Mayor John F. Street announced today that the critically
acclaimed Award-winning actor and human rights activist Hollywood Star Richard Gere on Monday became the 2007 recipient of the Marian Anderson Award, which honors artists whose leadership benefits humanity.
Richard Gere, 58, was chosen because of his philanthropy and advocacy on behalf of independence for Tibet and better care for HIV/AIDS patients, accepted the award and its accompanying $100,000 honorarium at a Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts gala.
"I'm not worthy of this award in any way whatsoever," Gere said. "I can't tell you how this makes me feel. My heart is so wide open."
The award presenters lauded Gere for taking on the dual role of artist and activist before it became fashionable among the Hollywood set, lending his fame and finances to significant global issues.
Gere told the audience that Anderson paved the way for artists to follow her and urged others to adopt her traits.
"I think that is what we are here for, to make the road easier for those who follow us," said Gere, who was joined by his parents and wife, actress Carrie Lowell, along with his co-star in three films, actress Diane Lane.
The night's program included performances by The Philadelphia Orchestra and Philly native Patti LaBelle.
Gere, a longtime Buddhist, first visited Nepal in 1978, a year after his breakthrough film role in Looking for Mr. Goodbar. An ardent supporter for a Tibet free of Chinese rule ever since, he is co-founder of the Tibet House and board chairman of the International Campaign for Tibet.
He also has sponsored the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, on two U.S. trips, with a third planned.
As an AIDS awareness advocate for 25 years, he established Healing the Divide, a public charity for improving medical care for HIV/AIDS patients, and a philanthropic foundation bearing his name provides assistance to humanitarian organizations.
Richard Gere emerged very quickly as a lead actor of unique power in a film career
which now spans more than 30 years and includes over 40 films. At the beginning of his career
he established himself as a screen presence in Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977), following that
with his performance in the cinematic masterpiece Days of Heaven (1978). These movies
preceded additional iconic roles in films that grew to include American Gigolo (1980), An Officer
and A Gentleman (1982), Pretty Woman (1990), and Unfaithful and Chicago (2002). His latest
film, Hoax (2007), has drawn broad critical acclaim.
Richard Gere got in trouble in April when he embraced and kissed Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty on her cheek at a public AIDS awareness event in New Delhi, prompting Hindu hard-liners to allege the pair violated India's strict anti-obscenity laws. He apologized but said the controversy was manufactured by a small hard-line political party.
The annual award is named after legendary contralto and Philadelphia native Marian Anderson.
By the mid-1930s, Anderson was an international opera sensation but faced segregation in her own country. Public furor erupted when she was not permitted to perform at Washington's Constitution Hall in 1939, and 75,000 people attended a free concert held instead on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
Weeks later she became the first black performer in the White House, at the invitation of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Anderson became the first black soloist at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1955, sang at the inaugurations of presidents Kennedy and Eisenhower and received the Medal of Freedom in 1963. She won the United Nations Peace Prize for her work as a U.N. delegate.
Anderson died in 1993 at the age of 96.
Previous recipients of the Marian Anderson Award include Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, Gregory Peck, Elizabeth Taylor, Quincy Jones, Danny Glover, Oprah Winfrey, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee.
So Congratulation Mr.Richard Gere for Achivement.
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