Behind-the-Scenes Kennedy Center Honorees

by yrnej | created - 24 Dec 2017 | updated - 25 Dec 2017 | Public

The Kennedy Center Honors is an annual honor given to those in the performing arts for their lifetime of contributions to American culture (although recipients do not need to be U.S. citizens). Each year five new artists are honored. While most inductees are musicians, dancers or actors, directors, writers, choreographers and other "behind-the-scenes" artists are also honored.

The ceremony is televised, with the show this year airing on December 26, and the honorees are dancer Carmen de Lavallade, musicians Gloria Estefan, LL Cool J and Lionel Richie and TV producer/writer Norman Lear.

Which of these past honorees from behind the scenes do you think was most deserving?

Discuss the list here

1. George Abbott

Writer | The Pajama Game

Legendary Broadway writer/producer/director George Abbott was born in 1887 in Forestville, New York. His father was mayor of Salamanca, New York, for two terms. In 1898 his family moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Abbott attended Kearney Military Academy. The family returned to New York, where Abbott...

Writer/Director

2. Richard Rodgers

Soundtrack | The Talented Mr. Ripley

Richard Rodgers was born on June 28, 1902 in New York City, New York, USA as Richard Charles Rodgers. He was married to Dorothy Rodgers. He died on December 30, 1979 in New York City.

Composer

3. Billy Wilder

Writer | The Apartment

Originally planning to become a lawyer, Billy Wilder abandoned that career in favor of working as a reporter for a Viennese newspaper, using this experience to move to Berlin, where he worked for the city's largest tabloid. He broke into films as a screenwriter in 1929 and wrote scripts for many ...

Writer/Director

4. Elia Kazan

Director | On the Waterfront

Known for his creative stage direction, Elia Kazan was born Elias Kazantzoglou on September 7, 1909 in Constantinople, Ottoman Empire (now Istanbul, Turkey). Noted for drawing out the best dramatic performances from his actors, he directed 21 actors to Oscar nominations, resulting in nine wins. He ...

Writer/Director

5. Roger L. Stevens

West Side Story

Roger L. Stevens was born on March 11, 1910. He is known for his work on West Side Story (1961), Deathtrap (1982) and Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson (1976). He died on February 3, 1998.

Producer

6. Tennessee Williams

Writer | A Streetcar Named Desire

Tennessee Williams met long-term partner Frank Merlo in the summer of 1948 (Merlo died of lung cancer in the fall of 1963). Though separated briefly in 1961 and again in 1962, the two were partners for 15 years. Merlo acted as his personal manager/secretary.

Williams spent much of his most prolific ...

Playwright

7. Morton Gould

Composer | Holocaust

Composer ("American Salute", "Pavanne"), conductor, pianist and arranger, educated at New York University and a music student of Abby Whiteside and Vincent Jones. At six, he had his first composition published ("Just Six"), and thereafter concertized until age 17. He was a staff arranger for Radio ...

Composer

8. Arthur Miller

Writer | The Crucible

Arthur Asher Miller was born on October 17, 1915, in New York City, to Augusta (Barnett) and Isidore Miller. His family was of Austrian Jewish descent. His father manufactured women's coats, but his business was devastated by the Depression, seeding his son's disillusionment with the American Dream...

Playwright

9. Leonard Bernstein

Soundtrack | New York Philharmonic Young People's Concerts

Renowned composer ("West Side Story", "Candide", "On The Town"), conductor, arranger, pianist, educator, author, TV/radio host, educated at the Boston Latin School and Harvard University (BA) with Walter Piston. Edward Burlingame Hill and A. Tillman Merritt. He studied piano with Helen Coates, ...

Composer

10. Jerome Robbins

Writer | West Side Story

Jerome Robbins was born on October 11, 1918 in New York City, New York, USA as Jerome Rabinowitz. He is known for his work on West Side Story (1961), Fiddler on the Roof (1971) and Producers' Showcase (1954). He died on July 29, 1998 in New York City.

Choreographer

11. Norman Lear

Writer | All in the Family

Norman Lear is a World War II veteran, actor, writer, producer, director, and creator of such legendary sitcoms like All In The Family, Good Times, Sanford And Son, The Jeffersons, Maude, and many other sitcoms that defined and revolutionized American television.

Norman Milton Lear was born in New ...

Writer/Producer

12. Neil Simon

Writer | The Odd Couple

Neil Simon was born on July 4, 1927 in The Bronx, New York City, New York, USA as Marvin Neil Simon. He was a writer and producer, known for The Odd Couple (1968), Murder by Death (1976) and The Goodbye Girl (1977). He was married to Elaine Joyce, Diane Lander, Marsha Mason and Joan Baim. He died ...

Playwright

13. Edward Albee

Writer | A Delicate Balance

Edward Albee was born on March 12, 1928 in Washington, District of Columbia, USA as Edward Franklin Albee III. He was a writer, known for A Delicate Balance (1973), National Theatre Live: Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (2017) and Nijinsky: Unfinished Project (1970). He died on ...

Playwright

14. Stephen Sondheim

Soundtrack | Dick Tracy

Sondheim's work as a composer-lyricist over the past four decades has set the standard for modern American musical theater. He has won a record seven Tony Awards for his songwriting, and received a Pulitzer Prize for Sunday in the Park with George. Sondheim was an unpaid and uncredited clapper boy ...

Composer

15. Alvin Ailey

The Turning Point

Ailey was born in the rural town of Rogers, Texas, USA. His childhood memories and experiences often informed his choreography; the most notable of his works was "Blues Suite", "Cry" (choreographed for Judith Jamison), and "Revelations", a ballet based on Ailey's observations and experiences in ...

Choreographer

16. Twyla Tharp

Hair

Twyla Tharp was born on July 1, 1941 in Portland, Indiana, USA. She is known for her work on Hair (1979), Amadeus (1984) and Great Performances: Dance in America (1976).

Choreographer

17. Martin Scorsese

Director | Taxi Driver

Martin Charles Scorsese was born on November 17, 1942 in Queens, New York City, to Catherine Scorsese (née Cappa) and Charles Scorsese, who both worked in Manhattan's garment district, and whose families both came from Palermo, Sicily. He was raised in the neighborhood of Little Italy, which later ...

Writer/Director/Producer

18. George Lucas

Writer | Star Wars

George Walton Lucas, Jr. was raised on a walnut ranch in Modesto, California. His father was a stationery store owner and he had three siblings. During his late teen years, he went to Thomas Downey High School and was very much interested in drag racing. He planned to become a professional racecar ...

Writer/Director/Producer

19. Steven Spielberg

Producer | Schindler's List

One of the most influential personalities in the history of cinema, Steven Spielberg is Hollywood's best known director and one of the wealthiest filmmakers in the world. He has an extraordinary number of commercially successful and critically acclaimed credits to his name, either as a director, ...

Writer/Director/Producer

20. Andrew Lloyd Webber

Soundtrack | The Phantom of the Opera

Andrew Lloyd Webber is arguably the most successful composer of our time. He is best known for stage and film adaptations of his musicals Jesus Christ Superstar (1973), Cats (1994), Evita (1996), and The Phantom of the Opera (2004).

He was born on March 22, 1948, in South Kensington in London, ...

Composer

21. Bill T. Jones

Director | Still Here

Bill T. Jones was born on February 15, 1952 in Bunnell, Florida, USA as William Tass Jones. He is known for his work on Still/Here (1996), National Theatre Live: Fela! (2011) and Flannery.

Choreographer

22. Virgil Thomson

Composer | Louisiana Story

One of the driving forces, both as critic and musician, of 20th century American music, Thomson studied music at both Harvard University and elsewhere in the Boston area before moving to Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger in 1921. After spending a short time in his native land, he returned to ...

Composer

23. Aaron Copland

Soundtrack | He Got Game

Aaron Copland is an Academy Award-winning composer (The Heiress (1949)), author, conductor, lecturer and educator. He was educated at public schools and was a music student of his sister and later Leopold Wolfson, Victor Wittgenstein, Clarence Adler, Rubin Goldmark and Nadia Boulanger. In 1925, he ...

Composer

24. George Balanchine

Actor | Playhouse 90

George Balanchine was a Georgian-American ballet dancer and one of the foremost choreographers of the 20th century. Regarded as the founder of American ballet, he established and led the New York City Ballet for over three decades.

Balanchine was born Georgi Balanchivadze into the family of Meliton ...

Choreographer

25. Jule Styne

Soundtrack | Funny Girl

Jule Styne was born on December 31, 1905 in London, England as Julius Kerwin Stein. He was married to Margaret Ann Bissett Brown and Ethel Rubenstein. He died on September 20, 1994 in New York City, New York, USA.

Composer

26. Antony Tudor

In a Monastery Garden

Antony Tudor was born on April 4, 1908 in London, England as William Cook. He is known for his work on In a Monastery Garden (1932), The Tempest/II (1939) and Folio (1955). He died on April 19, 1987 in New York City, New York, USA.

Choreographer

27. William Schuman

Composer | Omnibus

William Schuman was born on August 4, 1910 in New York City, New York, USA as William Howard Schuman. He was a composer, known for Omnibus (1952), Night Journey (1960) and Eye on New York (1956). He died on February 15, 1992 in Manhattan, New York.

Composer

28. Alwin Nikolais

Composer | Zelt

Alwin Nikolais was born on November 25, 1910 in Southington, Connecticut, USA. He is known for his work on Zelt (1969), The Company (2003) and Totem (1963). He died on May 8, 1993 in New York City, New York, USA.

Choreographer

29. Gian Carlo Menotti

Writer | The Medium

Gian Carlo Menotti was born on July 7, 1911 in Cadegliano-Viconago, Lombardy, Italy. He was a writer and composer, known for The Medium (1951), Great Performances (1971) and NBC Television Opera Theatre (1950). He was married to Samuel Barber. He died on February 1, 2007 in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

Composer

30. Betty Comden

Soundtrack | On the Town

Songwriter ("New York, New York", "Lonely Town", "The Party's Over", "Just in Time"), author and actress. educated at New York University with a Bachelor of Science degree. While a student, she acted with the Washington Square Players. She was a member of the Revuers, a night club act which also ...

and Adolph Green - Playwrights

31. Alan Jay Lerner

Writer | An American in Paris

Playwright/lyricist Alan Jay Lerner was born into a wealthy New York City retailing family. His professional association with Frederick Loewe started in 1942 when they teamed up to write "Life of the Party". Their first Broadway success was the 1947 musical fantasy "Brigadoon." Lerner adapted work ...

and Frederick Loewe - Composers

32. Harold Prince

West Side Story

Harold Prince was born on January 30, 1928 in New York City, New York, USA as Harold Smith Prince. He is known for his work on West Side Story (1961), The Phantom of the Opera (2004) and Cabaret (1972). He has been married to Judith Chaplin since October 26, 1962. They have two children.

Producer/Director

33. Fred Ebb

Soundtrack | Chicago

Fred Ebb was born on April 8, 1928 in New York City, New York, USA. He died on September 11, 2004 in New York City.

and John Kander - Lyricist and Composer

34. Paul Taylor

Great Performances: Dance in America

Paul Taylor was born on July 29, 1930 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA as Paul Belville Taylor Jr. He is known for his work on Great Performances: Dance in America (1976), The Wrecker's Ball: Three Dances by Paul Taylor (1996) and American Ballet Theatre in San Francisco (1985). He died on August ...

Choreographer

35. Jerry Herman

Soundtrack | Mystery Men

Grammy award-winning songwriter ("Hello Dolly!" [1965]), composer and author, educated at the University of Miami (Bachelor of Arts) and the Parsons School of Design. His stage scores include "I Feel Wonderful" and "Parade" (off-Broadway), "Night Cap" (for night clubs), and "Milk and Honey", "Mame"...

Composer



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