By Bob Mazza
Legendary actress/comedienne/activist Lily Tomlin received the prestigious Art Gilmore Career Achievement Award at the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters annual Pioneer Luncheon held Feb. 17 at the Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City.
“I am thrilled and humbled to receive this wonderful honor,” Tomlin said.
Actress/singer/producer Katharine “Kat” Kramer brought the house down with a special musical tribute to Tomlin, her friend and mentor. Considered to be a Tomlin protégé, Kat is the daughter of legendary filmmaker Stanley Kramer and godchild of screen icon Katharine Hepburn.
To honor Tomlin’s career, Kramer and parody writer Shelly Goldstein created a series of clever songs incorporating personal anecdotes to reminisce about Lily. They combined the Judy Garland classic “Dear Mr. Gable: You Made Me Love You” and the Jule Styne/Stephen Sondheim anthem from Gypsy with “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.” Kramer’s spirited rendition of “Dear Lily Tomlin” segued into “Everything’s Coming Up Lily.”
Kat’s performance also spotlighted two signature Tomlin characters: Ernestine, the ornery telephone operator, and precocious five-year-old Edith Ann — both of whom debuted on the classic George Schlatter-produced TV series Laugh-In, the show that launched Tomlin’s career in 1969.
Giving kudos to Kat, Schlatter said, “She was funny, charming, and wonderful. I was delighted to have been there to enjoy this special moment.”
Kramer’s songs received a standing ovation, led by Tomlin herself, from the capacity audience of 500 guests.
Along with Schlatter, the celebrity dais included Laugh-In cast members Jo-Anne Worley and Gary Owens. Leslie Jordan, Sally Kellerman, Bruce Vilanch, and Allee Willis also participated. PPB President Sam Lovullo, who served as MC, said it was the group’s largest crowd in recent history.