Kaye, Willson to Get ‘Medal of Freedom’

Associated Press

President Reagan will award posthumous Medals of Freedom to actor Danny Kaye and composer Meredith Willson, the White House announced Tuesday.

Others chosen for the nation’s highest civilian honor are conductor Mstislav Rostropovich, Frederick Patterson, founder of the United Negro College Fund, and Nathan Perlmutter, executive director of the Anti-Defamation League.

The awards will be presented June 23 at the White House, the announcement said.

Kaye, who appeared in films such as “White Christmas” and “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” was honored for his “contributions in the fields of arts and entertainment and other significant public endeavors,” the announcement said. The actor also had been a permanent, official ambassador-at-large for the United Nations Children’s Fund.


Willson, who wrote the score for the hit show “The Music Man” and was also the composer for “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” was chosen for his “contributions in the fields of entertainment music,” the announcement said.

California industrialist Justin W. Dart Sr. also was chosen for a posthumous medal. Others to be honored are Anne Armstrong, a former ambassador to Great Britain; Gen. Lyman Lemnitzer, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; former CIA Director John A. McCone and William B. Walsh, founder of project HOPE.