Shirley MacLaine Picked for AFI's Top Award

By Sam Schulz
|  Thursday, Oct 13, 2011  |  Updated 11:35 AM EDT
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Think Shirley MacLaine looked this delighted when she heard she was getting the AFI's top career honor?

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Hollywood's favorite New Age redhead is getting one of Hollywood's favorite career recognitions.

Oscar-winning actress Shirley MacLaine, now 77, is being given a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute, the industry group said Sunday.

The honor only confirms what anybody who's been watching movies in the last half-century — including the nation of France, which awarded her the Legion of Honor this year — has known all along.

"Shirley MacLaine is a powerhouse of personality," that is, as the AFI's board of trustees chair Howard Stringer put it.

MacLaine cemented her reputation as a heavyweight Hollywood star with serious comic abilities in Billy Wilder's 1960 sex comedy "The Apartment" opposite Jack Lemmon. The pair reteamed three years later for "Irma la Douce."

Her career saw another spate of highlights beginning 15 years later with ballet drama "The Turning Point." She won an Oscar for her role as an eccentric but steely single mom in 1983's "Terms of Endearment"; she played a very different eccentric but steely single mom in the show-biz comedy "Postcards from the Edge" with Meryl Streep.

In recent years, MacLaine has penned a number of books and spoken widely on her belief in new age spirituality and what she calls her UFO experiences. She was nominated for a slew of awards for her portrayal of Coco Chanel in the 2008 Lifetime movie about the iconic designer.

MacLaine currently has another movie, "Bernie," set for release soon.

The AFI will present MacLaine with her award next year on June 7 at a special fete.

The AFI's choice of MacLaine marks the second time it's honored a single family with more than one award. It gave MacLaine's brother Warren Beatty the nod back in 2008.

Selected Reading: E! Online, Los Angeles Times, Reuters

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