Shirley MacLaine Picks Up Top Film Award

Shirley MacLaine has been honoured with a lifetime achievement award by the American Film Institute for her illustrious Hollywood career.

The actress, 78, was presented with the accolade in Los Angeles in front of other stars including Julia Roberts, Jack Nicholson, Jack Black, Sally Field and Meryl Streep.

Her younger brother, Warren Beatty, who won the award in 2008, said: "Tonight we're here to honour a person I have known, a person I have loved my whole life."

MacLaine is the 40th recipient of the annual award which honours those "whose talent has in a fundamental way advanced the film art".

Chairman of AFI's board of trustees Howard Stringer said: "Shirley MacLaine is a powerhouse of personality that has illuminated screens large and small across six decades.

"From ingenue to screen legend, Shirley has entertained a global audience through song, dance, laughter and tears, and her career as writer, director and producer is even further evidence of her passion for the art form and her seemingly boundless talents."

During her career, she received a best-actress Oscar in 1983 for her role in Terms of Endearment and was nominated a further four times for Academy Awards.

She made her debut screen appearance in Alfred Hitchcock's The Trouble With Harry and continues to act to this day.

MacLaine is due to make a guest appearance in hit British drama Downton Abbey as the mother of the Countess of Grantham, played by Elizabeth McGovern.

Jack Black, MacLaine's co-star in her current comedy drama Bernie, presented a humorous clip of himself congratulating the actress through prehistoric history to US colonial times in recognition of her strong belief in reincarnation.

He said: "This is not the first lifetime-achievement award she's won over the ages."

Jack Nicholson, MacLaine's fellow Academy Award winner from Terms of Endearment, also joked that MacLaine loves her audiences and "is the only person outside of the clergy promising them eternal life".

Streep, who starred with MacLaine in Postcards From the Edge in 1990, presented the award and added: "Some performers are just indelible. We fall early and we fall hard for them, and we follow them for the rest of our lives. That's our Shirl. That's you, babe."

On accepting the award, she praised Streep, saying she had been one of the women in her life who was the "other half of the sky, my sustaining belief that women who speak the truth will make the world a better place".

MacLaine even added her own jibe about the prospect of future lives: "For all of the over-achievers in this room, we should relax and enjoy it. Because if we don't do it now, we'll do it next time."