Presidential Medal of Freedom Honoree

President's Gold Medal Recipient

About Duke Ellington


Edward Kennedy Ellington was born in Washington, D.C., in 1899. His careerhit stride in New York during the late 1920s and early 1930s, though Ellington continued writing songs through the 1960s. While Ellington wrote music during a much different racial era in America, Sophisticated Ladies still expresses ideas of tolerance and diversity. Mr. Ellington won over a dozen Grammy Awards.

In December of 1936, Mr. Ellington received the keys to the city of Los Angelesand in 1966, he was presented with the President’s Gold Medal on behalf of Lyndon Johnson. In 1969, Richard Nixon presented Mr. Ellington with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Smithsonian Institution produced a traveling exhibition, BEYOND CATEGORY: THE MUSICAL GENIUS OF DUKE ELLINGTON, exploring the life and work of this innovative composer, bandleader and pianist..

Originally seen on Broadway in 1981 starring Gregory Hines, SOPHISTICATED LADIES won two Tony Awards® and was nominated for six others. Phyllis Hyman won the 1981 Theater World Award as best actress for her role in the show (details below).

SOPHISTICATED LADIES is presented by Artbeat, a not-for-profit company,and produced by Irving Street Rep. For more information, contact David Shaw: 425.444.5052 or email Artbeat

JPEG photos available and other pertinent information at: Press Resources and from the Duke Ellington web page at www.dukeellington.com/home.php.


1981 Tony Award® Best Musical Produced by Roger S. Berlind, Manheim Fox, Sondra Gilman, Burton L. Litwin, Louise estergaard; Produced in association with Belwin Mills Publishing Corporation, Norzar Production, Inc [nominee]

1981 Tony Award® Best Actor in a Musical Gregory Hines [nominee] 1981 Tony Award® Best Featured Actress in a Musical Phyllis Hyman [nominee]

1981 Tony Award® Best Lighting Design Jennifer Tipton [nominee]

1981 Tony Award® Best Choreography Henry LeTang [nominee] Donald McKayle [nominee] Michael Smuin [nominee]

1981 Tony Award® Best Direction of a Musical Michael Smuin [nominee]

1981 Tony Award® Best Featured Actor in a Musical Hinton Battle [winner]

1981 Tony Award® Best Costume Design Willa Kim [winner]

1981 Theater World Award Also Starring: Phyllis Hyman [winner]