Cicely Tyson, Robert Towne to Receive AFI Honorary Degrees
The American Film Institute (AFI) announced today it will confer Doctorate of Fine Arts degrees honoris causa upon two of American film's finest - screenwriter Robert Towne and actress Cicely Tyson. Both Towne and Tyson will be recognized for their "contributions of distinction to the art of the moving image." The honors will be presented during AFI Conservatory's commencement ceremony on June 11, 2014 at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre.
Towne and Tyson join an esteemed group of artists previously honored with the AFI Honorary Degree: Robert Altman, Maya Angelou, Saul Bass, Kathryn Bigelow, Mel Brooks, Anne V. Coates, Caleb Deschanel, Clint Eastwood, Roger Ebert, Nora Ephron, James Earl Jones, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Kathleen Kennedy, John Lasseter, Spike Lee, David Lynch, Helen Mirren, Thelma Schoonmaker, Haskell Wexler, Robert Wise, John Williams and many more.
Robert Towne is a four-time Academy Award® nominee best known for his Oscar®-winning script for CHINATOWN (1974) - a film recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the greatest movies of all time. The film's iconic final line - "Forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown." - also received AFI acknowledgement, ranking among the greatest film quotes in cinema history.
Towne's many screenwriting credits include THE LAST DETAIL (1973); SHAMPOO (1975); GREYSTOKE: THE LEGEND OF TARZAN, LORD OF THE APES (1984); DAYS OF THUNDER (1990); THE FIRM (1993); MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE (1996) and MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE II (2000). His uncredited work has made him one of the most sought-after script doctors in Hollywood - with contributions to films as varied as BONNIE AND CLYDE (1967), THE GODFATHER (1972), THE PARALLAX VIEW (1974), CRIMSON TIDE (1995) and ARMAGEDDON (1998). An accomplished director as well as an iconic writer, Towne has helmed four of his own scripts - PERSONAL BEST (1982), TEQUILA SUNRISE (1988), WITHOUT LIMITS (1998) and, most recently, the film noir ASK THE DUST (2006). He is currently working as a consulting producer on the final season of AMC's critically acclaimed series, MAD MEN.
Cicely Tyson is a celebrated American actress whose work in film, television and on the Broadway stage has spanned seven decades. She earned Best Actress nominations from both the Academy and the Golden Globes® for her performance as Rebecca Morgan in SOUNDER (1972) - a film recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the most inspiring films of all time. Tyson went on to win two Primetime Emmy® Awards for THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MISS JANE PITTMAN (1974), and another for OLDEST LIVING CONFEDERATE WIDOW TELLS ALL (1994). She has been nominated for the award six more times, for such unforgettable performances in ROOTS (1977), KING (1978), THE MARVA COLLINS STORY (1982), SWEET JUSTICE (1994-1995), A LESSON BEFORE DYING (1999) and RELATIVE STRANGER (2009). She has appeared in eight Broadway plays - most recently starring in "The Trip to Bountiful," for which she received the Tony® Award for Best Actress in 2013. In addition to her stage work, Tyson has remained active in film with memorable roles in THE HELP (2011) and FRIED GREEN TOMATOES (1991) - the latter of which was directed by Jon Avnet (AFI Class of 1972), an AFI Honorary Degree recipient last year.
Notably, Tyson is an alumna of the AFI Directing Workshop for Women (Class of 1977), where she directed the short SAVE ME A PLACE AT FOREST LAWN, which was produced by Jay Cassidy (AFI Class of 1976, and recently the editor of AMERICAN HUSTLE) and featured actor Dennis Christopher (DJANGO UNCHAINED). She also served on the AFI Board of Trustees from 1973 to 1978.