Next Sunday, as the Best Actress nominees are announced, it is expected Meryl Streep will graciously smile, yet again, as her name is announced.
For her flamboyant portrayal of colorful chef Julia Child in the film Julie and Julia, she has earned her 16th Oscar nomination. In 2003 she surpassed record-holder Katharine Hepburn – who received 12 nominations – and Streep now extends her reign as the most nominated performer in Academy history with her 16th nod.
Meryl Streep on the Dryden Theatre stage in October 1999, to receive the George Eastman Award. (Photo by Ken A. Huth)
On her crowded mantel of awards, however, is the George Eastman Award, which she was given in October 1999 in front of hundreds at the Dryden Theatre. That cheering crowd included her parents, who traveled to Rochester for the event.
When a staff member noted to her mother, “You must be very proud of Meryl,” her mom smiled and said, “We are proud of all of our children.” It was clear from whom Meryl inherited her graciousness, poise, and “realness.”
Meryl Streep, with her mother at her side, talks with then-Kodak CEO George Fisher, at a dinner in her honor before the award ceremony. (Photo by Ken A. Huth)
The George Eastman Award has been given by the Museum since 1955, for distinguished contribution to the art of film. A long list of past George Eastman Award honorees include Fred Astaire, Charlie Chaplin, Cecil B. DeMille, Lillian Gish, Frank Capra, Joan Crawford, Jimmy Stewart, Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck (who was given his award by surprise guest Audrey Hepburn), and Martin Scorsese.
While at Eastman House, Meryl Streep was kind and fun and humble – the same persona that comes through when she takes part in interviews and shares sheer delight during acceptance speeches.
The Eastman House screened a video tribute, featuring highlights from her film career, prior to the award ceremony. Taking the stage immediately following, the then 50-year-old Streep told the audience, laughingly, “Gee, it was so nice to watch myself age before your eyes on a big screen.”
During the visit she toured the motion picture vaults and witnessed some of the film-preservation work conducted on site.
Meryl Streep talks with the media during a a press conference at Eastman House. (Photo by Ken A. Huth)
“We are at risk of losing our cultural history and also our documentary history,” Streep said, during a press conference the next day at the Museum. “Eastman House is in a pre-eminent position to be in the vanguard. I don’t think other museums have caught up to the idea that that’s what’s coming. There must be this care given, to preserving film of all kinds.”
After viewing 1945 film footage of the liberation movement of Auschwitz preserved in the Eastman House archive, Streep noted, “This was an amazing document. But we live in a little window of time where that document is verifiable. Next century, somebody might say, ‘Well, they put that together. That’s not true. They can do anything to that film.’
“And so the people who can really verify and give credibility to visual work will be these ‘DNA experts’ of the future,” Streep continued. “And they’re all working and being trained here at Eastman House.”
Dresden Engle is the Public Relations Manager for George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film.
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