Actress Jane Fonda Sunday evening received the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Cecil B. DeMille Award, which honors an individual for their lasing impact on the film industry, while legendary producer Norman Lear was presented the Carol Burnett Award honoring achievement in television.
Fonda, 83, and Lear, 98, both received the honors during the Golden Globe Awards ceremony.
Fonda has won seven Golden Globes in her career, beginning with a “most promising newcomer” award in 1962 for “Tall Story.” Her other awards were for films including “Klute,” “Julia” and “Coming Home.” Fonda won back-to-back Oscars for her roles in “Julia” and “Coming Home.”
Her other notable roles include “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They,” “The China Syndrome,” “On Golden Pond,” “The Morning After,” “Cat Ballou,” 9 to 5” and “Barefoot in the Park.” She currently appears in the Netflix series “Grace and Frankie” with her “9 to 5” co-star Lily Tomlin.
Fonda is also well known for her political activism, most notably her protests of the Vietnam War, but also on behalf of civil rights causes. She currently holds weekly “Fire Drill Friday” events aimed at raising awareness of the dangers of global warming.
“The Hollywood Foreign Press Association takes great pride in bestowing the 2021 Cecil B. DeMille Award to Jane Fonda,” HFPA President Ali Sar said in a statement. “For more than five decades, Jane’s breadth of work has been anchored in her unrelenting activism, using her platform to address some of the most important social issues of our time.
“Her undeniable talent has gained her the highest level of recognition, and while her professional life has taken many turns, her unwavering commitment to evoking change has remained. We are honored to celebrate her achievements at the 2021 Golden Globe Awards.”
In accepting the honor, Fonda echoed the night’s theme of diversity, saying Hollywood’s story tellers play an important role in society.
“You see, stories have a way to, they can change our hearts and our minds, they can help us see each other in a new light, to have empathy, to recognize that for all our diversity, we are humans first,” she said. “I’ve seen a lot of diversity in my long life and at times I’ve been challenged to understand some of the people I’ve met, but inevitably if my heart is open and I look beneath the surface, I feel kinship.”
She called on Hollywood to improve in terms of “who’s offered a seat at the table and who is kept out of the rooms where decisions are made.”
“So let’s all of us make an effort to expand that tent so that everyone rises and everyone’s story has a chance to be seen and heard,” she said. “Doing that simply means acknowledging what’s true, being in step with the emerging diversity that’s happening because of all of those who marched and fought in the past and those who’ve picked up the baton Sunday. After all, art has always been not just in step with history, but has led the way. So let’s be leaders.”
Past recipients of the Cecil B. DeMille Award include Jeff Bridges, Robert De Niro, Audrey Hepburn, Harrison Ford, Jodie Foster, Sophia Loren, Sidney Poitier, Steven Spielberg, Denzel Washington and Robin Williams. Tom Hanks was given the honor last year.
Lear, the man behind groundbreaking shows such as “All in the Family,” “The Jeffersons” and “Sanford and Son,” will be the third recipient of the Carol Burnett Award, which was created by the HFPA as the television version of the Cecil B. DeMille Award. Burnett was the first recipient, followed by Ellen DeGeneres last year.
The Carol Burnett Award honors a person “who has made outstanding contributions to the television medium on or off the screen.”
“Norman Lear is among the most prolific creators of this generation,” Sar said. “His career has spanned the Golden Age and the streaming era. His progressive approach addressing controversial topics through humor prompted a cultural shift that allowed social and political issues to be reflected in television. His work revolutionized the industry and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is honored to name him as the 2021 Carol Burnett Award recipient.”
An Air Force veteran, Lear began his television career in the early 1950s, writing for the “Colgate Comedy Hour” and “The Martin and Lewis Show.”
He became a force in American television production with a string of successful sitcoms that pushed societal barriers and tackled pressing political topics, beginning with the timeless comedy “All in the Family,” and followed by hits including “Sanford and Son,” “Maude,” “Good Times,” “The Jeffersons” and “One Day at a Time.”
Lear is a six-time Emmy winner — his last two coming in the past two years in partnership with Jimmy Kimmel for live revivals of “All in the Family,” “Good Times” and “The Jeffersons.”
In accepting the honor, Lear thanked his collaborators over the years and his family, saying, “At close to 99, I can tell you that I’ve never lived alone, I’ve never laughed alone, and that has as much to do with my being here Sunday as anything else I know.”
But he repeatedly hailed the award’s namesake, Burnett.
“I am convinced that laughter adds time to one’s life, and nobody has made me laugh harder, nobody I owe more time to thank Carol Burnett,” he said.
He later added, “Thank you and bless you, Carol Burnett for everything you have meant to me by way of joy, surprise, delight and laughter.
“As I think about you and laughter and the joy of our parallel careers, so glad we had this time together,” he said, mimicking Burnett’s trademark show-ending tug of her left ear.
Lear is currently working on an animated reboot of “Good Times” for Netflix and recently produced a documentary on actress Rita Moreno, who starred in a recent reboot of “One Day at a Time.”