WASHINGTON — President Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Tuesday to an eclectic mix of Americans from the sciences, arts, sports, politics and human
rights, some of them household names and others who he indicated should be.
Among those honored were such iconic figures as Willie Mays, Barbra Streisand, Itzhak Perlman, James Taylor, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Stephen Sondheim and Steven Spielberg.
There was also the widow of a general who helped other survivors, and a space scientist who was a pioneer in diversity as well as the cosmos.
When a telephone rang during his description of Mr. Spielberg’s many movies, the president joked: “Somebody is calling to see if they can book him for a deal right now. They want to make a pitch.”
And then he made one of his own: “So there’s this really good-looking president,” he started.