Canadians Lorne Michaels, Frank Gehry to receive U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom

​Canadians Frank Gehry and Lorne Michaels are among the newest recipients of America’s highest civilian honour: the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

U.S. President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that Toronto-born Gehry and Michaels are on the star-studded list of 21 new honourees.


Retired basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, seen at right with U.S. President Barack Obama in 2015, is also being recognized. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Gehry is a world-renowned architect whose best-known buildings include the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the Dancing House in Prague, and the Guggenheim Museum building in Bilbao, Spain. He was also behind the redesign of the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.

Michaels is a 13-time Emmy winner best known for creating and producing the legendary sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live. He has also produced The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy FallonLate Night with Seth Meyers and the acclaimed sitcom 30 Rock.

Other recipients include retired NBA legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan, philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates, actor-filmmaker Robert Redford, two-time Oscar winners Robert DeNiro and Tom Hanks, rock legend Bruce Springsteen, talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and singers Diana Ross and Cicely Tyson.

Ellen Degeneres

Talk show host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres is among the latest recipients. (FilmMagic)

The awards will be presented at the White House on Nov. 22 and streamed live.

“The Presidential Medal of Freedom is not just our nation’s highest civilian honour — it’s a tribute to the idea that all of us, no matter where we come from, have the opportunity to change this country for the better,” Obama said in a statement.

“From scientists, philanthropists, and public servants to activists, athletes, and artists, these 21 individuals have helped push America forward, inspiring millions of people around the world along the way.” 


The Presidential Medal of Freedom will be the latest honours for actor Robert De Niro, second-left, and singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen, centre. The pair were earlier celebrated by U.S. President Barack Obama at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2009. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

The complete list of honourees:

  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  • Elouise Cobell (posthumous)
  • Ellen DeGeneres
  • Robert De Niro
  • Richard Garwin
  • Bill and Melinda Gates
  • Frank Gehry
  • Margaret H. Hamilton
  • Tom Hanks
  • Grace Hopper (posthumous)
  • Michael Jordan
  • Maya Lin
  • Lorne Michaels
  • Newt Minow
  • Eduardo Padrón
  • Robert Redford
  • Diana Ross
  • Vin Scully
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Cicely Tyson

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