President Obama to Award Elaine May with National Medal of Arts

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The White House recently announced the batch of artists they’ll be awarding with the 2012 National Medal of Arts awards this week, and a rare comedy person made it into the mix this time around. Beloved writer/director/actress Elaine May will be receiving the award when Barack Obama presents it to her alongside the awards other recipients, including George Lucas and Herb Alpert, tomorrow.

Two-time Oscar nominee May has had an impressive career in comedy on both sides of the camera and on stage. As a member of Second City predecessors The Compass Players, she began working with Mike Nichols. Nichols soon became her creative partner and the two became one of the most successful comedy duos of all time. After Nichols and May discontinued their act, May became a prominent writer and director, working on movies like A New Leaf, The Heartbreak Kid, Primary Colors, The Birdcage, and tons more. This is the first time the National Medal of Arts has gone to a comedy person since Ron Howard (if he counts since he also does drama) in 2003. If he doesn’t count, then it’s the first time it’s gone to a comedy person since it went to Mike Nichols in 2001, so this a pretty big deal.