President Joe Biden wagged his finger in warning at Robert De Niro when the actor mocked his age during the taping of the annual Kennedy Center Honors.
De Niro, 80, was paying tribute to honoree Billy Crystal when he told the comedian: ‘You’re only 75 – that means you’re just about six years away from being the perfect age to be elected president.’
The audience burst into applause. Biden, 81, who was seated a few chairs down from Crystal in the presidential box, shook his finger at De Niro. Earlier, at a White House reception for the honorees, Biden joked that Crystal ‘promised me he’s not going to primary me – because he would win.’
The president, however, got in a laugh later on in the gala event. Actress Rita Moreno, 91, came out after De Niro and said: ‘old age is so f***ing boring,’ causing Biden to burst into laughter.
President Joe Biden – next to Jill Biden in the president’s box – pointed a finger at actor Robert DeNiro when the actor mocked his age during the Kennedy Center Honors
Moreno, known for her Academy-Award winning performance in the 1962 motion picture ‘West Side Story,’ was very vocal about the issue of Biden’s age when asked about it on the red carpet before the taping began.
‘I’m older than he is. I could be president to come to think of it,’ she said. ‘I think that because it’s like an elderly person, they don’t think this is working,’ she added, tapping her head.
Republicans, including Donald Trump who is only three years younger than Biden, have made his age an issue in the 2024 election. Polls also show voters are concerned about Biden’s age. He is the oldest president ever elected.
Moreno expressed her concern about it as voters prepare to decide the country’s next president.
‘There’s a misperception and the other side is taking advantage that scares me, because the other side is pretty ruthless,’ she said. ‘I hope that isn’t what’s on the minds of good Americans.’
She had been at the White House reception for Kennedy Center Honors earlier Sunday and said she talked to President Biden and first lady Jill Biden.
‘He looks fabulous. He’s happy as a clam. I don’t know how he does it,’ she said.
The 46th annual Kennedy Center Honors taped on Sunday night and will air on CBS on December 27th. The honorees get a weekend of festivities, including a dinner at the State Department on Saturday night where they give acceptance remarks and a Sunday afternoon reception at the White House, hosted by the Bidens.
Gloria Estefan returned as host, starting the evening by leading a congo line of dancers through the Kennedy Center’s Opera House, while belting out her 1985 hit ‘Conga.’
‘Your art has value but that has contributed to the fabric of our society,’ she told the honorees.
In addition to actor and comedian Billy Crystal; the Kennedy Center celebrated soprano Renée Fleming; British singer-songwriter producer, and member of the Bee Gees, Barry Gibb; rapper, singer, and actress Queen Latifah; and singer Dionne Warwick.
Robert De Niro at a White House reception for Kennedy Center Honorees; he would later mock Joe Biden’s age
Honoree Billy Crystal waves to the crowd
Naomi Biden (center), Joe and Jill Biden’s granddaughter, attended the Kennedy Center Honors and sat in the presidential box between Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff (left) and Secretary of State Antony Blinken (right)
Much of Sunday night’s tribute to Crystal noted his love of baseball, his nine times as Oscar host, and his famous romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally.
Meg Ryan made a surprise appearance on stage to honor her co-star in the 1989 hit movie. She started by talking about the now-infamous scene where her character fakes an orgasm during a lunch with Crystal’s character during a lunch at Katz’s Delicatessen.
‘The scene came really natural to me and I really have Billy to thank for that. I’ve never been around anyone who made faking an organism easier,’ she said as the audience burst into laughter.
And director Rob Reiner revealed it was actually Crystal who wrote the film’s famous line, cited by one of the actor’s in the deli scene: ‘Billy wrote what I believe is making the funniest line in all of movie history. I’ll have what she’s having. Said by my mother.’
Warwick was honored for her Grammy-award winning singing career with a variety of musical performances, including Chloey Bailey, who sang Walk on By; Cynthia Erivo, who belted out Warwick’s classic Alfie; and Gladys Knight, who sang Say a Little Prayer.
This year’s ceremony also honors the 50th anniversary of hip hop. As part of it, actress Kerry Washington led the tributes to Queen Latifah.
She noted of the actress and singer’s stage name: ‘She flipped through a book of names and chose one as her own. Latifah is an Arabic name meaning gentle, kind and pleasant. This is how she saw herself. And then, at age 17, when it was time to create her professional moniker, she added the title queen and in doing so this young black woman from East Orange New Jersey crafted the lens through which the world would forever see her.’
Soprano Renee Fleming was by a variety of singers, including Dove Cameron and Tituss Burgess.
And actress Christine Baranski brought the laughs when she talked about when she and Fleming had in common.
She noted that ‘I first met Renee at the benefit for Juilliard, our alma mater. We quickly bonded talking about the challenges of raising two daughters, managing busy careers, the importance of women’s education. Then I attended her opening up La Traviata and she came to my premiere of Mamma Mia.’
‘Seems that I love Verdi and she loves Alba,’ she noted.
Sigourney Weaver paid tribute to Fleming’s humanitarian work, including in the areas of world health and arts education.
Dionne Warwick waves to the crowd at the Kennedy Center Honors
Renee Fleming at the Kennedy Center Honors
Queen Latifah was honored as part of the 50th anniversary of hip hop
British singer and song writer Barry Gibbs
Jill Biden offers a hug to Queen Latifah
Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi attended the Kennedy Center Honors with her son-in-law
The final honoree of the evening was British singer and song writer Barry Gibbs.
It included a video tribute from singers who performed songs written by Gibbs, including: Dolly Parton, Lionel Richie, Paul McCarthy, and Barbara Steisand.
Singer Michael Buble described Gibbs as a man ‘with a sensitive side but someone with real emotional intelligence. by tapping into a deeper part of himself, and sharing it with the world. He brings us back to our very own humanity, that I mentioned that the songs are there also as sexy as hell.’
He then sang How Can You Mend a Broken Heart.
Past recipients of Kennedy Center Honors include George Clooney, U2, Tina Turner, Cher and the cast of Hamilton.
In this year’s class, Crystal is known for such films as When Harry Met Sally…, City Slickers, and Analyze This.
He’s also a ninetime host of the Academy Awards and has won six Emmy Awards. Crystal, alongside Robin Williams and Whoopi Goldberg, served as co-host of Comic Relief’s televised fundraising events on HBO. Through specials broadcast between 1986 and 2008, Comic Relief raised $75 million to help supply medical aid to the homeless.
He was the 2007 recipient of the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
Fleming has five Grammy awards and the U.S. National Medal of Arts. The opera has sung in everything from the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony to Barack Obama’s first presidential inauguration to the Diamond Jubilee Concert for Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.
In 2014, she became the first classical artist ever to sing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl.
She also is a Goodwill Ambassador for Arts and Health for the World Health Organization.
The Guinness World Records and Billboard list Gibb alongside only Paul McCartney as one of the two most successful popular songwriters of all time.
As a member of the Bee Gees with his brothers Robin and Maurice, the trio sold over 220 million records, while writing 21 different songs to top the U.S. or U.K. charts including ‘Staying Alive’ and ‘Saturday Night Fever.’
Born on the Isle of Man in the U.K. in 1946, Gibb is a nine-time Grammy Award winner and an inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall Of Fame.
Kennedy Center Honorees (L-R, front row): soprano Renee Fleming, actor and comedian Billy Crystal, and singer Dionne Warwick and (L-R, back) rapper, singer, and actress Queen Latifah, and British singer-songwriter producer, and member of the Bee Gees, Barry Gibb
President Biden and first lady Jill Biden got all dressed up for the White House reception for Kennedy Center Honorees
The presidential box at the Kennedy Center Honors: from left: Queen Latifah, Jill Biden, President Joe Biden, Doug Emhoff, Naomi Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken
Lin-Manuel Miranda talks with White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre at the Kennedy Center Honors
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and his wife Iris Weinshall attended the Kennedy Center Honors – Schumer said it was his first time at the event and he was there to see fellow New Yorker Billy Crystal
Actress Christine Baranski led the tribute to opera singer Renee Fleming
Kerry Washington led the tributes to Queen Latifah
Michael Buble sang How Can You Mend a Broken Heart in honor of Barry Gibbs
Dave Chappelle attends the 46th Kennedy Center Honors
Queen Latifah has six Grammy Awards for her music career.
Her film credits include Jungle Fever, Chicago, and Bringing Down the House. Her television credits include Living Single and Star.
Warwick has more than 60 charted hit songs under her belt and sold over 100 million records. Her humanitarian work includes AIDS awareness.
She comes from a musical family. One of her cousins was the late Whitney Houston.
Her musical hits include ‘Don’t Make Me Over,’ ‘Walk On By’ and ‘I Say a Little Prayer.’
Warwick performed in the all-star charity single, ‘We Are the World.’ She also made recording history with Gladys Knight, Elton John, and Stevie Wonder with ‘That’s What Friends 7 Are For,’ a number one hit from 1985 and the first recording dedicated to raising awareness for AIDS.
CBS will broadcast the 46th Annual Kennedy Center Honors on December 27 at 9:00p.m. ET/PT.