Rita Moreno bookAs I’ve noted over the years, I LOVE the Kennedy Center Honors. The event generally take place in DC the first weekend in December, and is broadcast on CBS-TV at the end of the month. The celebration of the honorees’ Lifetime Artistic Achievements took place on Sunday, December 6 and will be be aired on CBS on Tuesday, December 29 at 9:00 p.m., ET/PT. This year’s honorees are Carole King, George Lucas, Rita Moreno, Seiji Ozawa, and Cicely Tyson.

Rita Moreno – if she were in nothing but the movie West Side Story – a pivotal film in my life – I’d be a big fan, but she accomplished so much more and, as she indicated in this interview, had to fight the Latina actress stereotypes.

She’s won the EGOT:
OSCAR: Best Supporting Actress (1961) West Side Story (Anita del Carmen)
GRAMMY: Best Album for Children (1973) Electric Company
TONY: Best Featured Actress in a Play (1975) The Ritz
EMMY: Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program (1977) The Muppet Show; Outstanding Guest Actress – Drama Series (1978) The Rockford Files

Even though I was in college by then, I was a huge fan of The Electric Company, and she was a big reason.

WATCH:
West Side Story-America
Electric Company – STOP!
Muppet Show – Fever
Rockford Files
***
George Lucas – the writer/producer/director made a bunch of movies I enjoyed tremendously. The first was American Graffiti; a couple of the movie’s actors ended up in 1950s-based sitcoms, Ron Howard (Richie on Happy Days), and Cindy Williams (Cindy on Laverne &…) The film also featured some carpenter-actor named Harrison Ford, who later starred in Lucas’ original Star Wars trilogy, and the Indiana Jones trilogy, all of which I enjoyed (except Indy 2, which I’ve never seen).

All that hate for Star Wars 1: I didn’t enjoy it, but it was just a movie. All that nerdy nuance about the films, some brought on by Lucas himself – Han shot first! – is beyond my interest. Oh and he likes Star Wars 7.

I see Lucas’ wife, Mellody Hobson, on CBS News frequently.

WATCH:
American Graffiti (1973) – Original Trailer
Star Wars (1977) Original Trailer
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) Theatrical Trailer
READ:
The Other Side of The Other Side of Midnight
***
Cicely TysonI wrote about her at length only a couple years ago.

WATCH:
The Bold Move That Left Cicely Tyson’s First TV Director Speechless And Sparked A National Movement
The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman
Cicely Tyson on Roots, Grief and Strength
The Marva Collins Story (1981)
***
Seiji Ozawa – Though he had been the conductor for the San Francisco Symphony early in his career, I know him best from him leading the Boston Symphony. I’d see him on TV fairly often, and as he got older I recognized him as much for his style, and his coif as anything.

WATCH:
What’s My Line? – Seiji Ozawa (1963, TV Show)
Tchaikovsky Overture 1812
Beethoven Symphony No 5
Seiji Ozawa’s 80th Birthday
***
Carole King – Her life was so amazing that they turned it into a hit Broadway musical, Beautiful, which will be going on national tour shortly. She is a songwriter, early on primarily with her then-husband, the late Gerry Goffin; they are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I found this list of 17 Popular Songs You Never Knew Were Written By Carole King, with links, but mostly, I DID know.

If you went to college in the US in the early 1970s, either you had a copy of her massively successful album Tapestry, or your roommate did; it may have been mandated by Congress. I remember buying my copy somewhere in Binghamton, NY, along with Sticky Fingers by the Rolling Stones. Tapestry was number one on the Billboard 200 for 15 consecutive weeks, and on the charts for over five years in a row.

Her Jazzman was covered by Lisa Simpson in an early episode of the TV cartoon The Simpsons. Where You Lead was the theme song of the TV show Gilmore Girls, sung by one Louise Goffin, daughter of Carole and Gerry.

LISTEN to Carole King:
Jazzman
It’s Too Late
So Far Away
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, with the Mitchell-Taylor Boy-and-Girl Choir

The Everly Brothers -Crying In the Rain (1962)
KCH2015

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