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AFI to honor Morgan Freeman with Life Achievement Award

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Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman was named Monday as the 39th recipient of the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award, AFI’s highest honor for a career in film.

Freeman, 73, is only the second African American performer to receive the honor. Sidney Poitier received the AFI award in 1992.

‘Morgan Freeman is an American treasure,’ said Howard Stringer, chairman of the AFI Board of Trustees. ‘Across decades, whether playing a prisoner, a president or God, he embodies a calm authority that demands respect for the character and for the art form. His gifts to the cultural record are also underscored by his unmistakable voice that echoes through the hearts and minds of movie lovers around the world.’

Freeman will receive his award at a gala tribute on June 9; the ceremony will be broadcast on TV Land Prime later that month.

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Previous recipients include John Ford, James Cagney, James Stewart, Alfred Hitchcock, Kirk Douglas, Michael Douglas, Mike Nichols, Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese, Barbara Stanwyck, Elizabeth Taylor, Warren Beatty, Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep and George Lucas.

Freeman began his career more than 40 years ago off-Broadway before joining the cast of the PBS children’s show ‘The Electric Company.’ He won the supporting actor Academy Award for Clint Eastwood’s 2004 boxing drama, ‘Million Dollar Baby.’

He received his first supporting actor Oscar nomination for playing a vicious pimp in 1987’s ‘Street Smart.’ He also earned lead actor nominations for 1989’s ‘Driving Miss Daisy,’ 1994’s ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ and Clint Eastwood’s 2009’s ‘Invictus,’ in which he portrayed South African President Nelson Mandela.

His latest movie, the action-thriller ‘Red,’ opens Friday.

— Susan King


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