The stars aligned last night for a tribute to Shirley MacLaine, who was lauded with AFI’s 40th Life Achievement Award. Some of Hollywood’s most revered luminaries turned out to celebrate one of America’s most beloved artists, and presenting guests included her brother Warren Beatty, Dakota Fanning, Sally Field, Carrie Fisher, Morgan Freeman, Katherine Heigl, Elizabeth McGovern, Jack Nicholson, Sidney Poitier, Don Rickles, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep and John Travolta.
The evening’s festivities kicked off with MacLaine entering the gala of over 1,000 attendees to “If My Friends Could See Me Now,” a song she made famous in the 1969 screen version of “Sweet Charity.”
Immediately following dinner, Warren Beatty, MacLaine’s Academy Award®-winning brother and 2008 AFI Life Achievement Award recipient, talked about how the AFI Life Achievement Award was established in 1973 to ensure that “the great masters of film may take their deserved place in history beside leaders in other arts” and introduced the award recipients in attendance to celebrate MacLaine and the award’s 40th anniversary – Sidney Poitier (1992), Jack Nicholson (1994), Steven Spielberg (1995), Meryl Streep (2004) and Morgan Freeman (2011).
Peppered throughout the night were video tributes from Mikhail Baryshnikov, Jack Black, James L. Brooks, Stephen Hawking, Goldie Hawn, Nicole Kidman, 2010 AFI Life Achievement recipient Mike Nichols and Charlize Theron.
The 2004 AFI Life Achievement Award honoree and Academy Award®-winner Meryl Streep bestowed the prestigious award at the end of the evening to her friend, Shirley MacLaine. Streep said, “There are some performers who are indelible. You fall for them early. You fall hard. And you follow them the rest of your life. That’s our Shirl.”
Upon receiving the award, Shirley spoke first about the women at her table, Jennifer Aniston, Sally Field, Melanie Griffith, Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep, saying they were “my other half of the sky and my sustained belief that you women will make the world a better place.” She went on to say “thank you to the fabulous leading men I’ve had the pleasure of making love to, on and off the screen.” MacLaine added, “When you’re in my life, you never get away – even if you die,” and closed by saying, “My one piece of assurance to all of us who are overachievers: don’t worry, what we don’t get done now, we will the next time around – if we keep our feet firmly planted on the ground and our heads in the stars, and always listen to the mothers and women in our lives.”
Among the many other guests present to honor MacLaine were Annette, Bening, Toni Collette, Peter Fonda, Marcia Gay Harden, Dennis Haysbert, Dennis Kucinich, Deborah Secco, Tom Skerritt, Cecilia Suarez and Mena Suvari.
The gala, entitled “TV Land Presents: AFI Life Achievement Award Honoring Shirley MacLaine,” was taped at historic Stage 15 at Sony Pictures Studios and will air on TV Land on Sunday, June 24 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT.