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Kennedy Center Awards Given to American Entertainers

The American singer Tony Bennett was living The Good Life - which is also the title of one of his signature songs - when he received this country's top award for a lifetime of excellence in the performing arts.

Five entertainers were awarded with the annual Kennedy Center Honors late Sunday. President Bush, Vice President Cheney and their wives were at the ceremony here in Washington, along with an audience filled with glittering stars of stage, screen and television.

Actors Robert Redford and Julie Harris, singer Tina Turner and ballet dancer Suzanne Farrell joined the 79-year-old Bennett on the honors list. The president saluted the five stars for setting "a standard of excellence that is admired throughout the world."

"All of them," Mr. Bush added, "have earned a unique place in the cultural life of the United States."

Musicians, actors and dancers performed selections from the honorees' work - including "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," a song that became Bennett's trademark more than 40 years ago.

The annual honors bestowed by the Kennedy Center (the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performance Arts) are seen as the equivalent of knighthood in Britain, or membership in France's Legion of Honor.