Celebrated actor, producer and director Jack Lemmon '47 will receive the first Harvard Arts Medal when he is honored as part of its third annual Arts First celebration, University officials have announced.
President Neil L. Rudenstine will present Lemmon with the award at a ceremony on April 29. The medal is "meant to go to an alumnus or alumna who has made a significant contribution to the arts," said Myra May-man, director of the Harvard University Office for the Arts.
Lemmon has won Academy Awards for Best Actor ("Save the Tiger") and for Best Supporting Actor ("Mr. Roberts"). His most recent films include "Grumpy Old Men" (1993) and "Glengarry Glen Ross" (1992).
Lemmon was vice-president of the Harvard Dramatic Club in 1946, president of the Hasty Pudding Club in 1947 and a resident of Eliot House.
His visit to Harvard will be just one part of the four-day Arts First celebration, which begins on Thursday, April 27, with the Harvard-Redcliffe Dramatic Club's (HRDC's) production of Anthony Clarvoe's The Living at the Loeb Mainstage.
Clarvoe's play is a big step for the Dramatic Club, said Terrell P. McSweeny '97, assistant director, because it is the first HRDC production headed by a professional director, John Dillon.
Students working with Dillon, the first participant in HRDC's Visiting Director Project, said they welcome the chance to work with a professional.
"It's a lot more demanding and in many ways it's really great to have someone who truly does know a lot about theater in charge of [the play], because you really have someone to fall back on who says "This is right; this is good," McSweeny said.
One of the other features of the Arts First celebration will be a dance festival produced by Ilanna Bavli '96. Bavli first organized the dance event for last year's celebration.
"I think it's important to highlight dance on its own because it never really gets much attention in the University as a whole," Bavli said. "Dance groups normally don't get that big of an audience individually, but last year we had a really big turnout-it was really successful."
Other Arts First events will include a parade, children's performance and a joint musical performance by the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra, the Harvard Glee Club, the Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum, the Radcliffe Choral Society and the Harvard Band.
On April 30, at 3 p.m., the Arts First celebration concludes with the University Choir's performance of Purcell's Ode to St. Cecilia at Memorial Church, commemorating the 400th anniversary of Purcell's death.
Mayman said she expects the celebration to encourage student creativity. "It's very inclusive, and it should be an opportunity for undergrads to express themselves as they see fit," she said.