Comedian Billy Crystal, center, waves as he is applauded by...

Comedian Billy Crystal, center, waves as he is applauded by fellow honorees Dionne Warwick, left, and Queen Latifah at the 46th annual Kennedy Center Honors at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., on Sunday. Credit: AP / Manuel Balce Ceneta

The newest group of Kennedy Center honorees, including Long Beach-raised comedian Billy Crystal and actor Queen Latifah, were feted Sunday night at a star-studded event commemorating their lifetime achievement in arts and entertainment.

Opera singer Renée Fleming, music star Barry Gibb and prolific hitmaker Dionne Warwick were also honored at the black-tie gala. Each received personalized tributes including appearances and performances that are typically kept secret from the honorees themselves.

President Joe Biden welcomed the honorees to the White House before the event, saying the performing arts “reflect who we are as Americans and as human beings.”

Biden and first lady Jill Biden then headed to the Kennedy Center to attend the festivities.

Crystal, 75, came to national prominence in the 1970s playing Jodie Dallas, one of the first openly gay characters on American network television, on the sitcom “Soap.” He went on to a brief but memorable one-year stint on “Saturday Night Live” before starring in a string of movies, including hits such as “When Harry Met Sally... ,” “The Princess Bride” and “City Slickers.”

On the red carpet before the show, movie director Rob Reiner — who cast Crystal in multiple iconic roles — poked fun at the honoree. “I hope this doesn’t give him a big head, because honestly his head’s already big,” Reiner said.

Reiner later narrated a large portion of Crystal's tribute, speaking from a stage made up as a replica of the diner from the famous scene in “When Harry Met Sally... .” Further testimonials came from his “When Harry” co-star Meg Ryan, Whoopi Goldberg, Bob Costas and 2009 Kennedy Center honoree Robert De Niro. Lin-Manuel Miranda, a 2018 honoree, performed an original song in Crystal's honor.

From left, Evan Ryan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, 2023...

From left, Evan Ryan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, 2023 Kennedy Center Honorees Renée Fleming, Queen Latifah, Billy Crystal, Barry Gibb, Dionne Warwick, Kennedy Center Chairman David Rubenstein, and Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter pose for a photo at the State Department following the Kennedy Center Honors gala dinner, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023, in Washington. Credit: AP/Kevin Wolf

Crystal, who also received the Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Prize for lifetime achievement in comedy in 2007, joins an elite group of comedians cited for both: David Letterman, Steve Martin, Lorne Michaels, Lily Tomlin, Carol Burnett and Neil Simon. Bill Cosby received both honors, but they were rescinded in 2018 following his sexual assault conviction, which later was overturned.

The 2023 Kennedy Center Honors ceremony will be broadcast Dec. 27 on CBS.

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