Bill Murray Bill Murray 19th Annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor celebrating Bill Murray Airs Friday, Oct. 28 at 9/8c on PBS Presenting sponsor Capital One

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On Sunday, October 23, 2016, an outstanding lineup of entertainers gathered in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall to salute Bill Murray, recipient of the 19th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. The Prize, which is named to honor one of the world's greatest humorists, was given at a gala performance featuring Aziz Ansari, Roy Blount, Jr., Jane Curtin, Miley Cyrus, Bill Hader, Jimmy Kimmel, David Letterman, Steve Martin, Brian Doyle Murray, Ivan Reitman, Paul Shaffer, Emma Stone and Sigourney Weaver and was taped to be broadcast nationwide Friday, October 28 at 9/8c on PBS.

In addition to honoring this country's greatest comedians, the Mark Twain Prize also serves as a major fundraising event—all contributions help support the Center's year-round educational and artistic initiatives that reach millions of students, educators, and families throughout the nation. Sponsorship packages ranging from $500 to $50,000 feature an array of benefits, including an invitation to attend an exclusive Artist Rehearsal Dinner with the Mark Twain Prize winner and other esteemed guests at the $25,000 level and above. Packages begin at $1,200 and include the festive pre-show dinner in a pavilion on the North Plaza, the tribute performance and formal presentation of the Mark Twain Prize in the Concert Hall, and an exclusive post-show reception.

About Bill Murray

Actor and comedian Bill Murray was born William J. Murray on September 21, 1950, in Wilmette, Illinois. In an attempt to find direction in his life, he joined his older brother, Brian Doyle-Murray, in the cast of Chicago's Second City improvisational comedy troupe. Murray eventually relocated to New York City, where he took his comedic talents to radio's National Lampoon Hour (1973-74) alongside Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, and John Belushi. In 1975, he was in an off-Broadway spin-off of the comedy radio show when Howard Cosell recruited him for a show called Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell (1975-1976). A year later, producer Lorne Michaels tapped Murray to replace Chevy Chase on a much bigger sensation, NBC's Saturday Night Live (SNL).

Ironically insincere and yet somehow soft-hearted, Murray is the best-known star to emerge from the cast of Saturday Night Live. On SNL from 1977-1980, he created the cheesy lounge crooner, Nick, and other lovably smarmy characters. It didn't take long for him to move from the small screen to the big screen, and his first major film role was in the 1979 box office hit Meatballs. He then starred in two of the top-grossing comedies of the 1980s: playing a woolly-headed groundskeeper in Caddyshack (1980) and a slick-talking investigator in Ghostbusters (1984, with fellow SNL alumnus Dan Aykroyd). Murray's comedy hits in the 1990s included Groundhog Day (1993) and the Amish bowling story Kingpin (1996). He also took more serious roles, playing a mobster in Mad Dog and Glory (1993, with Robert DeNiro) and an eccentric businessman in Wes Anderson's Rushmore (1998), for which he won Best Supporting Actor from both the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics. He was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his seriocomic role as a jet-lagged movie star in Tokyo in Sofia Coppola's film Lost in Translation (2003).

More recently, Murray earned rave reviews for his portrayal of Franklin D. Roosevelt in Hyde Park on Hudson (2012) and he also reunited with Anderson for a role in Moonrise Kingdom that same year. Murray was also in Anderson's next film, The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), with Jude Law and Ralph Fiennes, as well as The Monuments Men (2014). He was nominated for a lead actor Golden Globe for his role in the comedy St. Vincent (2014), co-starring Melissa McCarthy and Naomi Watts. That same year he starred as Jack Kennison in the acclaimed HBO miniseries Olive Kitteridge, for which he earned his second Emmy Award. In 2015, Murray was seen in the comedy Rock the Kasbah portraying a music manager who starts to handle the career of an Afghani teen. He recently voiced the character of Baloo in the Disney animated film, The Jungle Book (2016), and will have a cameo role in Danny McBride's new HBO comedy, Vice Principals.  

Murray is an avid golfer and a particular fan favorite at the annual AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Bill’s Best Characters

Bill Murray in Caddyshack

From over-the-top Nick the lounge singer on Saturday Night Live to a subtly brilliant Bob Harris Lost in Translation, Bill Murray created unique characters across the comedic spectrum. Laugh through our list and share your favorites.

See the top 10 list

About the Mark Twain Prize

Portrait of Mark Twain

The Mark Twain Prize recognizes people who have had an impact on American society in ways similar to the distinguished 19th century novelist and essayist best known as Mark Twain. As a social commentator, satirist and creator of memorable characters, Samuel Clemens was a fearless observer of society, who startled and outraged many while delighting and informing many more with his uncompromising perspective of social injustice and personal folly. He revealed the great truth of humor when he said "against the assault of laughter nothing can stand."

The Inaugural Mark Twain Prize was presented to Richard Pryor during the first annual Kennedy Center Celebration of American Humor, October 20, 1998. The event is created by the Kennedy Center, and executive producers Mark Krantz, Bob Kaminsky, Peter Kaminsky, and Cappy McGarr and is televised annually. Previous recipients of the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize include Richard Pryor (1998), Jonathan Winters (1999), Carl Reiner (2000), Whoopi Goldberg (2001), Bob Newhart (2002), Lily Tomlin (2003), Lorne Michaels (2004), Steve Martin (2005), Neil Simon (2006), Billy Crystal (2007), George Carlin (2008), Bill Cosby (2009), Tina Fey (2010), Will Ferrell (2011), Ellen DeGeneres (2012), Carol Burnett (2013) Jay Leno (2014) and Eddie Murphy (2015).

Past Recipients of the Mark Twain Prize

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