Bette Midler, Lorne Michaels, Berry Gordy Named to 44th Class of Kennedy Center Honorees

The 44th class will celebrate their achievement at the Kennedy Center Opera House on Dec. 5

Bette Midler, Lorne Michaels, Berry Gordy
Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images; Trae Patton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images; Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

The 44th class of Kennedy Center honorees is here!

On Wednesday, Bette Milder, Lorne Michaels and Berry Gordy were announced as awardees for their lifetime achievements in the creative arts.

This year's class will receive the prestigious prize at the Kennedy Center Honors on Sunday, Dec. 5, each to be honored with a medallion and personalized tribute, per tradition. Opera singer Justino Diaz and folk music legend Joni Mitchell will also be honored at the event.

The 43rd Kennedy Center Honors class was delayed multiple times due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was eventually held in May at the Kennedy Center's Opera House, rather than its typical venue at the State Department in Washington, D.C.

bette midler
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Deborah Rutter, president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, said that organizers are expect to host the event at full capacity, according to the Associated Press. All attendees will be required to wear masks.

That said, Rutter added that nothing is currently set in stone.

"We know how to do it now. We will make whatever adjustments we need," she said in an interview, the AP reported. "We're going to be wearing masks right up until we don't have to."

Midler, 75, has four Golden Globe Awards, three Grammy Awards, three Primetime Emmy Awards, and two Tony Awards under her belt. She has been nominated twice for an Academy Award.

The For The Boys star said was "stunned and grateful beyond words" in a statement following the announcement: "For many years I have watched this broadcast celebrating the best talent in the performing arts that America has to offer, and I truly never imagined that I would find myself among these swans."

Barry Gordy
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Gordy, 91, is the founder of Motown Records. The Detroit-based studio helped bring to prominence some of music's biggest names from Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder to Lionel Ritchie and Marvin Gaye.

In an interview, Gordy said he has long admired President John F. Kennedy as one of the best leaders of the United States. "So to be honored in his name just means the world to me," he added, according to the AP.

lorne michaels
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Michaels, 76, became one of the cornerstones of comedy through his work on Saturday Night Live. He also had a hand in creating several popular movies and television shows including "Wayne's World," "Mean Girls" and "30 Rock."

In 2004, he received the Kennedy Center's Mark Twain Award for lifetime achievement in comedy. He called it "mostly nerve-wracking" as he anticipated his acceptance speech.

Luckily, he won't have to do so this year.

"You don't have to give a speech at the end, which is huge," Michaels said in an interview. "You're just there with your friends."

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