Everyone knows that Morgan Freeman is among the greatest, and now it is official. As the 39th recipient of the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award, he joins the ranks of the most-honored actors in history. The celebration took place on Thursday, June 9, in a huge soundstage on the Sony Pictures Studios lot in Culver City, Calif.
Previous honorees Sidney Poitier and Clint Eastwood led the star-studded charge to sing Freeman's praises. Eastwood presented Freeman with the coveted star-shaped AFI prize, culminating a show that included Betty White doing a song-and-dance number that brought down the house. Rita Moreno tapped out a tune, too, Garth Brooks warbled "Lean on Me," and Tim Robbins, Samuel L. Jackson and Forest Whitaker took turns extolling Freeman's illustrious career.
Pretty people were everywhere in the room, a Hollywood fantasy ballroom draped in red and gold. Look one way, there was Helen Mirren and Virginia Madsen; look another for Gisele Bundchen, Paz Vega, Fran Drescher and Kimora Lee, who had hubby Djimon Hounsou attached at her hip. Matthew McConaughey kept Camila Alves close, too, but Matthew Broderick came solo, sans wife Sarah Jessica Parker.
Plenty of Hollywood power players rounded out the glittery scene, as the party stretched on into the night. Directors Edward Zwick, Jon Avnet and Marshall Herskovitz joined studio executives Sir Howard Stringer, Alan Horn, Anne Sweeney, Amy Pascal and Bob Daly in honoring Freeman for his impressive body of work, dating all the way back to his role as Count Dracula on the 1971 children's television show "The Electric Company." He's come a long way!
The AFI Life Achievement Award ceremony will air on the cable station TV Land on June 19.