Morgan Freeman accepted the American Film Institute's 39th Life Achievement Award on a Sony Studios sound stage in Culver City on Thursday night, basking in 3 1/2 hours of film clips and tributes from Clint Eastwood, Tim Robbins, Forest Whitaker, Garth Brooks, Betty White and more.
"I'm proud to be an actor, although for this one night, you've made me feel like a star," Freeman said.
The AFI celebration included clips of Freeman's legendary films and early performances interspersed with recorded segments of Freeman and other actors and filmmakers reflecting on his career. And yes, his singing and dancing on public TV's '70s kids show "The Electric Company" was included.
Freeman blew Robbins a kiss when "The Shawshank Redemption" star said, "It was an honor being locked up with you, Morgan."
Also on hand at the star-studded event, to name a few (and only a few): Helen Mirren, Samuel L. Jackson, Matthew McConaughey, Cuba Gooding Jr., Cary Elwes, Djimon Honsou, Kimora Lee Simmons and film critic Leonard Maltin. Click the pics to see more photos from the AFI red carpet.
"This is easy to take but hard to believe. Where I come from in Mississippi, they call this walking in high cotton," he said. "For me, heaven has always been about acting in the movies."
Last year's winner was Mike Nichols. The AFI ceremony will air as a special on TV Land on June 19.
-- Christie D'Zurilla
Top photo: Clint Eastwood, left, Sidney Poitier and Morgan Freeman at the AFI Life Achievement Award tribute to Freeman in Culver City on June 9, 2011. Credit: Christopher Polk/Getty Images.
Right photo: Betty White at the event honoring Morgan Freeman. Credit: Christopher Polk/Getty Images.