It's often a motley crew that the trustees at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts select as their annual Center Honors recipients.
The newly announced list sends the mind reeling at the dinner party possibilities: Chuck Berry, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Placido Domingo, Angela Lansbury and Clint Eastwood.
The five have been chosen as recipients of the 23rd annual Center Honors for the "unique and extremely valuable contributions they have made to the cultural life of our nation," Kennedy Center Chairman James A. Johnson said in a prepared statement.
The seminal rock 'n' roller, the dancer, the opera singer/conductor, the actress and the director/actor will be honored in two days of ceremony at the end of December.
The national honor, says Kennedy Center spokeswoman Tiki Davies, has "often been referred to as close to a knighthood as the United States has to offer."
The five honorees will spend the first weekend of December running from one glittery event to another: lunch at the Kennedy Center, dinner at the State Department, performance at the Kennedy Center's Opera House, dinner dance at the White House. President and Mrs. Clinton are scheduled to welcome the honorees, the folks who nominated them and the center trustees at the White House.
Seats for the Opera House performance on Sunday evening are available by invitation only, but the show will be broadcast by CBS-TV later in December.
The content of the show is kept a secret to surprise the honorees, for whom the performance is orchestrated.
For example, actor Sean Connery last year was treated to a performance of Scottish music by the Washington Pipe Band.
Recording artist Stevie Wonder heard his music performed by an a cappella group and jazz pianist/composer Herbie Hancock.
Connery and Wonder were 1999 honorees along with comedian/pianist Victor Borge, actor Jason Robards Jr. and dancer/choreographer Judith Jamison.
Honorees get front row seats for the show, a fund-raising event for the Kennedy Center. One wonders who handled the seating arrangements in 1997 when the guest-of-honor list included folk legend Bob Dylan, actor Charlton Heston and actor Lauren Bacall, or how the cocktail chatter went in 1996 when the group included playwright Edward "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Albee and singer Johnny "Folsom Prison Blues" Cash.
Here are some career highlights for this year's honorees:
Berry, 73, is a founding father of rock `n' roll whose hits include "Roll Over Beethoven," "Reelin' and Rockin'" and "Johnny B. Goode."
Baryshnikov, 52, made his debut with the Kirov Ballet in 1967, defected from the Soviet Union in 1974 and went on to dance with the American Ballet Theatre, the New York City Ballet, in movies and television specials and on Broadway.
Domingo, 59, a native of Madrid, is famously versatile as a romantic tenor and actor, having sung 115 different roles. His credits include Tosca at the Hamburg State Opera, Don Carlo at the Vienna State Opera, the Paris Opera and Salzburg Festival.
Lansbury, 74, who became best known as Jessica Fletcher in the television series "Murder, She Wrote," had by the time the show debuted in 1984 already enjoyed success in movies and theater. She been nominated for Academy Awards for "The Manchurian Candidate" and "The Picture of Dorian Gray."
Eastwood, 70, has continued acting in movies after making his directing debut in 1971 with "Play Misty For Me."
In 1992, he won Oscars for best director and best picture for "The Unforgiven."