Kennedy Center Honors: Dustin Hoffman, David Letterman, Led Zeppelin Get the Nod

The nation's most prestigious award for the performing arts will be handed out Dec. 2

By Josh Grossberg
|  Wednesday, Sep 12, 2012  |  Updated 2:01 PM EDT
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Dustin Hoffman, left, and David Letterman, right, are both being honored by the Kennedy Center.

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Their time is gonna come, all right.

The surviving members of Led Zeppelin will join Dustin Hoffman, David Letterman, blues legend Buddy Guy and ballerina Natalia Makarova as recipients of the 35th Annual Kennedy Center Honors, it was announced today.

President Barack Obama will hand out the nation's most prestigious award for the performing arts at a Dec. 2 ceremony at the White House prior to a gala tribute performance at the Kennedy Center Opera House.

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This year's class is being feted for their unparalleled contributions to American culture.

At 75, Hoffman is now entering the sixth decade of a prolific Hollywood career that's included such big-screen classics as "The Graduate," "Midnight Cowboy," "Little Big Man," "All the President's Men" and "Tootsie." He's won two Oscars — for performances in "Kramer vs. Kramer" and "Rain Man" — and been nominated seven times in all. Among his other notable trophies: five Golden Globes, an Emmy and the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award.

Letterman, 65, is being saluted for 30 years in late night television--the first 11 as the host of NBC's Late Night With David Letterman before moving over to CBS's Ed Sullivan Theater to launch the Late Show With David Letterman which is still going strong. He has notched a whopping 52 Emmy nominations, winning seven times.

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Before calling it quits, Led Zeppelin changed the course of rock 'n' roll with its hard-edged blues-metal sound. While they'll also be honored as a band, singer Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page and bassist John Paul Jones will each receive separate honors. (Drummer John Bonham died in 1980.)

A fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, the 76-year-old Guy pioneered the genre known as Chicago Blues after moving to the Windy City from Louisiana in the late '50s. His lasting influence extends not only to Zeppelin, but to rock artists including Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce. He is a six-time Grammy winner.

Finally, 71-year-old Makarova is an internationally known ballerina who defected from the Soviet Union in 1970 and joined the American Ballet Theatre in New York, dancing with such luminaries as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Rudolph Nureyev and Alexander Godunov.

The Kennedy Center Honors will air Dec. 26 on CBS.

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