2014 Kennedy Center Honor Recipients Range from a Ballerina to a Feminist Comedian

It's been said more than once that Tom Hanks is an American treasure, and soon that title will become all the more official. Tom Hanks is among the five 2014 Kennedy Center Honors recipients. Each year the gala celebrates individuals who have made major contributions to the performing arts in the U.S. Alongside Hanks will be Lily Tomlin, Al Green, Sting, and Patricia McBride. Kennedy Center chairman David M. Rubenstein explained, "The Kennedy Center celebrates five extraordinary individuals who have spent their lives elevating the cultural vibrancy of our nation and the world." Also attending and presenting at the ceremony in Washington, D.C. will be none other than the President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama.

This year's honorees are exceptionally varied in their achievements. From a gifted ballerina to a comedian who smashed the stereotypes of women in comedy since the day she stepped on stage, the class of 2014 are quite the accomplished group. Let's take a look at these remarkable artists and look forward to the airing of the ceremony on Dec. 30. Enjoy!

Tom Hanks

Actor, director, producer, all around good guy, and secret pageant mom, Tom Hanks is a most-deserving honoree. He’s won two Academy Awards for his work on the big screen and changed the history of cinema with his roles in Forrest Gump, Philadelphia, Cast Away, and Big. He can break your heart and make you laugh harder than almost anyone else in Hollywood. The man is a living legend… and a really, really nice guy.

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Lily Tomlin

Before there was Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, there was Lily Tomlin. An absolute trailblazer for women in comedy, Lily Tomlin has been making people laugh since the early 1960s when she started doing stand-up. Throughout her career she has starred in such films as 9 to 5 and I Heart Huckabees. She’s also an outspoken feminist and champion for women’s rights.

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Not only has Sting been a major music icon since his days with The Police, he’s also one of the industry’s biggest philanthropists. He and his wife Trudie Styler co-founded The Rainforest Foundation and he played a major part in the mega-charity concerts Live Aid and Live 8. His legacy goes far beyond his music.

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Al Green

Also known as Reverend Al Green, he’s the living king of soul music. He’s been named time and time again as one of the greatest musicians of all time and has left a deep imprint on the American music landscape. One listen to his timeless classic "Let’s Stay Together," and you’ll know why he’s being honored.

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Patricia McBride

McBride is one of the finest ballerinas in all of American dance. She spent 28 years dancing as a principal for the New York City Ballet — the longest-held title in the company’s history. Throughout her long and accomplished career, she has performed for the likes of five American presidents, had many roles written and created for her including “La Valse” by Balanchine, and had incredible partners like Mikhail Baryshnikov.

New York City Ballet