrates a biographical film; comedian Chevy Chase enters with a signature pratfall and jokes about Hope's influence on his work; the Armed Forces Choirs sing a medley of patriotic songs in tribute to Hope; and soldiers whom Hope had entertained over the years during various wars and in peace time offer the comedian "Thanks For the Memory." Includes commercials and a public service announcement. (A portion of the program is missing on this tape. This represents the best copy of this program currently available to the Museum.)

Cataloging of this program was made possible by The Marc Haas and Helen Hotze Haas Foundation, 1996.


  • DATE: 9:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 01:42:42
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: 100532
  • GENRE: Specials
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Award presentations
  • SERIES RUN: CBS - TV, 1985


    • Nick Vanoff … Producer
    • George Stevens … Producer, Writer
    • Michael B. Seligman … Associate Producer
    • Don Mischer … Director
    • Sara Lukinson … Writer
    • Bob Shrum … Writer
    • L. T. Igelhart … Writer
    • Giacomo Puccini … Composer
    • Ray Charles … Music by
    • Scott Bergeson … Conductor
    • William Huckaby … Choral Director
    • Walter Cronkite … Host
    • James Stewart … Host
    • Mikhail Baryshnikov … Host
    • Kirk Douglas … Host
    • Carol Burnett … Host, Performer, Singer
    • Rex Harrison … Host, Singer
    • Beverly Sills … Honoree
    • Alan Jay Lerner … Honoree
    • Frederick Loewe … Honoree
    • Irene Dunne … Honoree
    • Merce Cunningham … Honoree
    • Bob Hope … Honoree
    • Don Ameche … Singer
    • Chevy Chase … Singer
    • David Eisler … Singer
    • Jon Garrison … Singer
    • Robert Goulet … Singer
    • Elizabeth Knighton … Singer
    • Michele Lee … Singer
    • Anthony Newley … Singer
    • Claudette Peterson … Singer
    • Liz Robertson … Singer
    • Maureen Stapleton … Singer
    • Helen Barrow … Dancer
    • Alan Good … Dancer
    • Chris Koman … Dancer
    • Patricia Lent … Dancer
    • Robert Swinston … Dancer
    • Megan Walker … Dancer
    • Ronald Reagan