- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 23, 2000

Rock musician Chuck Berry, actor-director Clint Eastwood, actress Angela Lansbury, dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov and superstar tenor-director Placido Domingo will receive this year's Kennedy Center Honors.

In an announcement yesterday, Kennedy Center Chairman James A. Johnson described Mr. Baryshnikov, 52, as "an artist whose name is synonymous with dance at its most sublime"; Mr. Berry, 73, as a musician who "revolutionized American popular music"; and Miss Lansbury, 74, as a "beloved actress who has conquered the worlds of film, theater and television."

Mr. Domingo, he said, is "one of the greatest and most popular singers the world of opera has ever produced." Mr. Domingo, 59, also is artistic director of the Washington Opera. Yesterday, he was performing at the Bayreuth Festival in Germany, which features music by Richard Wagner.

"I'm tremendously moved since this is the highest honor in the area of culture this country can bestow," Mr. Domingo said in a statement. "It is especially thrilling for me because, through the Kennedy Center Honors voting system, it is in essence, a recognition from my peers in the music world of the work I've done here over so many years."

Mr. Johnson called Mr. Eastwood, 70, "a film icon equally brilliant in front and behind the camera."

Mr. Eastwood's representative said his client was resting up after the premiere and promotional work for "Space Cowboys," a movie in which Mr. Eastwood acted, directed and produced.

Mr. Berry also was unavailable, but his agent, Dick Alen, said, "He is happy that his career, which has helped place rock 'n' roll music into the mainstream of the world's music, is being celebrated."

Mr. Baryshnikov was more sweeping in his statement. "I am honored to accept this recognition on behalf of all the dancers and choreographers I have been working with for the past 25 years. Without them, there would have been no results," he said.

Miss Lansbury is shooting a two-hour TV movie called "The Last Free Man," in which she plays mystery writer and amateur sleuth Jessica Fletcher and her own great-great aunt. "I'm absolutely thrilled," she said of the Kennedy Center award. "I consider it a very rare and special honor. There's no guarantee of anything in life, and it's a wonderful surprise."

The 23rd annual Honors will be bestowed Dec. 2 at a dinner at the State Department. The Honors Gala is set for the next night at the Kennedy Center Opera House after a White House reception.

Some career highlights of the honorees:

• Mr. Baryshnikov, a native of Riga, Latvia, joined the Kirov Ballet and made his debut at the Maryinsky Theater in 1967. He defected from the Soviet Union in 1974 and made his debut with the American Ballet Theatre (ABT). In 1978, he left ABT for the New York City Ballet. He returned to ABT in 1980 as principal dancer and artistic director. In 1990, he joined with Mark Morris to found the White Oak Project, which reflects his passion for modern dance.

• Mr. Berry, a singer, songwriter and guitarist, blended boogie-woogie, country, swing, big band, pop and blues to become a legendary breakthrough artist in rock music. His first recording was "Maybellene," for the Chess label. In 1984, he won a Grammy for lifetime achievement and, in 1987, he was among the first artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

• Mr. Eastwood made his name as an actor as the "Man With No Name" in the Sergio Leone trilogy: "A Fistful of Dollars" (1964), "For a Few Dollars More" (1965) and "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" (1966). The film with which he has remained most closely associated, "Dirty Harry," was made in 1971. It brought four more movies with the same character, including "Sudden Impact," and the famous saying, "Go ahead, make my day." But Mr. Eastwood has varied his repertoire. His 1992 western, "Unforgiven," won four Academy awards.

• Mr. Domingo, according to the Kennedy Center, is a tenor who revitalized the Spanish zarzuela and brought a singer's dramatic instincts to his role as a conductor. He also is a director who took the Washington Opera "blazing into the new century." He has had 115 roles and made more than 100 opera recordings. He holds the world record for the longest ovation on an opera stage: 101 curtain calls and 80 minutes of applause, in Vienna, after singing "Otello" on June 30, 1991. He also is a member of the legendary "Three Tenors," with Luciano Pavarotti and Jose Carreras.

• Miss Lansbury, a native of London, has won four Tonys. She also has been inducted into the Theater and Television Halls of Fame. Her family relocated to the United States after the German blitz and she landed a seven-year contract at MGM after George Cukor cast her in "Gaslight" in 1944. Her Broadway shows have included Stephen Sondheim's "Anyone Can Whistle," "Mame" "Dear World," "Gypsy" and "Sweeney Todd." For 12 years, she played Fletcher in "Murder, She Wrote" on television.

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