Streep, whose body of work includes "The Deer Hunter," "Postcards From the Edge" and "The Iron Lady," sat wearing the coveted awards' striped regalia with husband Don Gummer beside President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.
At Washington, D.C.'s Kennedy Center opera house, former costars Stanley Tucci, Kevin Kline and Emily Blunt praised the actress for her "superhuman" gifts, versatility and, quite sweetly, her friendship.
Anne Hathaway, who played Streep's terrified magazine assistant in "The Devil Wears Prada," stole the show with a musical number that showcased her singing talent and even some gymnastics — Hathaway busted out a split at one point (see it below).
Robert De Niro introduced Streep, mentioning that she'd had been nominated for an Oscar 16 times and joking, "You know what that means? She's sat through the Academy Awards 16 times."
We have a feeling she didn't mind sitting through this honor, which also saw salutes to singers Neil Diamond and Barbara Cook, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and saxophonist and composer Sonny Rollins. The awards were presented Dec. 4.
— Matt Donnelly
Photo: Meryl Streep gazes at the Kennedy Center opera house stage during her tribute. Credit: John Paul Filo / CBS.