Not having a husband really paid off for her when she worked for director, screenwriter and producer James L. Brooks. He cast her as the exasperating but loving widowed mother in Terms of Endearment. MacLaine seemed born to play Aurora Greenway.
From Broadway musicals to starring roles in films, three of which won the Oscar for Best Picture (Around the World in 80 Days, Billy Wilder's The Apartment and Terms of Endearment), to writing best-selling books with independent views on Hollywood fame, feminism, politics, spirituality and even UFOs to now having a hit TV series to her credit, Shirley MacLaine has earned that Kennedy Center salute. The artists are chosen for "...elevating the cultural vibrancy of our nation." She has definitely done that.