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AFI Life Achievement Award

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Title: AFI Life Achievement Award  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Bette Davis, List of awards and nominations received by Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese, Jane Fonda, Dustin Hoffman
Collection: American Film Institute Awards, Cinema of the United States, Lifetime Achievement Awards
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

AFI Life Achievement Award

AFI Life Achievement Award
Awarded for Honoring an individual whose career in motion pictures or television has greatly contributed to the enrichment of American culture.
Location Los Angeles
Presented by American Film Institute
First awarded 1973[1]
Official website AFI Life Achievement Award

The AFI Life Achievement Award was established by the Board of Directors of the American Film Institute on February 26, 1973 to honor a single individual for his or her lifetime contribution to enriching American culture through motion pictures and television.[2] The Recipient is selected and honored at a ceremony annually, with the award presented by a master of ceremonies and recently, the prior year's recipient, who usually gives a brief synopsis of the awarded individual and career background including highlights and achievements.

The Trustees initially specified that the recipient must be one who fundamentally advanced the art of film and whose achievements had been acknowledged by the general public as well as by film scholars and critics and the individual's peers. The Trustees also specified that the work of the recipient must have withstood the test of time.


  • History of the award 1
  • Televised Broadcast 2
  • List of recipients 3
  • Notes 4
  • External links 5

History of the award

Director John Ford was the unanimous choice of the Board of Trustees for the first award as he "clearly stands preeminent in the history of motion pictures." President Richard M. Nixon attended the gala dinner at which Ford was presented the award on March 31, 1973.[2]

The Board of Trustees later amended the "test of time" requirement to enable the AFI Life Achievement Award to be presented to individuals with active careers,[2] such as Tom Hanks, who at age 45, was the youngest recipient ever, and Steven Spielberg, who received the award at age 48. Silent film star Lillian Gish was the oldest recipient of the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award, at the age of 90.

Televised Broadcast

All Life Achievement Award ceremonies have been televised. Agreeing to appear at the televised ceremony apparently is part of the AFI's criteria for selecting the award. The televised ceremony generates income for the AFI, which is no longer funded by the Joanne Woodward, all of whom were Film Society of Lincoln Center Gala Tribute honorees, or such distinguished actors as Robert Redford, Gene Hackman and Doris Day, all of whom were recipients of The Golden Globes Hollywood Foreign Press Association's Cecil B. DeMille Award for life achievement. Of the first 43 honorees, eight have been women: Bette Davis, Lillian Gish, Barbara Stanwyck, Elizabeth Taylor, Barbra Streisand, Meryl Streep, Shirley MacLaine and Jane Fonda.

Politics also seems to be a factor in the award, as that likely was behind the notable omissions of Charles Chaplin, exiled from America during the Cold War for his left-wing sympathies, director Elia Kazan, controversial due to his testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee during the Cold War, and Charlton Heston, whose presidency of the National Rifle Association made him unpopular in many circles.

Other notable omissions were Claudette Colbert, Audrey Hepburn, Bob Hope, Paul Newman, Laurence Olivier, (all of whom are recipients of a Lincoln Center Gala Tribute), Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Marlon Brando, Marlene Dietrich, Irene Dunne, Greta Garbo, Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Stanley Kramer, Stanley Kubrick, Myrna Loy, Sidney Lumet, Ginger Rogers, Mickey Rooney, Shirley Temple, John Wayne and Robin Williams.

Several living people who appeared in or directed films in the top 10 of the AFI's 100 Years…100 Movies list have yet to receive the award including Francis Ford Coppola, Stanley Donen, Faye Dunaway, Olivia de Havilland, Diane Keaton and Debbie Reynolds. One living actress who was listed on AFI's 100 Years...100 Stars has not received the award: Sophia Loren.

List of recipients

John Ford, the first recipient of the Life Achievement Award.
1984 recipient Lillian Gish is the only star of the silent film era to win this award.
Martin Scorsese was the 25th recipient of the Life Achievement Award.
Morgan Freeman, the 39th recipient of the Life Achievement Award.
Steve Martin, the 43rd recipient of the Life Achievement Award.

The American Film Institute has awarded the AFI Life Achievement Award to one person each year since 1973. The 44th Award will be presented to John Williams on June 9, 2016, in Los Angeles. Williams will be the first composer to receive the honor. The event will be broadcast by Turner Broadcasting with an encore presentation scheduled on Turner Classic Movies later in the month.[3]

# Year Honoree Age Date of Ceremony Network Host
1 1973 John Ford 79 March 31, 1973 CBS N/A
2 1974 James Cagney 74 March 31, 1974 CBS Frank Sinatra
3 1975 Orson Welles 59 February 9, 1975 CBS Frank Sinatra
4 1976 William Wyler 73 March 9, 1976 CBS N/A
5 1977 Bette Davis 68 March 1, 1977 CBS Jane Fonda
6 1978 Henry Fonda 72 March 15, 1978 CBS N/A
7 1979 Alfred Hitchcock 79 March 7, 1979 CBS Ingrid Bergman
8 1980 James Stewart 71 March 16, 1980 CBS Henry Fonda
9 1981 Fred Astaire 81 April 10, 1981 CBS David Niven
10 1982 Frank Capra 84 March 4, 1982 CBS James Stewart
11 1983 John Huston 76 March 3, 1983 CBS Lauren Bacall
12 1984 Lillian Gish 90 March 1, 1984 CBS Fred Astaire
13 1985 Gene Kelly 72 March 7, 1985 CBS Shirley MacLaine
14 1986 Billy Wilder 79 March 6, 1986 NBC N/A
15 1987 Barbara Stanwyck 79 April 9, 1987 ABC Jane Fonda
16 1988 Jack Lemmon 63 March 10, 1988 CBS Julie Andrews
17 1989 Gregory Peck 72 March 9, 1989 NBC Audrey Hepburn
18 1990 David Lean 82 N/A ABC N/A
19 1991 Kirk Douglas 74 March 7, 1991 CBS Michael Douglas
20 1992 Sidney Poitier 65 March 12, 1992 NBC Harry Belafonte
21 1993 Elizabeth Taylor 61 March 11, 1993 ABC Carol Burnett
22 1994 Jack Nicholson 56 March 3, 1994 CBS Danny DeVito
23 1995 Steven Spielberg 48 March 2, 1995 NBC Tom Hanks
24 1996 Clint Eastwood 65 February 29, 1996 ABC Jim Carrey
25 1997 Martin Scorsese 54 February 20, 1997 CBS Gregory Peck
26 1998 Robert Wise 83 February 19, 1998 NBC Jack Lemmon
27 1999 Dustin Hoffman 61 February 18, 1999 ABC N/A
28 2000 Harrison Ford 57 February 17, 2000 CBS N/A
29 2001 Barbra Streisand 58 February 22, 2001[4] Fox Sidney Poitier
30 2002 Tom Hanks 45 June 24, 2002 USA Network Steve Martin
31 2003 Robert De Niro 59 June 12, 2003 USA Network Billy Crystal
32 2004 Meryl Streep 54 June 21, 2004 USA Network Mike Nichols
33 2005 George Lucas 60 June 9, 2005 USA Network Melissa Disney (voice)
34 2006 Sean Connery 75 June 8, 2006 USA Network Mike Myers
35 2007 Al Pacino 67 June 7, 2007 USA Network Robin Williams
36 2008 Warren Beatty 71 June 12, 2008 USA Network N/A
37 2009 Michael Douglas 64 June 11, 2009 TV Land N/A
38 2010 Mike Nichols 78 June 10, 2010 TV Land Meryl Streep
39 2011 Morgan Freeman 74 June 9, 2011 TV Land Betty White
40 2012 Shirley MacLaine 78 June 7, 2012 TV Land Meryl Streep
41 2013 Mel Brooks 86 June 15, 2013 TNT Martin Short
42 2014 Jane Fonda 76 June 13, 2014 TNT Wanda Sykes
43 2015 Steve Martin 69 June 4, 2015 TBS Mel Brooks
44 2016 John Williams 84 June 9, 2016 TCM TBD


  1. ^ "History of AFI". American Film Institute. Archived from the original on 30 April 2011. Retrieved May 5, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c "The AFI Life Achievement Awards". American Film Institute. Retrieved 2014-07-28. 
  3. ^ "John Williams Tapped for 44th AFI Life Achievement Award". Variety (in en-US). Retrieved 2015-10-08. 
  4. ^ AFI Achievement

External links

  • The AFI Life Achievement Awards official website
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