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Ollie Johnston Gets the Medal of Arts

Legendary Disney animator Ollie Johnston the last of the fabled Nine Old Men will be the first animator to receive the prestigious National Medal of Arts in an Oval Office ceremony at the White House on Thursday. President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush will present Johnston, who turned 93 on Halloween, and nine other recipients, with their medals.

Each year the National Endowment for the Arts selects the National Medal of Arts recipients; it is the nations highest honor for artistic excellence.

These individuals and organization have all made significant and enduring contributions to the artistic life of our nation, said National Endowment for the Arts chairman Dana Gioia. Whether through pioneering film animation, writing memorable novels, championing jazz, or creating new dance styles, their work has transformed the ways we experience and appreciate the world.

The other 2005 National Medal of Arts Recipients include:

* Louis Auchincloss, author, New York, New York* James DePreist, symphony orchestra conductor, Portland, Oregon* Paquito DRivera, jazz musician, Bergen, New Jersey* Robert Duvall, actor, Plains, Virginia* Leonard Garment, arts patron and advocate, New York, New York* Wynton Marsalis, trumpeter, composer, artistic director, New York, New York* Dolly Parton, singer, songwriter, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee* Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, school of fine arts/museum, Phildelphia, Pennsylvania* Tina Ramirez, dance company artistic director, choreographer, New York, New York

The National Medal of Arts, established by Congress in 1984, is awarded by the President to those who have made extraordinary contributions to the creation, growth, and support of the arts in the U.S. Each year, the Endowment seeks nominations from individuals and organizations across the country. The National Council on the Arts, the Endowments Presidentially-appointed and Senate-confirmed advisory body, reviews the nominations and provides recommendations to the President, who selects the recipients.